Modafinil is a drug that keeps you awake. It has legitimate medical uses and is used for performance enhancement by the military for pilots and soldiers in combat situations. Modafinil enhances short-term memory and lets users stay awake for extended periods.

This website is a non-profit non-biased information source for the medication modafinil. We provide information on this pharmacological cognitive enhancer.

Modafinil - Wake-Promoting Agent

Modafinil is the first (an so far only) in a new class of wake-promoting medicines. Originally approved for the treatment of excessive daytime sleepiness associated with narcolepsy, today modafinil is the only FDA-approved prescription medicine for treatment of hypersomnias and excessive sleepiness associated with OSAHS and SWSD. It is also used by healthy people looking for a cognitive boost. It is estimated that 500,000 American use this drug. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine considers modafinil the standard treatment for sleepiness in nacrolepsy.

It was first marketed in the U.S. under the name Provigil® by Cephalon, Inc., a drug company headquartered in Pennsylvania. (In 2011, the Israeli company Teva bought Cephalon). Other names for the drug include Nuvigil®, Modavigil®, Vigicer® and Alertec®.

molecular structure of provigil

Chemical Abstracts Name: Acetamide, 2-[(diphenylmethyl)sulfinyl]- (9CI)

Other names: modafinil, modiodal


Modafinil is structurally different from other central nervous system stimulants. Its mechanism is unknown but is different from traditional dopaminergic and catecholaminergic-enhancing stimulant drugs.

Modafinil does not have as many withdrawal problems as other stimulants have, and although there can be withdrawal effects they are not severe in most people. The drug is typically not experienced (subjectively) as strong as other stimulants such as Ritalin and Adderall.

The United States FDA has classified modafinil a Schedule IV drug (low abuse potential). It is a prescription drug.

Who should use it? Modafinil is only approved for use by adults and children over the age of 16. It should only be taken by those suffering from sleep disorders.

Is just being sleepy a sleep disorder? No, but it is really up to your doctor to determine when you have a disorder, given all your symptoms, history, and other medical data. There has been a proposal to classify "subwakefulness syndrome" as an official sleep disorder. This means people aren't as awake as they want to be. But subwakefullness syndrome has not yet gained acceptance by the wide medical community. This is also called "subvigilance syndrome."

Is it safe to use? Modafinil was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1998. It has side effects and is not tolerated by everyone, but is generally considered safe by the medical community. A meta-study (review and summary of other studies) by researchers at the University of Oxford and Harvard Medical School in 2015 found risks were small. The study also found modafinil improved several measrueable areas of cognitiion, including planning and decision-making.

What are the ingredients in Provigil? The active ingredient is modafinil. Inactive ingredients include: lactose, microcrystalline, cellulose, pregelatinized starch, croscarmellose sodium, povidone and magnesium stearate.

Are there any side effects associated with taking Modafinil?

Yes. The most common ones are headache, upper respiratory tract infection, nausea, nervousness, anxiety and insomnia. In clinical trials, these side effects each occurred in more than 5% of patients.

What dosages are available?

Different formularies and makers may make different pills, but when originally introducted Provigil was available in 100 milligram and 200 milligram dosages.

Do you need a prescription for modafinil?

Yes. Modafinil is a controlled substance and can only be obtained with a doctor’s prescription.

Is this all so much hype?

There certainly has been a lot of stories in the popular press in recent years about modafinil and other "smart drugs" - press that might lead readers to think these drugs are more widely used than they are. The Public Library of Science had an article called: Smart Drugs “As Common As Coffee”: Media Hype about Neuroenhancement


Wakefullness-promoting agent

Provigil acts on areas in the brain having to do with the sleep/wake mechanism. It increases alertness in sleepy individuals, but probably not to normal alertness levels. Provigil is rapidly absorbed the body and it’s at its most effective within two hours of ingestion.

Millions experience excessive daytime sleepiness associated with narcolepsy, obstructive sleep apnea/hypopnea syndrome (OSAHS),and shift work sleep disorder (SWSD). Provigil might help them feel more awake at the times when they need to be awake and may improve their concentration. It can be used as an adjunct with CPAP treatment for people with apnea, and enhance the quality of their waking life.

Sleep Deficit?

Sleepiness significantly increases the potential for compromised attention, impaired cognition, lengthened reaction time, and negative mood. The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) believes that sleepiness should be recognized as a serious signal that is understood as a risk factor and precursor to accident, injury, destruction and death. Two-thirds of all Americans don’t get enough sleep, according to the NSF. For those with critical attention responsibilities, including truck drivers and people who work night shifts on a permanent or rotating basis, sleepiness can make them more prone to accidents. In contrast, optimal alertness is a fundamental requirement for successful and safe functioning in our society. If we can reduce society-wide sleepiness we might be able to reduce accidents and injuries.

Astronauts use Provigil. Specifics are not public, but a paper published by the Canadian Medical Association Journal says modafinil "is available to crew" to improve crew performance on the International Space Station.

A Different Kind of Stimulant

Unlike caffeine and older prescription stimulants that affect the entire central nervous system which in turn leads to jitteriness, insomnia and prolonged bouts of sleep to make up for lost sleep, Provigil only seems to effect the part of the brain that keeps you awake. A person’s sleep patterns will usually revert back to normal after the effects of Provigil wear off. Clinical trials have also demonstrated that Provigil is less likely to cause nervousness or withdrawal-like symptoms.

Go to Provigil Information.


(Pages in Spanish)