Answers and Questions

Can Modafinil safely be used as an alternative to sleep?

No. Experts agree there is no medicinal "alternative" to sleep. While people employ this medicine to stay alert for long periods of time – even as much as a few days – without sleep, doctors warn that cutting back on sleep, even by one hour a night, can have long-term neurological and cardiovascular effects. Lack of sleep affects mental and physical performance, blood pressure, heart rate, insulin level and various hormone secretions. The drug increases high-frequency alpha waves while decreasing both delta and theta wave activity, and these effects are consistent with generalized increases in mental alertness.

How does Modafinil differ from other wake promoting drugs/stimulants that affect a person’s central nervous system?

Unlike caffeine and older prescription stimulants like Addreall 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 affect 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 than other stimulants do.

Taking Modafinil

pestle The National Institutes of Health Sleep Plan calls for more research in the area of drugs like modafinil. The plan calls for “studies of the relative efficacy, safety, and long-term effects of pyscho-stimulants (e.g. methylphenidate (Ritalin), d-amphetamine (dexedrine), modafinil (Provigil), and caffeine)…related to sleep/wake measures in animal models and humans, including appropriate patient populations.

What are the ingredients in Provigil?

The active ingredient is modafinil, which was discovered by French researchers in the late 1970's. Modafinil is a memory-improving and mood-brightening psychostimulant. It enhances wakefulness and concentration. The effects of Modafinil are similar to those of traditional stimulants such as methylphenidate (Ritalin, Concerta) and dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine), but it has a novel mechanism of action entirely different from these other stimulants that is not yet fully understood. After more than two decades of research, scientists are still trying to figure out just how it manipulates the brain.

Inactive ingredients include: lactose, microcrystalline, cellulose, pregelatinized starch, croscarmellose sodium, povidone and magnesium stearate

Is there a difference between Armodafinil and Modafinil?

Armodafinil contains only the “R” enantiomer of modafinil while modafinil is a racemic compound that contains both S and R enantiomers.

Is there anything I should discuss with my doctor before taking Modafinil?

Talk to your doctor about any medical conditions you may have, including if you:

  • Are pregnant, are planning to become pregnant, or are currently breast-feeding;
  • Are taking birth control pills;
  • Have high blood pressure or heart problems;
  • Have liver or kidney problems;
  • Have previously abused any stimulants or street drugs, such as cocaine;
  • Have or have had a mental problem called psychosis;
  • Are currently taking any medicines, including prescription and non-prescription drugs, vitamins, or herbal supplements; and,
  • Drink large amounts of alcohol

Modafinil is in pregnancy category C, as defined by the FDA. It should only be used in pregnant or nursing women if the benefits outweigh the risks. A 2020 analysis found the rate of congenital abnormalities in babies born to mothers who took modafinil was 13 percent vs 3 percent in the general population. Abnormalities included congenital torticollis and congenital heart abnormalities. A British government website says modafinil should not be used during pregnancy, and any woman on modafinil should use contraception until at least 2 months after stopping modafinil use.

Do you need a prescription for Modafinil?

Yes. Modafinil is a controlled substance and can only be obtained with a doctor’s prescription. See also our page on getting Modafinil from overseas pharmacies.


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