Modafinil is a prescription drug that is used for treating narcolepsy, obstructive sleep apnea, and shift work sleep disorder. It has been mistakenly nicknamed the “Brain Drug” because of its ability to keep you awake without the jittery side effects of caffeine or taurine that is contained in most energy drinks.
Since Modafinil is a prescription medication you can only get this with a doctor’s assistance, and it should be taken only under a doctor’s supervision to monitor for any serious side effects that are associated with taking this drug.
Modafinil is the generic name for the synthetic waking stimulus drug Provigil and is primarily used for the treatment of sleep conditions that include, sleep apnea, narcolepsy, sleep deprivation, and shift work sleep disorder. These disorders are not only inconvenient but for the more extreme cases can be deadly.
According to Corpina, recent studies have shown that modafinil is also an effective drug when treating some non-sleep related conditions such as ADHD and Clinical Depression.
Since Modafinil is a prescription drug, this is not a supplement that you can simply purchase over the counter at your local pharmacy. Because of its stimulant classification, it is government regulated, and you must have a doctor’s prescription to access this medication.
Although some people may refer to this drug as a “Brain Drug” there are no studies that show modafinil has any impact on cognitive brain functions like focus, concentration, or creativity. It is believed that any signs of these types of improvements are stimulated by the body’s ability to stay awake making the brain more alert in the process.
These same stimulant effects can be achieved by drinking caffeinated drinks like coffee or energy drinks with fewer side effects than seen with the synthetic stimulant.
Other brand names for modafinil are Alertec, Modavigil, Provigil
Although I have never been prescribed this medication, my research indicates that it is highly effective at treating the symptoms associated with severe sleep disorders, but not a cure for these conditions.
Research indicates that the list of side effects are minimal in comparison to the conditions that modafinil treats, making it a reasonable drug solution for these severe life altering conditions. However, the number of contraindications associated with this medication and the ability to become dependent on this drug is reason for concern when reviewing your treatment options.
New studies showing that this drug has the potential to treat other brain associated conditions like ADHD and Clinical Depression lead me to believe that this drug could be used in the treatment of other types of disease and conditions in the future.
Since there are a variety of natural alternatives to this synthetic medication, I do believe there are better options for less severe cases of sleep deprivation or simply trying to stay awake and alert that have fewer side effects and are more gentle on the system. But, for more extreme cases I do believe that a pharmaceutical drug is a viable option.
When it comes to how this drug affects mental acuity I have provided a video of an actual research study comparing modafinil to amphetamine to see the comparison in action below.
Of the more than 70 reviews that I found on WebMD regarding this drug, the majority stated that they felt temporary improvement that lasted in the range of ten hours, which helped the individuals maintain a more normal lifestyle.
There was a difference in the side effects seen, with some patients having more severe side effects while others had none. This backed-up the scientific data that indicates there are contraindications and side effects in some individuals that are directly associated with this medication. You can see some of the reviews here.
The benefits of taking the medication modafinil are readily seen in patients who are consistent with taking their medication as they improve the patient’s quality of life by making it possible to hold onto a regular job, maintain a social circle, and have a better home life.
- Improved Job Situation – It is difficult to hold onto a job or regular income when you are unable to remain awake for more than a few moments at a time. Taking this medication keeps you awake and able to function normally enabling you to have a functional work life.
- Socializing – All aspects of life are important to having a fulfilling life, including having a social group. To maintain a social circle you must participate, and when you are continuously too tired to function participation is not an option. Taking modafinil allows you to be more engaged in other aspects of life that you may have been missing out on, and be more social as a result.
- Home Life – Creating a family and fulfilling home life takes work and when you are chronically tired or depressed it may seem to be too much effort. Modafinil helps relieve depression so that you can connect with those you love in a more regular and healthy manner.
The main benefit of modafinil is that it helps you get back to a point physically where you can maintain your life in all aspects, which in turn improves your overall mental and physical health as you begin to feel normal again or even for the first time.
According to the Bioneer, modafinil targets neurons in the hypothalamus of the brain that generally react to orecin, hypocretin, and dopamine. Its ability to increase these levels of neuron stimulators thereby increases these brain chemicals that are linked to cheerfulness, alertness, and increased energy levels.
Scientific research has linked the body’s production of dopamine that has been stimulated through exercise, exhilaration, and herbs to increased happiness, a more fulfilling life, and better concentration. Modafinil simply takes this research a step further stimulating this needed brain chemical in those who may not be able to produce these chemicals naturally on their own.
Modafinil needs to build up in the body over time before the extent of its effects can be felt. Patients will usually notice some improvement within a few doses and the improvements should become more substantial as the medication builds up in the body over time.
This medication does need to be taken on a regular daily basis in order to continue being effective as the short-term effects generally wear off after approximately ten hours.
According to Drug.com, the time to take modafinil is in the morning before you start your day to stave off daytime sleepiness or an hour before starting work to be able to complete your shift in an awake and alert fashion.
This medication can be taken with or without food and is usually started with a 12 week or less prescription that will be reviewed on a regular basis before moving forward.
Due to its many medication interactions, this medication should not be shared. It can be stored at room temperature in a dry location and should be kept out of the reach of children.
Dosages for adults are the same no matter which condition you are being treated for at 200 mg in the morning. This drug is considered to be the last option for children as it has been shown to produce adverse psychiatric and dermatologic effects.
Some individuals do experience severe allergic reactions to modafinil with symptoms that include, skin rash, blistering, peeling, mouth sores, fever, shortness of breath, leg swelling, and jaundice. If any of these symptoms are present, you should call your doctor immediately.
Since this medication does manipulate brain chemistry, there are also other side effects that require immediate discontinuation of the medication, such as, hallucinations, depression, anxiety, chest pains, trouble breathing, unusual thoughts and aggressive behavior, and suicidal thoughts.
Less severe side effects include headaches, back pain, dizziness, nausea, upset stomach, diarrhea, insomnia, stuffy nose. These side effects may require your dosage be modified, or that you be changed to a different medication.
Smart Nootropics recommends stacking modafinil with phenibut to help relieve the anxiety side effects that are sometimes present when taking higher doses of modafinil. It is recommended to start out with a lower dose of modafinil and work your way up as needed, and to use phenibut sparingly so that your body does not build up a tolerance to it making it less effective.
This stack is not recommended for daily use; twice per week should be sufficient to keep you both motivated and level headed. Taking this stack more frequently will decrease this stack’s effectiveness when working together.
Another reason to monitor how much phenibut you are taking is that it is also a brain chemical medication that is similar to gamma-aminobutyric acid that is found in the brain naturally and promotes sleep. According to WebMD, this medication is intended to treat anxiety and insomnia, which could counteract your modafinil dose.
The suggested dosage for this stack is 50 to 100 mg of modafinil paired with 250 to 500 mg of phenibut.
- Caffeine – Caffeine is not recommended as a cure for narcolepsy, however for treating fatigue it can be quite effective. This alternative does come with side effects such as jitteriness, anxiety, moodiness, tremors, bad breath, and insomnia if taken too frequently and in too high of a dose. Because of its effect on the heart as a stimulant, you should see your doctor if for a racing heart or any shortness of breath issues.
- Gotu Kola – This herbal stimulant affects the central nervous system and has been known to combat drowsiness, reduce mental fuzziness, and energize the brain by inducing the body to produce choline that’s primary function is to improve brain function. In this aspect, Gotu Kola may be a better option than modafinil.
- Country Mallow – Also known as Sida Cordifolia, this herb contains ephedrine; which is a natural fatigue fighter. Live strong recommends consuming this herb as a strong tea that is made using five teaspoons of the herb for fighting narcolepsy without pharmaceuticals.However, before making any changes, you should check with your doctor before making any medication changes or adding anything new to your regimen to avoid potential drug interactions.
- Adrafinil – Just like modafinil Adrafinil is a synthetic drug. It was originally used in France to fight fatigue in the elderly but has since been discontinued because of its inferiority to modafinil.According to Smart Drugs for Thought, for individuals in the U.S., this alternative is available over the counter since it is still being reviewed by the FDA. There are no suggested dosages listed since this drug is still under FDA review.
There are also other forms of the synthetic medication as listed above, but the main difference between these synthetical versions is in manufacturing, and inactive ingredients since the main ingredient in all of the synthetic versions is modafinil.
The use of modafinil for chronic life-changing conditions such as narcolepsy, shift sleep disorder, and sleep apnea makes sense as long as it is under the supervision of a licensed physician.
However, its use as a brain stimulating drug to increase productivity, creativity, and cognitive functions are extremely exaggerated. These results are more in tune with the drugs ability to awaken the brain so that the patient may function more normally and effectively through staying awake and alert.
For anyone looking to use modafinil as a brain supercharger the contraindications and the adverse side effects would indicate that this is not your best option. Instead, turning to more organic homeopathic alternatives such ass country mallow or goto kola make a sounder decision in my book.