Last updated: August 2, 2017


Technically, modafinil is considered a “wakefulness agent” rather than a stimulant, but many in the nootropics community use it as a powerful tool for concentration and focus. It is considered one of the more famous and heavily consumed nootropics, which has spread into Silicon Valley entrepreneur circles, Wall Street traders, and a variety of other high performance individuals.

Developed initially as a treatment for narcolepsy [1], Modafinil has a positive effect on cognition and cognitive abilities while also improving concentration and focus [2]. Scientists hypothesize that modafinil is effective because it increases adrenaline and dopamine neurotransmission enough for these cognitive advantages, but not enough to create euphoria and addiction [3].

Due to conversations between famed biohacker Dave Asprey and author, Tim Ferriss, modafinil has grown in popularity as a smart drug. Beyond public consumption, it is also used by the military as an alternative to Adderall and wakefulness agent for sleep deprived soldiers.

Although some people are “non-responders” to modafinil, most people record feeling a sense of focus and cognitive enhancement that promotes a higher mental performance.

Also Known As

2-[(Diphenylmethyl) sulfinyl]acetamide, Provigil, Modalert, Modapro, Alertex

Editors’ Thoughts on Modafinil

While I have tried many nootropics, modafinil is one of the few that remains in my regimen. In fact, this is the only article where I can authentically say I am using modafinil as I write this.

In many countries around the world, modafinil is an over-the-counter drug (such as Colombia, where I’m visiting). My experience has always been extremely positive in a work sense. Primarily, I use the nootropic when I have had a full night of sleep, early in the morning (5:30 AM), and a day clear of appointments that would distract me.

Usually, I use modafinil only once per 5 – 7 days because doing so any more often than that can cause tolerance issues. Because I take it relatively infrequently and after a full night of sleep, the drug has a very positive effect on my working capabilities (rather than trying to use modafinil to cover up a lack of sleep).

The only drawback, which I haven’t experienced that often, is associated with my mood. I can’t tell whether I become more reserved and quiet on modafinil because I’m usually working alone in my house all day or if it is the drug itself. Either way, it has never really bothered me too much.

Finally, I experience a lack of appetite when using modafinil. Given I fast daily and do not necessarily enjoy taking time out of my day to prepare and eat food, this is often a “benefit” for me.

It’s not a “limitless pill”, but it is probably the closest thing I’ve found to having that experience. Take that for what it’s worth.

Mansal Denton, Nootropedia Editor


Benefits of Modafinil

The benefits of modafinil are manifold and have been researched extensively over the past decade. Partially, this is due to the military and government interest in modafinil as a tool for soldiers and pilots who engage in combat activity under sleep-deprived conditions.

According to multiple studies, there is a significant decrease in fatigue when using modafinil [4]. Users that experience sleep deprivation or have hyperinsomnia find that their mental performance is heightened after using modafinil (or the downsides are negated).

Another benefit of modafinil is with regard to general cognitive abilities. Modafinil can improve cognitive abilities, which are measured by reaction time [5], working memory [6], and other tests. While the benefits are less for non-sleep deprived individuals, it is obvious that healthy adults can still see cognitive benefits from using modafinil.

One of the favorite uses for modafinil is attention, alertness, and concentration. While all of these are similar in their mechanisms as “wakefulness”, they are slightly different from a scientific perspective. The quantity of research literature shows that modafinil has a positive impact on all of these factors.

Modafinil vs. Adderall

One of the popular uses of modafinil is as an Adderall alternative. When comparing modafinil vs. Adderall, subjective experiences are not the only data points. The military has utilized many scientific studies to see the difference between modafinil and amphetamines.

In one study, military personnel worked for 64 hours straight using either modafinil or amphetamine. Within the two nights without sleep, the modafinil was able to prevent a decline in mood and cognition in a similar way to the amphetamine [7]. However, modafinil is largely considered safer and more sustainable than Adderall or amphetamines.

In another study, modafinil was used to treat methamphetamine addicts with great effect. It was able to improve working memory and cognition in patients who were suffering from addiction even though it did not have a positive effect on reaction time [8]. Thus, it might be a useful Adderall withdrawal solution.

Finally, when considering that 11% of U.S. children are currently taking amphetamine-based prescription drugs [9], it is worthwhile to see how modafinil compares for children and ADD / ADHD. A study of children using modafinil for 6 weeks found a 48% improvement in ADHD symptoms (such as inattention, hyperactivity, and cognition) [10].

Modafinil in Popular Culture

Many nootropics have grown in popularity in recent years, but none as much as modafinil. Much of this growth is due to the experiences of Tim Ferriss and Dave Asprey who have both mentioned using the drug extensively.

According to Dave Asprey “used Modafinil (aka Provigil) when I got my Wharton MBA while working full time at a startup that sold for $600 million. I even hazard to mentioned it in my LinkedIn profile which made more than a few Silicon Valley exec friends open up to me that they had used it, at least on occasion.” [11]

Both Tim Ferriss, Joe Rogan, and a host of other popular characters in popular culture have mentioned modafinil as a useful tool.

dave asprey modafinil

Side Effects of Modafinil

Powerful nootropics and smart drugs often have side effects. The side effects of modafinil are often related to appetite. Many people experience a lower appetite when they take modafinil, which translates to weight loss in some. While this might be considered a positive benefit of modafinil to some, it is a side effect of the drug nonetheless.

Other modafinil side effects include headaches, dizziness, and irritability, which are rare and can depend on many factors. Sometimes they are a result of an increased heart rate and blood pressure, which is another side effect of modafinil. Rarely, people experience nausea, dry mouth, and abdominal pain.

Naturally, because modafinil is a wakefulness agent, taking the drug too late at night will negatively impact sleep. It can cause insomnia in some people.

Modafinil Dosage

There are so many studies on modafinil, the dosage varies greatly depending on the goal. Some studies with amphetamine comparisons use up to 400 mg of the drug, [12] while studies with children and ADHD use as little as 170 mg [13]. The standard doses (produced by drug companies) is between 100 – 200 mg.

Most starting recommended doses are 200 mg, but modafinil is a powerful drug and might warrant half that dose (100 mg) to test the waters.

How and Where to Buy Modafinil

Modafinil is popular, which means it is big business. Unfortunately, in the United States it is impossible to buy it over the counter. You need a prescription in order to purchase modafinil, but there are many online retail shops that purchase the drugs in countries where modafinil is over the couter (such as India and Colombia) and ship them to you.

One popular website is called Afinil Express, which has an entire process that walks you safely through the process. With Afinil Express you can order the smart drug to your home, get shipping notifications, and updates, and have the product delivered to your doorstep.

If you are going to buy modafinil online from another retailer, make sure you find modafinil reviews in one of the community portals (such as Reddit or Longecity). There are many modafinil suppliers that pop up every month, but modafinil reviews can help you to determine what is legitimate and what is not.

Beyond the legal risks, if you buy modafinil, there are reports of seizure by customs, though this is rare.

modafinil cat

Selected Community Experiences

First, the biggest effect I have experienced on modafinil is appetite suppressant. This, combined with modafinil’s tendency to increase my daytime alertness and motivation, has resulted in significant weight loss…As of today, which is about 2 months after beginning modafinil, I now weigh 203 lbs. My BMI went from 29.5 to 26.1 (still classified as overweight but much lower), and my body fat % went from about 20% to 15%. Both muscle bulk and tone have increased [14]- Brukhar1

So I’ve been taking Modafinil for the past 11-12 days straight. I’ve used varying doses of 100-200mg per day. I think that it is a wonderful supplement to use but it also has some significant downsides. It’s not a cure-all “use everyday” sort of thing, for me at least. [15]- stefpdt

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  • Ben Sotherbee

    I found this through bulletproof exec and have loved it ever since then. The only problem for me is that it wears off after some time if I use it too much. I think this is related to the tolerance issue that you mention in the article. Is there any way that I can avoid this by taking something else? Any suggestions are greatly appreciated

    • Mansal Denton

      Hi Ben,

      I don’t have any experience taking something else as strong as modafinil, but I do cycle one time per week. That has worked best for me. Otherwise, you might try something like caffeine if you aren’t already. Assuming you are, phenylpiracetam might be a good alternative.

      • ben jones

        Hi ,

        I have never tried but am tempted experiences anyone?

        • Mansal Denton

          It’s worth experiencing if you don’t have a medical condition that might cause you harm (re stimulants)

  • Thomas

    I am using Adrafinil since i could not get Modafinil.
    I swallow a 300mg pill in the morning. I have tried it with my Bulletproof coffee while doing Intermittent fasting and experienced intense nausea, it was very short though but overall i felt very sharp and more social especially at work.
    I also tried with a full breakfast and somehow felt the effects were diminished.
    I stacked it with Aniracetam and L-Theanine too but the anxiety relief i get from Aniracetam was canceled.
    I will try again with my BP while ine IF and hope i do not get the nausea again.

    • Mansal Denton

      Hi Thomas,

      Thanks for commenting on your stacks and trial and error. The adrafinil dosage you are using seems to be on the low end. Maybe if you increased the dosage and left out your BP coffee it might work better?

      I also find that eating when taking the modafinil / adrafinil drugs will diminish the effects. Let me know if you have any other questions.

    • scott

      see my comment you gotta try it!

  • scott

    I use // personally the super nootropic is super powerful. Ive taken both modafinil and adderall and this stuff is better.

  • scott
  • Gonzalo

    Modafinil vs Armodafinil. Which one is better?

    • Mansal Denton

      I prefer Modafinil. Armodafinil is a little too intense (even though it is more concentrated)

  • Gerardo Morillo

    I took recommend Adrafinil if Modafinil/Armodafinil is not a possible route. The prescriptions can be a little more difficult to get hands on and do d fall under the grey area of “illegal,” yet not illegal enough to go to jail for. Adrafinil is one of the best focus and wakefukness pill that is not Modafinil.

    I’ve tried Modafinil in the past and got massive headaches. To be honest it was a very effective pill, but at times was a little intense and the headache just made throw it out. I’d recommend Adrafinil for a very similar effect just less intense. It has greatly improved my overall performance and ability to stay by a great margin.

    • Mansal Denton

      Yeah, some people definitely have that issue with modafinil. Glad you paid attention to your experience and followed which worked best for you

  • Endi

    Fantastic article! I take a minimal dose of Adderall as needed on days when I have to make a sales pitch or presentation and need to stay focused and keep my ADHD in check; but I hate the mood swings that it puts me in so I try not to take it unless I have to (which is usually around 3 to 4 days a week max). I will discuss Modifinil with my doctor. Your article was very honest and insightful; and I appreciate the information, time and effort that you put into writing it.

    • Mansal Denton

      Hi Endi, thanks so much for your kind words. Glad it is helpful and I hope you find some useful information from your doctor.