Modafinil, Side Effects and Benefits

What is Modafinil?

Modafinil is a medication used to treat sleep disorders like narcolepsy. It can also be used to help people with shift work sleep disorder and obstructive sleep apnea/hypopnea syndrome (OSAHS).

Modafinil is classified as a wakefulness-promoting agent, and it works by increasing the amount of dopamine in the brain.

Modafinil excessive daytime sleepiness. It is thought to work by altering the natural chemicals (neurotransmitters) in the brain.

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that plays a role in wakefulness, alertness, and attention.

Modafinil is approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of narcolepsy, shift work sleep disorder, and sleep apnea/hypopnea syndrome.

Off-label uses of modafinil include treatment of major depressive disorder, although efficacy for this use has not been established.

Modafinil is a racemic compound, and the enantiomers have different pharmacokinetics (e.g., elimination half-lives, binding to plasma proteins).

The FDA has not approved modafinil for use in children.

Side Effects

Modafinil is available as a generic medication. Common side effects include headaches, nausea, anxiety, nervousness, and insomnia. Serious side effects may include psychosis, allergic reactions, Stevens-Johnson syndrome, and cardiovascular problems.

Modafinil is a Schedule IV controlled substance in the United States, and it is classified as a prescription drug.

It is legal to possess modafinil without a prescription in the United Kingdom.

In Canada, it is a schedule F controlled drug.

What are the benefits of taking Modafinil?

There are many benefits of taking Modafinil, including:

  • It can help you stay awake and alert.
  • It can help you focus and concentrate.
  • It can help you remember things better.
  • It can help you with decision making.
  • It can help you with planning and organization.
  • It can help you with problem solving.
  • It can help you with mental flexibility.
  • It can help you control your emotions.
  • It can help you regulate your moods.
  • It can help you feel more energetic.

What special precautions should I follow?

Before taking Modafinil, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to it; or if you have any other allergies. This product may contain inactive ingredients, which can cause allergic reactions or other problems. Talk to your pharmacist for more details.

Before using this medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist your medical history, especially of: breathing problems (such as asthma, bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease-COPD), heart problems (such as congestive heart failure, irregular heartbeat), high blood pressure, liver disease, mental/mood disorders (such as depression, mania), personal or family history of a substance use disorder (such as overuse of or addiction to drugs/alcohol), seizure disorder, sleep apnea (breathing stops during sleep).

This drug may make you dizzy. Do not drive, use machinery, or do any activity that requires alertness until you are sure you can perform such activities safely. Avoid alcoholic beverages.modafinil side effects


To lower the chance of feeling dizzy or passing out, rise slowly if you have been sitting or lying down. Be careful going up and down stairs.

Before having surgery, tell your doctor or dentist about all the products you use (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs, and herbal products).

Older adults may be more sensitive to the side effects of this drug, especially dizziness, mental/mood changes (such as confusion, hallucinations), and slow/shallow breathing.

This medication is not recommended for use during pregnancy. It may harm an unborn baby. If you become pregnant or think you may be pregnant, tell your doctor right away.

It is unknown if this drug passes into breast milk. Consult your doctor before breast-feeding.

What other drugs will affect Modafinil?

Taking Modafinil with other drugs that make you sleepy or slow your breathing can cause dangerous side effects or death. Ask your doctor before taking a sleeping pill, narcotic pain medicine, prescription cough medicine, a muscle relaxer, or medicine for anxiety, depression, or seizures.

Other drugs may interact with Modafinil, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Tell each of your health care providers about all medicines you use now and any medicine you start or stop using.

What should I avoid while taking Modafinil?

Avoid driving or operating machinery until you know how this medicine will affect you. Dizziness or low blood pressure can cause falls or other accidents.

Modafinil is not approved for use by anyone younger than 18 years old.

Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.

It is not known whether Modafinil passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. You should not breast-feed while you are using this medicine.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. Skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next scheduled dose. Do not take extra medicine to make up the missed dose.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222. An overdose of Modafinil can be fatal.

What special dietary instructions should I follow?

Modafinil is usually taken before breakfast or 1 to 2 hours after breakfast. Follow your doctor’s instructions.

Avoid drinking alcohol while taking this medicine. It may increase certain side effects of Modafinil.

What should I know about storage and disposal of this medication?

Keep this medication in the container it came in, tightly closed, and out of reach of children. Store it at room temperature and away from excess heat and moisture (not in the bathroom). Throw away any medication that is outdated or no longer needed. Consult your pharmacist about how to dispose of unused medicine.

What other information should I know?

Keep all appointments with your doctor and the laboratory. Your doctor will order certain lab tests to check your response to Modafinil.

Do not let anyone else take your medication. Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about refilling your prescription.


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