Informational

Modafinil Effects: Here’s What to Expect When Taking It

It’s been 7 hours since first taking that little white tablet.

It’s now 10 pm.

You look around you and find that big stack of paper you had to work through is now gone— you’ve had one of the most productive evenings of your life and the modafinil is still going strong.

You’re feeling motivated and ready for more, so you start working on that side project you’ve been putting off for the last six months because “you were too busy.”

This is modafinil.

Here we discuss the effects of modafinil in more detail, how it works, and what you can expect when taking the drug for the first time.

What is Modafinil Used For?

Modafinil is classified as a stimulant and eugeroic medication. This means it produces a feeling of being wide awake and makes it easier to focus on tasks.

It can be compared to caffeine— only much stronger and longer lasting. Modafinil can change your mental state from being groggy and tired, to clear-headed and alert.

It’s used to induce a waking state within the brain. For this reason, one of the primary uses of modafinil is in the treatment of sleeping disorders like narcolepsy.

Modafinil also increases the concentrations of dopamine in the brain by preventing its reuptake into the synapses. These effects make it useful for conditions involved with lower dopamine levels such as ADHD.

In healthy individuals, both of these effects are used to improve productivity, and to help people endure long overnight sessions spent studying or working.

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How Does Modafinil Feel?

Describing exactly how modafinil feels isn’t easy. This is because modafinil doesn’t cause any stark differences in perception the same way marijuanaalcohol, or illicit drugs do.

Let’s break the way modafinil makes us feel into it’s two main effects— motivated and awake.

1. Modafinil Makes us Feel Motivated

Modafinil is great for boosting motivation. This is hard to quantify— but impossible to deny.

People unanimously report finding extreme bursts of motivation to accomplish tasks after taking modafinil.

This may be the main reason behind why modafinil works so well for ADHD sufferers. This group of people find it notoriously difficult to motivate themselves to finish a project, especially if they find it boring or tedious. Modafinil eliminates these problems with motivation.

After taking it, these otherwise boring tasks become easy to focus on and power through. We begin to work diligently— even on boring or tedious tasks.

Of course, this also works on tasks that you find interesting!

2. Modafinil Makes us Feel Awake & Alert

Perhaps the easiest effect of modafinil to quantify and talk about is its ability to make us feel awake… Very awake.

Modafinil stimulates areas of the brain associated with wakefulness— and it’s powerful. So powerful it’s able to eliminate the debilitating side effects narcoleptics experience— which is excessive daytime sleepiness, and sudden drop-offs into a deep sleep.

Modafinil takes about one hour to kick in and tends to build gradually over the course of two hours before reaching full effect. In this time, you can clearly feel your energy levels increasing. You become more perceptive to your environment, the room brightens, and you find a compelling drive to jump out of your chair and start getting stuff done.

Ordering Modafinil Online

Modafinil is a prescription-only medication.

This means that in order to buy it at the pharmacy, you need to have a doctors prescription.

You can, however, buy your modafinil online without a prescription. The reason why this works is that modafinil falls in a legal grey area in most countries.

By purchasing modafinil online, you can buy generic versions of the drug from vendors located in parts of the world that have fewer laws around the sale of the medication. A common place for this is India.

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How Modafinil Feels vs. Other Stimulants

Although modafinil is a unique compound, it’s not the first of its kind in terms of its effects. In fact, humans have been using stimulants for thousands of years to make us more productive.

Early humans used herbs like coffee, guarana, and kola nut to give us a boost on long hunting trips or overnight ceremonies.

In the modern era, we now have a few dozen compounds with stimulating effects— including caffeine, Adderall, Ritalin, Vyvanse, theobromine, and many more.

How does modafinil compare to other common stimulants regarding its effect profile?

1. Modafinil vs. Caffeine

Modafinil and caffeine have a lot of similarities in their effects— both boost wakefulness and are popular among people who need to stay up late into the evening to finish a project or cram for an exam.

Caffeine is classified chemically as a methylxanthine derivative.

It’s been used as a psychoactive drug for a long period of time. The way it was obtained was by consuming the plants that produce it.

Some examples include coffee from the Middle East, tea from Asia, and yerba maté from South America.

For healthy adults, the half-life of caffeine is 5 hours [26]. This is nothing compared to the 15-hour half-life of modafinil. This means that the stimulating effects of modafinil last more than three times that of caffeine.

Caffeine works by inhibiting a compound in the brain called adenosine that builds up throughout the day to make us feel tired [6, 7]. This makes caffeine useful for “inhibiting sleepiness,” but doesn’t actually “stimulate” the brain— not like modafinil anyway.

Modafinil is considered to be much more potent than caffeine and lasts much longer.

Caffeine also has limits that modafinil doesn’t. If we’re very tired— such as after a long day at work— even pure caffeine might not be enough to get rid of our fatigue. However, modafinil will remove almost any level of fatigue no matter what. It uses brute force to make sure all the on switches in the brain are activated.

Modafinil is, therefore, a more reliable, and longer lasting stimulant than caffeine. 

2. Modafinil vs. Adderall

Adderall is the closest alternative to modafinil in terms of its effect profile. To no surprise, it’s used to treat virtually the same conditions as Adderall and is popular off-label for the same applications.

As a medication, Adderall (amphetamine) is used to treat traumatic brain injury, chronic fatigue syndrome, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and hypnolepsy [2-3].

Adderall works differently than modafinil— but has some overlapping effects on neurotransmitters such as dopamine.

The difference is that Adderall is less specific on what receptors it triggers in the brain— creating a greater tendency for producing side effects.

Amphetamines increase the feeling of being awake, and can dramatically boost motivation and energy levels in a similar context to modafinil. Unfortunately, Adderall can be too stimulating for some people— causing muscle tension, jaw clenching, headaches, and anxiety. Amphetamines (Adderall) are also highly addictive [4].

Modafinil and Adderall have similar effects. However, modafinil causes fewer side-effects along the way.

For more information, visit our comparison of modafinil & Adderall.

3. Modafinil vs. Ritalin

Ritalin has become a common treatment for ADHD in recent years. This is due to the cheap cost, and proven efficacy for the condition. Ritalin also comes in a wide variety of different versions, including delayed, or quick release tablets, and liquids. It’s also been around for a much longer time than modafinil and is, therefore, more established as a medicine.

Ritalin is also a stimulant and has effects that are very similar to Adderall, though not as strong in its effects.

Many users consider Ritalin to have a good effect on motivation and energy but come with too many side effects to be enjoyable. Modafinil is similar— but is much more specific in its receptor activity in the brain, and therefore has far fewer side effects.

Many regular Ritalin users have since switched over to modafinil because of their similarities in effects— but lower chances of experiencing side-effects. 

For more information, visit our comparison of modafinil and Ritalin.

User Reports of Modafinil

The thing about modafinil is that because it works so well for improving concentration and productivity, there are a lot of very detailed reviews on modafinil online (probably written while on modafinil).

Reddit is especially rich in user reports of the drug.

A typical day on modafinil goes something like this:

8 am: I take 200 mg of modafinil with a black tea and some breakfast.

9 am: I arrive at work and start getting set up for the day. I focus on what tasks have the biggest priority for the day. At this point, it’s hard to say if the drug is taking effect or not.

9:30 am: By this time, I am in a solid groove with work. I am getting a lot done already and am starting to finding it easy to dial in.

11 am: The past hour and a half were extremely productive. Most of the quota I set out for the day is already nearly complete. Another hour and a half of this and I’ll be ahead of schedule. However, my bladder feels full, and I am starting to get fidgety.

12 pm: My productivity is still very high, but I am starting to get impatient with my computer. Web pages are taking way too long to load, and Diane keeps asking me stupid questions via email. I am getting frustrated easily.

2 pm: Most of my work for the day is done, and I am now working on some side projects. I was getting very fidgety but took some L-Theanine tablets at 12:30 and have since stopped moving around. I have had to pee about six times already and have no appetite despite not having eaten lunch.

4 pm: The drug’s effects feel as though they are wearing off, and I am finding myself much less productive. I’m still getting a lot done, however, and will hang around at work for another hour or so and then head home.

6 pm: After arriving home, I notice I am starting to develop a headache. I try to remind myself to eat some food and chug about a liter (33 oz.) of water. I make some quick pasta and eat a few bites, but I’m just not that hungry. Instead, I make myself a protein smoothie and chug it back. A headache remained but only as a low-grade ache for the rest of the night. The Modafinil effects have been gradually decreasing over the past few hours, but I still feel wired.

8 pm: I don’t feel any of the drug anymore, and am in fact quite tired. It’s going to be another early night — overall an extremely productive day. I was able to get all of my work done, and spent nearly half the day putting a big dent in my side project to boot.

What are the Side Effects of Modafinil?

Like any medication, there’s a list of side effects one might encounter when taking the drug.

Although the majority of side effects are only mild, they’re important to be aware of.

The Most Common Side Effects of Modafinil Include:

  • Headaches
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Increased urination
  • Poor appetite
  • Low libido
  • Anxiety
  • Fidgeting behavior
  • Heart palpitations
  • Racing heart
  • Shortness of breath

Tips for Getting the Most From Your Modafinil

Modafinil can be an extremely useful tool. There are, however, some downsides that you need to pay attention to to get the most out of it.

1. Ensure You’re Drinking Water Throughout the Day

It’s easy to forget to drink water on modafinil, yet it’s extremely important if you want to avoid getting a headache later in the day.

Modafinil increases urine output and has a dehydrating effect on the body.

Try keeping a big bottle of water near you at all times.

2. Eat Both Lunch and Dinner

It’s also easy to forget to eat when on modafinil.

Take a prepackaged lunch with you when you go to work if you’re taking modafinil. Choose foods that are smaller, but nutrient dense. The lack of hunger makes it difficult to eat larger meals, so its best to take small protein-rich smoothies, or power bars to eat for lunch or as a snack throughout the day.

3. Use Supplements

There are a lot of supplements that can help reduce the chances of developing side effects on modafinil.

Some of the better options are L-Theanine for jitteriness or anxiety, magnesium for headaches and muscle tension, or berberine for increasing the length of time the drug remains active in the system.

4. Go to Bed at a Reasonable Time.

Modafinil promotes wakefulness, but you still require adequate amounts of sleep each night. It’s easy to become sleep deprived with regular modafinil use. This is something you want to avoid as much as you can. It’s only going to hurt your productivity in the long run, and cause you to become extra irritable and frustrated. Ensure you are sleeping a full 8 hours every single night.

Summing it up

Modafinil feels similar to other stimulants— such as caffeine, Adderall, and Ritalin— but has some distinct differences.

Compared to natural stimulants like caffeine, modafinil is stronger and longer lasting. When comparing to other pharmaceutical stimulants like Adderall or Ritalin— modafinil produces virtually the same effect profile, but with lower chances of developing side-effects.

We always recommend paying attention to the amount of water and food you’re eating whenever taking modafinil to get the most out of it and avoid side effects.

When used correctly modafinil can become an excellent productivity tool to help you power through a tough project— or to become more productive in your day to day activities.

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Informational

Read our informational articles for all there is to know about Modafinil