Adrafinil vs. Modafinil | A-Z Guide

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 Adrafinil vs. Modafinil?

An interesting debate, to say the least, as both of these nootropics have strengths. While these smart drugs are technically different, they’re also quite similar in many ways.

In a nutshell:

  • Adrafinil converts into Modafinil in the body, so they have similar effects.
  • For Modafinil, unless you have a prescription and depending on where you live, it’s in a legal gray area.
  • Adrafinil isn’t in a legal gray area — it’s 100% legal to buy over-the-counter in the vast majority of countries.
On the other hand, most users find the effects of Modafinil to be significantly stronger than that of Adrafinil.

Adrafinil is like an extra cup of coffee for most. Modafinil is like having a superpower focused on getting work done quickly.

Still, the Adrafinil vs. Modafinil debate is more nuanced than the above. There are a few other variables to discuss before deciding which smart drug is best for your personal needs.

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This is not legal or medical advice. This article was strictly created for your entertainment. Please consult with your primary care physician or a medical professional with close working knowledge of your health -- before consuming pharmaceutical drugs or nootropics, like Modafinil. Please read my disclaimer.

What is Modafinil?

Simple…

Modafinil is the premier smart drug on the market.

Originally developed a few decades ago to treat narcolepsy, shift sleep disorder, sleep apnea, and other sleep disorders, the pharmaceutical drug is now being used as a cognitive enhancer by many around the globe.

Provigil is one of the brand names of the nootropic, but most users taking Modafinil as a smart drug usually buy their product from generic brands made in India. Popular generic Modafinil includes Modalert and Modvigil.

So what does it do? Pretty much everything.

When taking 100-200mg of Modafinil right upon getting up in the morning, you’ll experience laser-like focus and productivity for 10 to 12 — heck, sometimes even 14+ hours.

Modafinil works by boosting the amount of a series of neurotransmitters in your brain. The see brain chemicals work by increasing the efficiency of how electrical signals are passed in your brain. It has a particularly large effect on serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. Together, these make you feel more alert and boost your mood.

They also make you feel more focused so you can vastly increase your productivity. Some people even talk about feeling “invincible” (although don’t try jumping off any buildings or anything).

You might be thinking, “Great, people on the Internet like it… but does Modafinil actually work?”

Yes. There’s actually been a ton of research on the stuff because it’s a prescription medication.

Researchers find that it has powerful nootropic effects [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6].

While there may be the rare person it doesn’t work for, the science is pretty clear that virtually everyone experiences powerful nootropic effects. Even the press is getting in on it, with newspapers calling it the first real smart drug that works [ 7].

Generic Armodafinil Waklert

Modafinil Side Effects and Safety

Okay great, but is Modafinil safe?

Yes, absolutely. All research that’s been conducted on Modafinil suggests that it’s generally well-tolerated and safe. In fact, researchers from the University of Oxford said that Modafinil is the first drug for which there is convincing evidence that it’s effective and it’s clearly safe [6, 7].

What about Modafinil side effects?

Having said that, Modafinil users often sometimes do experience some minor side effects [8]. What do these side effects include? Well, here are some of the most common side effects for Modafinil:

  • Sleeplessness. While it’s not a stimulant, Modafinil is definitely a wakefulness agent. Modafinil helps you focus and do work, but it will also hinder your sleep. And it lasts quite a long time. So don’t take it too close to your bedtime or you could experience trouble sleeping.
  • Stomach issues. Some people experience nausea and diarrhea when taking Modafinil. In my experience, this is the most uncomfortable of the side effects; it messes with my digestive system. But even this can be managed by reducing sugar intake, increasing carbohydrate consumption, and simply remembering to eat (when you’re focused on your work, it’s easy to forget).
  • Dehydration. Again, this is another consequence of being focused: you can forget to drink water. But it’s important to stay hydrated. Keep a bottle of water near you when you work and you should be fine.
  • Headaches. Personally, I haven’t experienced these, but some modafinil users have said they can experience headaches. Again, it’s important to stay hydrated; if you do, you should minimize the risk of headaches.
  • Sweating. Some people find that this nootropic causes sweating.

Overall, Modafinil is quite safe, but you should be aware of the potential side effects.

None of them are serious for the vast majority of users, but certainly things to take into consideration.

What is Adrafinil?

On the other hand, Adrafinil [9] isn’t as popular or well-known as Modafinil. Adrafinil was designed with wakefulness, focus, and mood in mind — just like many other smart drugs.

Adrafinil was created in France as a pharmaceutical drug until it was discontinued in 2011. Originally, the drug was created as an alternative to Provigil. Since then, the smart drug has been manufactured over-the-counter as a nootropic.

Adrafinil has a similar chemical structure as Modafinil [9]. However, there are distinct differences. Adrafinil has an additional OH (hydroxyl group) in the amide nitrogen. This forms hydroxylamine.

Then the drug is converted to Modafinil once ingested inside the body [10, 11]. Modafinil is the biologically active ingredient in Adrafinil.

That means it has similar effects:

  • Wakefulness
  • Increased focus
  • Increased concentration
  • Boosted productivity
  • Increased fatigue

However, they are rarely as strong as Modafinil is. In fact, for prescription wakefulness uses, doctors typically skip Adrafinil now and go straight to Modafinil [11].

Adrafinil Side Effects and Safety

Okay great, so is Adrafinil safe? What are its side effects?

Yes, it’s safe.

Studies in rats have found that even humongous doses (400mg per Kilogram) failed to show any signs of toxicity [10]. The lethal dose is so high that they don’t even know what it is [12].

There has been one case study of a person who took 900mg every day for ten months and suffered from problems with the muscles in his mouth [13]. Similar effects have been observed (albeit very rarely) with Modafinil [14]. However, these effects weren’t permanent.

It’s also possible that Adrafinil is a little harder on your liver. I haven’t found research for this, but some users report that this is one of the downsides of Adrafinil.

In general, Adrafinil is generally understood to be well-tolerated.

What are its side effects?

They’re very similar to Modafinil. Here’s a few common Adrafinil side effects:

  • Sleeplessness. Again, this is a wakefulness substance. It’ll keep you up if you take it before sleeping [15].
  • Stomach issues. Make sure you eat normally, and especially high fiber foods.
  • Dehydration. Drink lots of water while you study.
  • Headaches. Again, stay hydrated.

For Adrafinil, like Modafinil, remember to eat normally and stay hydrated. And make sure you take it in the morning so that you’re not kept up at night — unless you’re pulling an all-nighter!

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Adrafinil vs. Modafinil | Similarities

Alright, so now that the basics and safety issues are covered, let’s take a look at the benefits and similarities of these nootropics.

Adrafinil and Modafinil were designed with similar purposes in mind. As such, an Adrafinil vs. Modafinil debate must begin with their similarities.

Both of these nootropics have the following effects:

  • Improved Cognition, Focus, & Productivity

Both Modafinil and Adrafinil are incredibly useful when looking to boost cognition, increase focus, and ultimately—become more productive. These are smart drugs, after all!

When you take one of these nootropics, you will feel an intense focus that’s sure to bump up your productivity or keep you focused on any task at hand. For CEOs, hustlers, and students—these seem to be the biggest benefits of any nootropic.

  • Promoting Wakefulness

Whether you’re working late nights or just looking to pull an all-nighter due to online work or studies, both of these nootropics do a solid job of keeping you up at night.

While Modafinil is a little stronger, you won’t be able to fall asleep after taking Adrafinil —if you dose it properly.

For hangovers or days after little sleep, both these nootropics will help you stay up and at ’em.

  • Safe Smart Drugs

Adrafinil and Modafinil are both relatively safe. Most users experience minimal side effects when taking either of these smart drugs.

While you need to drink a lot of fluids and plan to get to bed a little later than usual, there’s no real danger when taking these nootropics.

Another important benefit is that neither Modafinil nor Adrafinil have been shown to be habit-forming or addictive [16, 17]. This is because they don’t influence the neuronal pathways that are associated with addiction [18].

So you won’t find yourself needing to use more and more. This is a huge plus for individuals with addictive tendencies—like me! In fact, it might actually help people trying to reduce addictive behaviors like using alcohol [19] or gambling [20].

Modafinil vs. Adrafinil | Differences

While the Adrafinil vs. Modafinil discussion certainly demonstrates that these two smart drugs have tons of similarities, I found these smart drugs to be quite different regarding performance, dosing, and more.

Here are a few notable differences I found through my own experimentation and testing:

  • Are They Legal?

In most countries, Modafinil is a pharmaceutical drug. That means you’re technically supposed to have a prescription for it from a doctor to use for one of the conditions that it is indicated for — like sleep apnea or other sleep disorders. Depending on where you are, it might technically be illegal to possess.

For example, Provigil is considered a Schedule IV drug in the United States, which means it’s only allowed to be imported by a certified importer or a person with a prescription. You basically need a prescription to use it legally in the US

Though, again, other countries have different rules.

However, you’re not going to have any trouble with Adrafinil — it can be legally purchased over the counter without a prescription from a medical professional.

That’s one of the biggest benefits: Adrafinil is in a much less “gray area” when it comes to the law.

While you won’t have any issues buying Modafinil online, it must be noted that Adrafinil is legal⁠—a huge benefit for the consumer.

  • Effectiveness & Potency

Make no mistake about it:

Modafinil is significantly more potent and effective than Adrafinil. While the drugs are incredibly similar and designed to offer the same benefits, Modafinil simply does a better job at it.

As Adrafinil converts to Modafinil inside the body, one would think the effects would be similar. However, only a percentage of Adrafinil is converted to Modafinil. As such, some of the Adrafinil is simply wasted.

Modafinil is pure, while Adrafinil isn’t. That means you’ll need a higher dosage of Adrafinil to get similar effects as Modafinil.

  • Dosing, Onset, and Half-Life

To get similar effects as Modafinil, you’ll be taking a lot of Adrafinil. For example, 200mg is a normal dose for Modafinil. To get that same dose from Adrafinil, you’ll need about 400-600mg.

Adrafinil also tends to take around two full hours to kick in. Why? Because it takes an hour or so for the drug to convert into Modafinil and then another hour for the Modafinil to kick in.

On the other hand, most Modafinil users find the effects start working around one hour after consumption. So keep that in mind when you’re planning your work session.

Also, Adrafinil doesn’t last as long. Where Modafinil may last from 10-12 to even 14 hours, Adrafinil will only last about 8-10 hours. Sometimes even less.

Depending on your situation, the half-life of Adrafinil can be hugely beneficial. If you’re planning a full day of work, Modafinil might be the best choice.

But if you’re only getting started in the afternoon, Adrafinil might actually be a better choice. It might allow you to have a productive afternoon, but not keep you awake at night. That’s not possible with Modafinil.

  • Costs

Provigil, one of the brand names of Modafinil, is incredibly expensive⁠—even when using health insurance to buy the drug at a pharmacy. Of course, you don’t need to buy the brand name; you can get generic Modafinil for as low as $0.89 per 200mg pill.

Still, that can get expensive for students or hustlers that may be using it regularly. Not all of us have unlimited funds at our disposal.

On the other hand, Adrafinil can be found for as low as $0.69 per serving. Now, to get similar effects as Modafinil, you’ll likely end up spending more on this nootropic. However, on a serving by serving basis, Adrafinil can be cheaper.

How to Use Nootropics Properly

It must be noted that using any smart drugs on a daily basis is not advisable. Keeping your Modafinil usage to 1-3 times a week is ideal.

Adrafinil can be used to replace Modafinil usage. You can also add Adrafinil into your weekly routine on days when you don’t take Modafinil. However, as Adrafinil converts to Modafinil in the body, it’s imperative to monitor the usage of this smart drug, too.

Overall, a schedule of 1-2 Modafinil days and 1-2 Adrafinil days per week is doable. You could also switch to Adrafinil completely and use the smart drug 1-3 times per week.

And, to build in some variety, you can also try a number of the other smart drugs that actually work. Variety is the spice of life!

The best thing to do is to test out what type of schedule and dosing works best for you. Your body will be quick to respond and tell you what’s working and what isn’t.

What Nootropic Should You Buy?

So, at the end of the day, which should you buy:

Modafinil or Adrafinil?

Overall, Modafinil is much better.

We would recommend that to most people, especially if you’ve already been experimenting a bit with nootropics.

But Adrafinil might be right for some people. For example, anyone in these situations might be better off with Adrafinil:

  • You’re brand new to nootropics and want to start out with something a little less potent.
  • You’ve checked the Country Guides and found out that Modafinil is not legal where you are and you don’t want to risk your order getting confiscated.
  • You’re on a budget and you want something a little cheaper.
  • You plan on taking it later in the day and want a shorter-acting substance.

In those cases, Adrafinil might be a better choice.

But otherwise, most people will get more out of Modafinil.

Adrafinil vs. Modafinil | The Verdict

Overall, Modafinil is much more effective and potent.

If you’re looking to optimize your life and make the most out of your smart drug day, then Modafinil is the only option.

But if you’re new to nootropics, or if you’re looking for 5-6 hours of intense focus now and then, Adrafinil can offer just that⁠ — without the negative side effect of possibly keeping you up at night that Modafinil can cause if you take it too late in the day.

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References

  1. Ballon, J. S., & Feifel, D. (2006). A systematic review of modafinil: potential clinical uses and mechanisms of action. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 67(4), 554-566.
  2. Turner, D. C., Robbins, T. W., Clark, L., Aron, A. R., Dowson, J., & Sahakian, B. J. (2003). Cognitive enhancing effects of modafinil in healthy volunteers. Psychopharmacology, 165(3), 260-269.
  3. Gilleen, J., Michalopoulou, P. G., Reichenberg, A., Drake, R., Wykes, T., Lewis, S. W., & Kapur, S. (2014). Modafinil combined with cognitive training is associated with improved learning in healthy volunteers–a randomised controlled trial. European Neuropsychopharmacology, 24(4), 529-539.
  4. Baranski, J. V., Pigeau, R., Dinich, P., & Jacobs, I. (2004). Effects of modafinil on cognitive and meta‐cognitive performance. Human Psychopharmacology: Clinical and Experimental, 19(5), 323-332.
  5. Mohamed, A. D. (2016). The effects of modafinil on convergent and divergent thinking of creativity: a randomized controlled trial. The Journal of Creative Behavior, 50(4), 252-267.
  6. Battleday, R. M., & Brem, A. K. (2015). Modafinil for cognitive neuroenhancement in healthy non-sleep-deprived subjects: a systematic review. European Neuropsychopharmacology, 25(11), 1865-1881.
  7. Thomson, H., (2015). Narcolepsy medication modafinil is world’s first safe ‘smart drug’. The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/science/2015/aug/20/narcolepsy-medication-modafinil-worlds-first-safe-smart-drug
  8. WebMD (n.d.). Modafinil Side Effects by Likelihood and Severity. https://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-16962/modafinil-oral/details/list-sideeffects
  9. Pub Chem (2020). Adrafinil. https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/adrafinil#section=Depositor-Supplied-Synonyms
  10. Milgram, N. W., Callahan, H., & Siwak, C. (1999). Adrafinil: a novel vigilance promoting agent. CNS Drug Reviews, 5(3), 193-212.
  11. Patel, K. (n.d.). Adrafinil. Examine.com https://examine.com/supplements/adrafinil/
  12. Bastoji, H., & Jouvet, M. (1988). Successful treatment of idiopathic hypersomnia and narcolepsy with modafinil. Progress in Neuro-psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry, 12(5), 695-700.
  13. Thobois, S., Xie, J., Mollion, H., Benatru, I., & Broussolle, E. (2004). Adrafinil‐induced orofacial dyskinesia. Movement Disorders: Official Journal of the Movement Disorder Society, 19(8), 965-966.
  14. Maser, R. V., Liao, B., & Pandya, R. (2010). Modafinil-induced orofacial dyskinesia in an elderly patient with refractory bipolar depression. The Journal of neuropsychiatry and clinical neurosciences, 22(4), 451-e26.
  15. Baranski, J., & Pigeau, R. (1997). Self‐monitoring cognitive performance during sleep deprivation: effects of modafinil, d‐amphetamine and placebo. Journal of Sleep Research, 6(2), 84-91.
  16. Myrick, H., Malcolm, R., Taylor, B., & LaROWE, S. T. E. V. E. N. (2004). Modafinil: preclinical, clinical, and post-marketing surveillance—a review of abuse liability issues. Annals of Clinical Psychiatry, 16(2), 101-109.
  17. Jasinski, D. R., & Kovacevic-Ristanovic, R. (2000). Evaluation of the abuse liability of modafinil and other drugs for excessive daytime sleepiness associated with narcolepsy. Clinical Neuropharmacology, 23(3), 149-156.
  18. Patel, K. (n.d.). Modafinil. Examine.com https://examine.com/supplements/modafinil/research/#neurology\_addiction
  19. Schmaal, L., Joos, L., Koeleman, M., Veltman, D. J., van den Brink, W., & Goudriaan, A. E. (2013). Effects of modafinil on neural correlates of response inhibition in alcohol-dependent patients. Biological Psychiatry, 73(3), 211-218.
  20. Zack, M., & Poulos, C. X. (2009). Effects of the atypical stimulant modafinil on a brief gambling episode in pathological gamblers with high vs. low impulsivity. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 23(6), 660-671.

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