Is Modafinil Safe? | What You MUST Know

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Is Modafinil safe?

This can be a major worry for the majority of people thinking about trying Modafinil. A wonder pill sounds great, but there’s gotta be a downside — right?

The long and short of it is that the research says it is absolutely safe and well-tolerated for most people.

But there are some Modafinil side effects that you should be aware of.

In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about Modafinil safety and how to get the best experience from the nootropic.

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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?

Modafinil is a prescription medication that’s used to enhance wakefulness—usually for people who get tired during the day because they suffer from a sleep disorder like [1]:

  • Narcolepsy
  • Shift work sleep disorder
  • Obstructive sleep apnea

More than simply keep people awake, though, it’s been found to have a ton of nootropic effects. Researchers have found that it contributes to:

  • Improved memory [2]
  • Insanely acute concentration [3, 4]
  • Improved cognition [2, 5, 6]
  • Enhanced motivation for work [5]
  • Boosted mood [5, 7]
  • and more

These effects are why it’s been used by professionals in a ton of different situations and contexts like military missions [8], at startup companies [9], in the International Space Station [10], and to boost performance in sports.

It’s basically the “Limitless” pill in real life.

Modafinil Side Effects and Safety

So, it works… but is Modafinil safe?

Yes. We’ve written a full article on Modafinil’s side effects, but let’s review a bit more of all of that here. Some of the most common side effects include:

  • Sleep Issues: Modafinil is a wakefulness-promoting agent. So, it’s no surprise that it’s difficult to sleep on Modafinil. If you take Modafinil, don’t expect to fall asleep for 14-15 hours.
  • Stomach Issues: Modafinil can cause nausea and diarrhea. In our experience, this is is a relatively common issue. However, this is a minor side effect and can almost be cleared up by lowering or eliminating sugars in your diet, adding carbs, and remembering to eat three meals.
  • Dehydration: It can be difficult to drink enough water when you’re using Modafinil and drinking coffee. Both substances can leave you dehydrated. We combat this Modafinil side effect by keeping a gallon of water by our side.

Other Modafinil side effects

Some of the other more common side effects include [11]:

  • Headaches
  • Restlessness
  • Nervousness or anxiety
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness

These are the most common Modafinil side effects, but research suggests that they actually are still not very common for most people. For example, only about 17% of users experience headaches, the most common side effect [12]. That means that 83% percent don’t.

Most people will probably not experience any side effects.

Rare Modafinil side effects

There are some side effects of Modafinil that are much rarer but are also more serious. These include [13]:

  • Dry mouth
  • Hallucinations
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Sores
  • Bruising and/or bleeding
  • Stevens-Johnson
  • Syndrome (skin rashes)

If you’re curious about other Modafinil side effects, check this out.

Is Modafinil Safe?

Okay, there are some side effects… but is Modafinil safe overall?

Yes, Modafinil is safe.

Virtually all the researchers agree on this: reviews of the research consistently note that Modafinil is “safe and well-tolerated” [14, 15, 16].

However, there is a bit to know about Modafinil safety and if you belong to certain groups you should take extra caution.

Modafinil overdose

An overdose technically happens any time you take more than the recommended dose. The recommended Modafinil dosage for most conditions is between 100 mg and 200 mg. That’s what works best for its use as a nootropic as well [17].

What happens if you take more than the prescribed dose? Is Modafinil overdose fatal?

No, no one has ever been reported to have died from a Modafinil overdose. Researchers have given participants up to 1,200 mg a day for three weeks (about 10 times the recommended dose) and they were fine; there were no “unexpected or life-threatening effects” [18]. They even gave massive doses of up to 4,500 mg in a single day, and no one had any life-threatening conditions [18].

One person took 8 grams—over 40 times the recommended dose—and was fine [19]. One person tried to commit suicide and took a huge dose of 5 grams of Modafinil, but was also fine [20]. Even children who have accidentally ingested huge amounts of Modafinil have survived and were fine [18].

What does happen is that you are at a greater risk of experiencing some unpleasant side effects. So make sure you don’t take too much Modafinil to Modafinil side effects.

Special populations

Modafinil isn’t appropriate for everyone. You should not take Modafinil if you belong to one of these groups [18]:

  • Pregnant women: there has been some research conducted in animals that suggests Modafinil could harm a fetus.
  • Breastfeeding women: There have not been any studies looking at the effect of Modafinil on a baby through breast milk, but since Modafinil could harm a fetus, it’s recommended that breastfeeding women do not use it.
  • Children: studies on Modafinil safety profiles in children have not been conducted, so it is not clear if it is safe for use in pediatric populations. Children should not take Modafinil.
  • People with cardiac disease or hypertension: Modafinil may raise blood pressure. If you have heart problems, talk to your doctor before using Modafinil.

Some populations may be at greater risk from side effects than others. If you belong to these populations, you can take Modafinil, but your doctor may adjust your dosage to improve safety [18]:

  • Older adults: Geriatric individuals may not metabolize Modafinil as quickly as younger individuals, so it may stay in the body longer. Modafinil dosage may be adjusted as appropriate.
  • Individuals with liver damage: Much of Modafinil is metabolized by the liver. People with impaired liver functioning may need to adjust their dosage.
  • People on other medications that interact with Modafinil: Medications that are broken down using the same enzymes that break down Modafinil may not function or metabolize normally. Modafinil dosage or the dosage of the other medications may need to be adjusted.

Modafinil interactions

To maximize Modafinil safety, it’s important to know how Modafinil may interact with other medications. When drugs interact with each other, they can behave unpredictably. Avoiding interactions helps you avoid an unpredictable adverse effect.

Modafinil has an effect on particular liver enzymes which are important for breaking down some other drugs [21]. That means that other drugs that are broken down by the CYP1A2, CYP2B6, or CYP3A4/5 enzymes may interact with Modafinil. These include [22, 23]:

  • Opioids
  • Citalopram
  • Hydrocodone
  • Methadone
  • Adderall
  • Dasabuvir
  • Paritaprevir
  • Ranolazine
  • Ritonavir
  • Tipranavir

What Makes Modafinil Safe?

Why do most people have relatively few issues when taking one of the world’s most powerful wakefulness agents?

Here are a few reasons why Modafinil is safe:

  • Not a stimulant: Modafinil is not a powerful stimulant like Adderall or cocaine. These drugs keep you awake by adding neurotransmitters and chemicals—and they can make you feel energized or jittery. Modafinil doesn’t add that feeling of stimulation; instead, it takes away the feeling of tiredness. As such, most users find Modafinil to be a safer alternative to real stimulants.
  • Not habit-forming: People don’t usually get addicted to Modafinil—the risk of abuse is very low [24, 2526]. The smart drug isn’t like cocaine or even Adderall—you won’t wake up after taking Modafinil for a week straight with a burning desire to pop another smart pill. Actually, many have studied using Modafinil to wane drug users off their high of choice.

Is It Safe to Take Modafinil Every Day?

Well, yes

Research on Modafinil safety has found that people taking even very high doses every day for three weeks were fine. People with sleep disorders regularly take normal doses of Modafinil every day.

But we definitely don’t recommend it, especially not for nootropic purposes.

While it may be safe, it’s not great to take anything every day. And it could be that taking Modafinil every day could contribute to you developing tolerance and ultimately having to take more to feel an effect. So while you can take Modafinil every day safely, you probably shouldn’t

We take it 1-2 times a week max. That’s enough to help us get through everything we need to, but not so much that there are any adverse effects.

Of course, if you have a sleep condition and your doctor tells you to take it every day, then of course — go for it.

How to Take Modafinil Safely | 5 Quick Tips

Now that we know Modafinil is relatively safe, let’s talk about how to eliminate as many risks as possible.

Here’s a few quick tips:

  • Cycle it: Unless you have a medical condition, cycle your Modafinil usage. If you’re using it as a nootropic, try to only take Modafinil 1-3 times a week, maximum. Avoid taking Modafinil more than 8-10 days in a 30 day period.
  • Low dosage: Anything over 200mg of Modafinil is not advisable. 300mg is fine on occasion, but for most users, 200mg is all you need to feel great effects and see benefits. Plus, 200mg will keep side effects minimized.
  • Take time off: If you use Modafinil 8-10 times a month for a few months, take some time off. Go 2-3 weeks without Modafinil and reset your tolerance levels. This is important when using it as a smart drug.
  • Only take in the morning: Modafinil can hurt your sleep schedule. That’s one of it’s biggest downfalls. To combat this, try to only take Modafinil before 11 AM. We try to take the smart drug between 8-9 AM.
  • Remember to eat and drink: Modafinil will suppress your appetite, and you may not feel thirsty, either. It’s important to drink a lot of water when using the smart drug and eat your meals at normal times.

By following these five tips, you’ll find taking Modafinil safely isn’t much of an issue.

Unless you have a bad reaction, you shouldn’t have any problem enjoying 12-15+ hours of pure focus when taking Modafinil.

Modafinil Safety Guide | Verdict

Is Modafinil safe? For the vast majority of users, yes, Modafinil is quite safe. Research is consistent on that.

In fact, authors of a comprehensive review of Modafinil and its effects have concluded, “Modafinil seems to be the first ‘smart drug’ that is reasonably safe for healthy people” [27].

The smart drug offers a great safety profile when compared to other wakefulness agents. Speak with your doctor and then give the nootropic a try for yourself.

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References

  1. Gerrard, P. & Malcolm, R. (2007). Mechanisms of modafinil: A review of current research. Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, 3(3), 349.
  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. Wesensten, N. J. (2006). Effects of modafinil on cognitive performance and alertness during sleep deprivation. Current Pharmaceutical Design, 12(20), 2457-2471.
  4. Cope, Z. A., Minassian, A., Kreitner, D., MacQueen, D. A., Milienne-Petiot, M., Geyer, M. A., … & Young, J. W. (2017). Modafinil improves attentional performance in healthy, non-sleep deprived humans at doses not inducing hyperarousal across species. Neuropharmacology, 125, 254-262.
  5. Müller, U., Rowe, J. B., Rittman, T., Lewis, C., Robbins, T. W., & Sahakian, B. J. (2013). Effects of modafinil on non-verbal cognition, task enjoyment and creative thinking in healthy volunteers. Neuropharmacology, 64, 490-495.
  6. Jean‐Pierre, P., Morrow, G. R., Roscoe, J. A., Heckler, C., Mohile, S., Janelsins, M., … & Hopkins, J. O. (2010). A phase 3 randomized, placebo‐controlled, double‐blind, clinical trial of the effect of modafinil on cancer‐related fatigue among 631 patients receiving chemotherapy: a University of Rochester Cancer Center Community Clinical Oncology Program Research base study. Cancer, 116(14), 3513-3520.
  7. Ballas, C. A., Kim, D., Baldassano, C. F., & Hoeh, N. (2002). Modafinil: Past, present and future. Expert Review of Neurotherapeutics, 2(4), 449-457.
  8. Martin, R. (2003). It’s wake up time. Wired. https://www.wired.com/2003/11/sleep/
  9. Arrington, R. (2008). How many Silicon Valley startup executives are hopped up on Provigil? Tech Crunch. https://techcrunch.com/2008/07/15/how-many-of-our-startup-executives-are-hopped-up-on-provigil/
  10. Thirsk, R., Kuipers, A., Mukai, C., & Williams, D. (2009). The space-flight environment: The International Space Station and beyond. CMAJ, 180(12), 1216-1220.
  11. Kumar, R. (2008). Approved and investigational uses of modafinil. Drugs, 68(13), 1803-1839.
  12. Greenblatt, K., & Adams, N. (2018). Modafinil. StatPearls Publishing. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK531476/
  13. Mayo Clinic (n.d.) Modafinil side effects. https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/modafinil-oral-route/side-effects/drg-20064870
  14. Moldofsky, H., Broughton, R. J., & Hill, J. D. (2000). A randomized trial of the long-term, continued efficacy and safety of modafinil in narcolepsy. Sleep Medicine, 1(2), 109-116.
  15. Murillo-Rodríguez, E., Barciela Veras, A., Barbosa Rocha, N., Budde, H., & Machado, S. (2018). An overview of the clinical uses, pharmacology, and safety of modafinil. ACS Chemical Neuroscience, 9(2), 151-158.
  16. Thompson, 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
  17. Drugs.com (2019). Modafinil. https://www.drugs.com/pro/modafinil.html
  18. FDA (n.d.). Provigil: highlights of prescribing information. https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2015/020717s037s038lbl.pdf
  19. Spiller, H. A., Hays, H. L., & Aleguas, A. (2013). Overdose of drugs for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder: Clinical presentation, mechanisms of toxicity, and management. CNS Drugs, 27(7), 531-543.
  20. Neuman, G., Shehadeh, N., & Pillar, G. (2009). Unsuccessful suicide attempt of a 15 year old adolescent with ingestion of 5000 mg modafinil. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, 5(4), 372-373.
  21. Robertson, P., DeCory, H. H., Madan, A., & Parkinson, A. (2000). In vitro inhibition and induction of human hepatic cytochrome P450 enzymes by modafinil. Drug Metabolism Disposition, 28(6), 664-671.
  22. Drugs.com (2019). Modafinil Interactions. https://www.drugs.com/drug-interactions/modafinil.html
  23. Epocrates (n.d.) Modafinil. https://online.epocrates.com/drugs/227404/modafinil/Drug-Interactions
  24. Hart, C. L., Haney, M., Vosburg, S. K., Comer, S. D., Gunderson, E., & Foltin, R. W. (2006). Modafinil attenuates disruptions in cognitive performance during simulated night-shift work. Neuropsychopharmacology, 31(7), 1526-1536.
  25. Mereu, M., Bonci, A., Newman, A. H., & Tanda, G. (2013). The neurobiology of modafinil as an enhancer of cognitive performance and a potential treatment for substance use disorders. Psychopharmacology, 229(3), 415-434.
  26. Rush, C. R., Kelly, T. H., Hays, L. R., Baker, R. W., & Wooten, A. F. (2002). Acute behavioral and physiological effects of modafinil in drug abusers. Behavioural Pharmacology, 13(2), 105-115.
  27. Thompson, 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

Table of Contents

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