What Is Modafinil? | A Beginner’s Guide

Tomas Thorne

Last Updated: February 18, 2023

What Is Modafinil

Have you ever wondered, “What is Modafinil?

If so, you’ve come to just the right place.

In this guide, we’ll explain everything you need to know about this fascinating drug, from its benefits and side effects to where to buy it, and how to dose it properly to get the maximum benefits.

Our sole aim for this guide is to give you a complete overview. We’ll show you the best way to use this smart drug, what to look out for, and everything in between.

We’ll also share our top recommendation for a natural alternative, and so much more.

Everything you MUST know about Modafinil can be found below.

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Disclaimer: The contents of Modafinil.com are for informational and educational purposes only. We do not provide legal advice. Likewise, we do not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please consult your physician prior to consuming Modafinil or related nootropics. Your access to Modafinil.com is subject to our full Disclaimer and Terms of Use.

What is Modafinil?

Modafinil is a prescription drug that promotes wakefulness and reduces drowsiness and sleepiness.

It was discovered in France in the mid-1970s and developed as a treatment for narcolepsy, a condition that causes people to become drowsy or fall asleep during the day [1].

Modafinil was first released in France in 1994 and went on sale as ‘Modiodal’. It proved to be highly effective at treating narcolepsy, like sleep apnea, and Shift Work Sleep Disorder (SWSD). It was soon released throughout the world under various brand names.

Doctors and researchers soon realized that Modafinil wasn’t just great at helping people stay awake, it also helped improve brain function and memory in adults, especially when they were sleep-deprived. Studies revealed that it helped treat Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) [2], and cocaine addiction [3], besides other cognitive ailments.

Numerous studies have shown that Modafinil offers benefits such as:

  • Reduced feelings of fatigue [4].
  • Improved memory [5].
  • Greater focus and concentration [6].
  • Enhanced executive functioning.

Due to these benefits, Modafinil has become extremely popular as a ‘nootropic’ or ‘smart drug’. It is widely consumed ‘off prescription’ by people who want to improve their mental performance and boost their focus, memory, and motivation.

Modafinil Is What

Modafinil Side Effects and Safety

While Modafinil does have strong nootropic effects, it’s a prescription-only drug in most countries around the world.

Even when it’s prescribed by a doctor, Modafinil can cause some side effects. It’s important to know about these and use this drug responsibly, whether you are prescribed Modafinil or decide to take it off prescription as a nootropic.

Studies have shown that Modafinil is a very safe and well-tolerated drug that causes few side effects. For example, one study looked at what happened when people without narcolepsy were given a 200mg dose of Modafinil [7]. The vast majority of participants experienced no side effects at all and a small minority experienced side effects like:

  • Dry mouth/throat
  • Headaches
  • Upset stomach/nausea
  • Anxiety
  • Sleeplessness/Insomnia
  • Diarrhea

To understand Modafinil’s side effects and safety, it’s important to dive a little deeper into how it works. Modafinil is essentially a stimulant that increases levels of histamine in the brain [8]. This extra histamine is what gives Modafinil its focus-boosting properties, but it can also interrupt your normal sleep schedule and lead to sleeplessness and/or insomnia [9].

Excess histamine also acts as a powerful appetite suppressant, which causes users to forget to eat and drink. This is the main reason behind side effects like headaches, a dry mouth/throat, and an upset stomach/nausea.

Modafinil also elevates levels of dopamine by blocking the reuptake of dopamine in the brain [10]. This extra dopamine is helpful because it boosts your mood, memory, and ability to properly manage your time [11]. However, it’s also the main reason why Modafinil is a prescription drug and needs to be treated with caution.

Although Modafinil is considered non-addictive, animal studies have suggested that Modafinil has a lower risk of dependence due to the way that it increases dopamine in a portion of the brain called the nucleus accumbens. This is the region of the brain that processes the rewarding effects of drugs of abuse [12, 13]. This is why excessive consumption of Modafinil may lead to addiction in vulnerable individuals [14, 15].

Overall, Modafinil is extremely safe but you should not take it if you are:

  • Are taking prescription drugs that interact with Modafinil.
  • Suffer from severe anxiety, depression, or any mental disorder.
  • Rely on steroidal contraceptives for birth control, as Modafinil reduces the effectiveness of this type of contraception.
  • Are pregnant, as Modafinil has been linked to birth defects [16].

How Long Does Modafinil Last?

That’s a complex question in some ways, simple in others.

Modafinil is a long-lasting cognitive enhancer that has two parts: an R-enantiomer and S-enantiomer. These last for 15 hours and 4 hours respectively.

In general, Modafinil kicks in around 1-2 hours after you take it and lasts for around 12+ hours.

Overall, its half-life is between 10-14 hours, so that’s generally how long you can expect its cognitive effects to last.

Modafinil Dosage Guide

If you decide to take Modafinil ‘off prescription’ as a nootropic, your goal should be to maximize its cognitive benefits (such as elevated mood, memory, and concentration), while minimizing its side effects (such as headaches, nausea, and insomnia).

The secret to finding this balance is to take the correct dose.

Generic Modafinil is sold in 200mg tablets and we recommend that you use a pill splitter to cut a tablet in half and take just 100mg for your initial dose. This greatly minimizes your chances of experiencing adverse side effects when you take the drug.

Once you become comfortable with Modafinil’s effects, you can increase your dose to 200mg.

This is the recommended dose and most people do well at this level.

To continue to experience cognitive benefits from Modafinil, it’s important to “cycle” it correctly. This simply means limiting your intake and then giving your body a break between doses. Cycling helps you avoid building a tolerance to this drug and having to take increasingly large doses.

Our recommended Modafinil cycle is to take this drug just once or twice per week at most. After two months, give yourself a complete break from Modafinil for two weeks.

We fully breakdown all the Modafinil dosage guidelines here.

Where to Buy Modafinil Online? | 2023 Guide

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How to Take Modafinil Properly

If you’re considering taking Modafinil for the first time, it’s important to take it correctly. This helps you get the most out of this powerful drug while avoiding most of its side effects.


Unless you want to pull an all-nighter, you can avoid sleeplessness and insomnia by taking Modafinil early in the morning. Its half-life is around 12+ hours, so if you take it before 10am its effects should have subsided by evening time.


You can avoid most of Modafinil’s dehydration-related side effects such as headaches, a dry mouth/throat, and nausea, by staying well hydrated during the day. Modafinil suppresses hunger and thirst, so it’s easy to forget to drink enough or skip meals. We suggest drinking at least two liters of water per day when you’re taking Modafinil.


As we discussed above, you don’t want to develop a tolerance for Modafinil or you’ll have to take increasingly higher doses to get the same cognitive benefits. To avoid this, we suggest limiting your intake to just one or two days per week. Every two months, give yourself a complete two-week break.

P.S: How to take Modafinil properly? Just click here.

So, what should you take on the ‘off’ days?

Glad you asked…

Modafinil Is What

Modafinil Alternatives?

As we explained earlier, you don’t want your body to develop a tolerance to Modafinil. You need to “cycle” it without something else and, on days when you aren’t taking Modafinil, you can take a Modafinil alternative…

Our top recommendation?

  • Mind Lab Pro

Mind Lab Pro is an all-natural dietary supplement that offers a “Modafinil-like” cognitive boost with zero side effects. It’s certified drug free, meaning that you can buy it without a prescription anywhere in the world.

We’ve found this nootropic to be highly consistent and reliable.

So, what does it contain?

Each capsule of Mind Lab Pro contains a blend of 11 natural nootropic ingredients. Each ingredient targets one of six different areas of the brain and works in synergy with the other ingredients to boost, enhance, protect, and rejuvenate your mind.

Some of Mind Lab Pro’s most potent ingredients include:

  • Lion’s Mane Mushroom: This is a natural nootropic that improves memory and executive functioning, helping you with time management and productivity [17].
  • Citicoline: Citicoline helps protect the brain and neuron firings while guarding against the onset of neurodegenerative disorders [18].
  • Bacopa monnieri: Bacopa complements Citicoline by providing improvements in working memory and episodic memory [19].
  • Vitamins B6, B9, and B12: B vitamins have been shown to optimize neurological functioning while preserving brain health [20].

Together, these natural ingredients provide cognitive effects that are similar to Modafinil, but without any of the side effects.

The catch?

You don’t get the 12+ hours of ‘laser-like’ focus that you get with Modafinil. Instead, you get a nice, solid 6-8+ hours of improved focus and concentration.

On the upside, Mind Lab Pro won’t give you any problems with sleeplessness or insomnia.

But there’s one area where Mind Lab Pro has Modafinil beat:


That’s likely because it contains L-Theanine, which induces a state of relaxed focus and helps open up your mind to new ideas.

Mind Lab Pro is our go-to Modafinil alternative for a reason.

Order from our recommended supplier Mind Lab Pro

Beginner’s Guide to Modafinil | Verdict

If you are curious about what Modafinil is…

Hopefully, this guide has answered all your questions!

As you’ve seen, Modafinil is a versatile prescription drug that has plenty of uses beyond treating narcolepsy.

Whether you want to get more work done, study more effectively, get better results, or earn more money:

Modafinil will definitely help get you where you want to go.

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  1. Mereu M, Bonci A, Newman AH, Tanda G. The neurobiology of modafinil as an enhancer of cognitive performance and a potential treatment for substance use disorders. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2013 Oct;229(3):415-34. doi: 10.1007/s00213-013-3232-4. Epub 2013 Aug 10. PMID: 23934211; PMCID: PMC3800148.
  2. Biederman J, Swanson JM, Wigal SB, Boellner SW, Earl CQ, Lopez FA; Modafinil ADHD Study Group. A comparison of once-daily and divided doses of modafinil in children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: a randomized, double-blind, and placebo-controlled study. J Clin Psychiatry. 2006 May;67(5):727-35. doi: 10.4088/jcp.v67n0506. PMID: 16841622.
  3. Dackis CA, Kampman KM, Lynch KG, Pettinati HM, O’Brien CP. A double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of modafinil for cocaine dependence. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2005 Jan;30(1):205-11. doi: 10.1038/sj.npp.1300600. PMID: 15525998.
  4. Chapotot F, Pigeau R, Canini F, Bourdon L, Buguet A. Distinctive effects of modafinil and d-amphetamine on the homeostatic and circadian modulation of the human waking EEG. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2003 Mar;166(2):127-38. doi: 10.1007/s00213-002-1315-8. Epub 2003 Jan 28. PMID: 12552359.
  5. Pigeau R, Naitoh P, Buguet A, McCann C, Baranski J, Taylor M, Thompson M, MacK I I. Modafinil, d-amphetamine and placebo during 64 hours of sustained mental work. I. Effects on mood, fatigue, cognitive performance and body temperature. J Sleep Res. 1995 Dec;4(4):212-228. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2869.1995.tb00172.x. PMID: 10607161.
  6. Baranski JV, Pigeau RA. Self-monitoring cognitive performance during sleep deprivation: effects of modafinil, d-amphetamine and placebo. J Sleep Res. 1997 Jun;6(2):84-91. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2869.1997.00032.x. PMID: 9377538.
  7. Lopes E, Pereira D, da Silva Behrens NS, de Almeida Fonseca H, Calvancanti PO, de Araújo Lima TF, Pradella-Hallinan M, Castro J, Tufik S, Coelho FM. Cataplexy as a side effect of modafinil in a patient without narcolepsy. Sleep Sci. 2014 Mar;7(1):47-9. doi: 10.1016/j.slsci.2014.07.015. Epub 2014 Aug 19. PMID: 26483900; PMCID: PMC4521649.
  8. Ishizuka T, Sakamoto Y, Sakurai T, Yamatodani A. Modafinil increases histamine release in the anterior hypothalamus of rats. Neurosci Lett. 2003;339(2):143-146. doi:10.1016/s0304-3940(03)00006-5
  9. Brown RE, Stevens DR, Haas HL. The physiology of brain histamine. Prog Neurobiol. 2001;63(6):637-672. doi:10.1016/s0301-0082(00)00039-3
  10. Zolkowska D, Jain R, Rothman RB, Partilla JS, Roth BL, Setola V, Prisinzano TE, Baumann MH. Evidence for the involvement of dopamine transporters in behavioral stimulant effects of modafinil. J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2009 May;329(2):738-46. doi: 10.1124/jpet.108.146142. Epub 2009 Feb 5. PMID: 19197004; PMCID: PMC2672878.
  11. Minzenberg MJ, Carter CS. Modafinil: a review of neurochemical actions and effects on cognition. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2008 Jun;33(7):1477-502. doi: 10.1038/sj.npp.1301534. Epub 2007 Aug 22. PMID: 17712350.
  12. Battleday RM, Brem AK. Modafinil for cognitive neuroenhancement in healthy non-sleep-deprived subjects: A systematic review. Eur Neuropsychopharmacol. 2015 Nov;25(11):1865-81. doi: 10.1016/j.euroneuro.2015.07.028. Epub 2015 Aug 20. PMID: 26381811.
  13. Mereu M, Chun LE, Prisinzano TE, Newman AH, Katz JL, Tanda G. The unique psychostimulant profile of (±)-modafinil: investigation of behavioral and neurochemical effects in mice. Eur J Neurosci. 2017 Jan;45(1):167-174. doi: 10.1111/ejn.13376. Epub 2016 Sep 11. PMID: 27545285; PMCID: PMC5604337.
  14. Volkow N, Li TK. The neuroscience of addiction. Nat Neurosci. 2005 Nov;8(11):1429-30. doi: 10.1038/nn1105-1429. PMID: 16251981.
  15. Krishnan, R., & Chary, K. V. (2015). A rare case modafinil dependence. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4319252/
  16. gc.ca. 2020. ALERTEC (Modafinil) And The Risk Of Congenital Anomalies – Recalls And Safety Alerts. [online] Available at: <https://healthycanadians.gc.ca/recall-alert-rappel-avis/hc-sc/2019/70201a-eng.php#:~:text=ALERTEC%20(modafinil%20100%20mg%20tablets,a%20circadian%20rhythm%20sleep%20disorder).> [Accessed 3 October 2020].
  17. Mori K, Inatomi S, Ouchi K, Azumi Y, Tuchida T. Improving effects of the mushroom Yamabushitake (Hericium erinaceus) on mild cognitive impairment: a double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. Phytother Res. 2009;23(3):367-372. doi:10.1002/ptr.2634
  18. Grieb P. Neuroprotective properties of citicoline: facts, doubts and unresolved issues. CNS Drugs. 2014;28(3):185-193. doi:10.1007/s40263-014-0144-8
  19. Kongkeaw C, Dilokthornsakul P, Thanarangsarit P, Limpeanchob N, Norman Scholfield C. Meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials on cognitive effects of Bacopa monnieri extract. J Ethnopharmacol. 2014;151(1):528-535. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2013.11.008
  20. Kennedy DO. B Vitamins and the Brain: Mechanisms, Dose and Efficacy–A Review. Nutrients. 2016 Jan 27;8(2):68. doi: 10.3390/nu8020068. PMID: 26828517; PMCID: PMC4772032.

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