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Get to Know About the Fascinating and Smart Drug Modafinil

Modafinil is hyped to be a smart drug with a high success rate. You may be wondering, ‘What is Modafinil?’ The original name of Modafinil was ‘Provigil’. In 1970, it was launched in France and was highly successful in obstructing sleep apnea, narcolepsy (excessive daytime sleepiness) and SWSD [shift work sleep disorder]. It was released across the world under different brand names. Soon, it was identified that Modafinil also helped in enhancing memory and brain functions in elderly subjects that were struggling with sleep deprivation. 

What is Modafinil?

Modafinil is a drug that promotes wakefulness and is used to help people that are struggling with daytime sleepiness and are unable to function properly at work. The FDA has approved it for medical conditions like obstructive sleep apnea and sleep disorders. 

How Modafinil works is still not clearly defined even after it has been researched for a variety of purposes like attention-deficit disorder, depression, age-related memory decline, Alzheimer’s disease, myotonic dystrophy, idiopathic hypersomnia, post-anesthesia grogginess, jet-lag treatment, etc. In military soldiers, the drug was demonstrated to decrease fatigue and improve alertness. People have started that using it for off-label purposes like enhanced memory, increase in concentration, long-lasting alertness, and a boosted mood. 

How does Modafinil work?

Scientists have revealed some important properties of why Modafinil works in this way. 

‘Modafinil acts at the hypothalamic level and possibly stimulates the hypocretin-producing neurons and the tuberomammillary nucleus. It hinders the GABA release in the posterior hypothalamus and frontal cortex. So, it activates the cerebral region responsible for wakefulness and impedes the sleep-promoting nuclei.’

No wonder pilots, students, surgeons, CEOs, and entrepreneurs have started to use Modafinil. It helps them to stay energetic, focused and alert for a long-time through difficult and complex tasks. 

Why is Modafinil growing in popularity?

It is helping –

  • People gain that extra boost and become more productive within their workplace during the day.
  • Soldiers during physically exhausting or overnight military operations.
  • Frequent flyers to overcome consistent jet lag symptoms.
  • Employees working in shifts.
  • Students to stay awake overnight for exam preparation or completing projects.
  • Athletes training round the clock.

Modafinil is categorized under the Schedule IV controlled substance, so a prescription is necessary to buy it. It does not show strong negative nootropic effects, but can cause side effects.

Side effects of Modafinil

  • Headache
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Dry throat or mouth
  • Nausea 
  • Diarrhea

Modafinil increases histamine levels, which boosts focus, but hinders normal sleep schedule causing insomnia. It is an appetite suppressant, so triggers dry mouth, headaches and nausea. Dopamine levels get elevated, which improves memory, mood, and time management. It is non-addictive, but vulnerable people can abuse it leading to addiction. 

Overall Modafinil is safe, but avoid taking it if you are struggling with psychological issues, using prescription drugs or steroidal birth control contraceptives. Even breastfeeding and pregnant women need to avoid the drug. 

How long does a Modafinil cognitive-enhancing effect last?

Modafinil resides in your body for several days, but its effect doesn’t last that long. Its long-lasting cognitive improvement is divided into two parts –

  • R-enantiomer that lasts for 15 hours.
  • S-enantiomer that endures for 4 hours.

Generally, Modafinil’s effects take place within 1 to 2 hours after it is consumed and will last for more than 12 hours. For example, shift workers can use the drug approximately one hour before their shift starts. Some timing recommendations are – 

  • Never take Modafinil after 1-pm unless you intend to keep awake all night.
  • Take the dose as early as possible in the morning.
  • If you desire to sleep by 11 pm take Modafinil drug before 10 am.

If you are using Modafinil without a prescription, your aim must be to gain an increase from its cognitive benefits, while feeling secure from its reduced side effects. You will need to find the correct dose. The recommended dose is 200mg once or twice weekly. The majority of users find this level tolerable. It is also crucial to cycle with this drug correctly. Cycling will help to avoid the buildup of tolerance towards Modafinil and there will be no need to increase the dosage level. A two-month cycle and complete break for two months are a good alternative. 

What is the half-life of Modafinil? How long does it reside in your system?

Let’s get to know the half-life of Modafinil to understand how long it will reside in your system. The half-life of Modafinil differs but a benchmark you can follow is –

The half-life of the standard Modafinil dosage, which is in the 100 – 200mg per week range, is 10 – 15 hours. For some people, the drug is metabolized in their liver. The inactive metabolites get excreted in their urine. Several factors influence the presence of Modafinil level in your system. Poor kidney functioning, liver failure, and genetic predispositions can slow drug metabolism and increase its duration effect. 

According to different studies, the duration of Modafinil lasting in your system differs. Depending on the user’s metabolism the therapeutic duration can be shorter or longer. 

  • One study related to narcolepsy reports Modafinil’s half-life to be 9 to 14 hours, before tapering.
  • An early study on healthy male volunteers revealed that the half-life of the drug was 15 hours.
  • Many test subjects reported that the ‘Modafinil High’ [means improved alertness and focus], which lasts for approximately 10 – 12 hours before it starts to decline. 

It is identified that Modafinil’s half-life lasts for 12 – 15 hours, so users can enjoy the benefits supported by scientific evidence and testimonials from users. However, Modafinil’s half-life ensures positive benefits like –

  • Long-lasting focus even on tasks that are complicated and boring. The tasks suddenly become engaging and enjoyable.
  • Work productively past midnight with high alertness, bypassing the need for their normal sleep.
  • Eliminates the anxiety and aggressive feel, as well as allows staying focused without any interruption.

Unfortunately, Modafinil’s half-cycle can even work against you in case of improper use. Remember, Modafinil will and can hinder your normal sleep cycle. It is not a replacement to avoid sleep. Taking this stimulant means forcing your body to stay awake, disrupts its control of the sleep amount and also the quality. Users will never feel properly refreshed. 

Another drawback is to have a plan before consuming the Modafinil tablet. Start working instantly and retain your focus, because when the smart drug kicks in, you can start on the task at hand and complete it. It can also work against you, as if you are watching videos when Modafinil kicks in, then the chances are, that you will spend hours doing that unless you force yourself to concentrate on the important project you need to complete. 

Can you by-pass the Modafinil drug test?

Drug testing is a standard procedure followed in the professional sports sector to ensure competitors are playing fairly without using the performance-enhancer drug. The drug test is also mandatory in several corporations and government agencies.

Types of drug testing

  • Reagent Drug Testing
  • Immuno-Assay Drug Testing
  • Gas Chromatography Drug Testing
  • Mass Spectronomy Drug Testing
  • 4, 5, 10, &12 Panel Drug Tests

Drug tests are often conducted for Anabolic steroids, Opioids, Marijuana, Cocaine, Alcohol, PCP, Benzodiazepines and Amphetamines. Everybody does not look for Modafinil in the drug tests. Usually, companies that order drug tests include 5 to 14 different substances. So, it is highly unlikely to impossible that Modafinil will get included in the list. The smart drug is not assumed to be an issue for the employees but helps them to get more productivity and performance. 

Alternatively, the athlete commission may test for Modafinil. High drug testing methods like Immuno-Assay Drug Testing, Gas Chromatography Drug Testing, and Mass Spectronomy Drug Testing, can identify the presence of Modafinil. They can trigger a sufficient red flag to permit further analysis. 

Modafinil is technically not a stimulant. It is classified under a eugeroic compound, but shares the effects of stimulants and also gets treated like them. It is explicitly under a banned or prohibited substance list on the World Anti-doping Agency and the US Anti-doping agency. 

You can by-pass the drug test if there is no mention of Modafinil in the drug test list. For a guaranteed negative drug test, stop taking Modafinil one week or a minimum of 80 hours before the scheduled day of the test. As the drug has an exclusive chemical structure than the other stimulants, it is unlikely for the drug test to reveal a false-positive result. 

If you are tested positive for Modafinil, you need to have a prescription. For example, if you suffer from narcolepsy then the case will be perceived differently, than someone who is using it for study assistance. 

Modafinil drug tests are costly, so 99% of employers hardly add it to their list but professional athletes need to stay away from it if they plan to use it off-label. 


Modafinil promotes wakefulness and is prescribed to treat hypersomnia, narcolepsy, shift work sleep issues and obstructive sleep apnea. It is a cognitive enhancer, which stimulates the brain region empowering it to focus and stay alert.

Employees use cheap screening methods but Modafinil detection needs detailed tests. Corporates don’t consider Modafinil to be an issue, so currently, employees may not feel concerned about you using it. However, professional athletes need to completely avoid Modafinil, because sports organizations use high-tech and costly screening methods. Whether Modafinil’s use is an issue or not, this will depend on the organization’s specific drug use policies. 


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