Modafinil Benefits, Side Effects, Dosage And Stacking

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Modafinil chemical structure

What Is Modafinil?

In today’s achievement-conscious world, everybody seems to be in a rush for ways to gain a competitive edge by boosting their physical and mental performance. In the recent past, one of the common ways that high achievers have managed to stand out from the crowd is through the strategic use of a nootropic (or smart drug) called Modafinil.

Medically, the drug is employed in the treatment of various sleep disorders 1, including Narcolepsy, Daytime Sleepiness, Idiopathic Insomnia, and Obstructive Sleep Apnea among others. Modafinil acts as a selective inhibitor of dopamine re-uptake 2. The presence of Modafinil in the body, therefore, stimulates the production of histamine which results in heightened arousal in the user. The drug also contains the neurotransmitter Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid (GABA), which is known to promote the mood, relieve anxiety, and boost brain performance 3.

In the medical circles, Modafinil is considered a very effective in the treatment of a wide range of health conditions. Some of the off-label uses of the supplement include the treatment of sedation cases and fatigue conditions related to depression, cerebral palsy, myotonic dystrophy, and Parkinson Disease. The drug is also common in the military circles where it is used to keep soldiers awake beyond the levels of normal endurance.

Modafinil Dosage

Modafinil is a usually prescribed, and it’s advisable to follow the prescription exactly as indicated on its packaging. Nonetheless, the most recommended dosage is about 50-100mg of the supplement per day. The dose can go up depending on the user’s needs, and this entirely depends on the doctor’s assessment.

For people with narcolepsy, a dosage of 200mg (taken once a day) 4 is recommended. People who want to get rid of brain fog and enhance their mental alertness often split the dosage by taking 100mg upon waking and another 100mg in the afternoon for daylong alertness 5.

Dosages of over 200 mg once a day are recommended for people with circadian rhythm sleep disorders. The dosage is also common among students, entrepreneurs, and military personnel who want to achieve maximum cognitive enhancement and other mood improvement benefits.

While some users may tolerate higher dosages of Modafinil of 400mg in a day, there are no consistent results from studies that indicate a significant difference in the effects of 200mg dosages and those of higher dosages 6. The long-term effects of such high dosages are also unknown. Accordingly, they are often not recommended.

What Are The Top Benefits?

Modafinil provides a number of benefits to its users. Here are the most common benefits alongside scientific research on some of these benefits:

Effective against fatigue

In a study 7 to establish how Modafinil impacts mood in 12 healthy volunteers, the drug was found to boost mood, lower fatigue, and relieve the participants of excessive sleepiness. Essentially, the supplement promotes the unlocking of energy that’s needed for the muscles to be active. With energy cells unlocked, the muscles become activated to perform better. In a past post on Reddit, one poster confirmed that he “feels like an excellently-oiled machine 5 days a week” when he takes the supplement.

In other studies 8, Modafinil was reported to significantly lower fatigue and relieve sleepiness in partial responders and non-responders to SSRI treatments. The researchers, therefore, deduced that the supplement could also come in handy as an adjunct treatment for patients with depression, particularly those related to fatigue. A study published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry in 20012 9, also suggest that the supplement is effective in the treatment of fatigue-related Multiple Sclerosis.

Cognitive benefits

Modafinil is particularly great in enhancing cognition 10, both in fatigued and non-fatigued people. It has also proven to boost mental functioning in patients with health conditions that impair attention processing, such as ADHD, cognitive decline11, and drug dependence. A number of clinical trials 12 have also indicated that the supplement enhances mood, increases memory, boost execution function, and improves reaction times.

Enhances memory

Past studies 13 have indicated that Modafinil improves working memory. At 100, 200, and 250 mg dosage levels, the supplement indicated better results in a wide range of memory-related task such as digit span, delayed verbal recognition14, and visual pattern recognition.

Essentially, Modafinil stimulates the release of cAMP (cyclic adenosine monophosphate), which is known to promote memory and learning capabilities 15. Normally, the molecule is responsible for rescuing of short-term memories.

Improves mood

The intake of Modafinil might help you improve your emotions. A 2011 study published in Biological Psychiatry 16 indicated that the supplement improves emotional processing activities such as facial expressions recognition. In another study 17, healthy adults who were given 400mg of Modafinil indicated an increase in their moods as well as increased emotions and thinking.

Increases brain alertness and focus

Modafinil has also been shown to stimulate alertness and boost the functioning of the brain’s frontal lobe. It is also assumed that GABA receptors in Modafinil relieve anxiety and promote mental alertness. A 2010 study published in Neuropsychopharmacology Journal 18 indicated the supplement reduces reactivity to frightening stimuli in the brain’s amygdala, the section that’s involved with anxiety.

Decreases reaction time and increases athletic performance

Modafinil can boost reaction time 19 in healthy individuals as well as their cognitively-impaired counterparts. It can also boost performance on cognitively demanding activities 20. Because cognitive functioning and reaction time are key factors in athletic performance, doping with the supplement can offer an advantage in virtually all sports, and a number of cases have been reported in sprinting.

What Are The Potential Side Effects?

When used as prescribed, Modafinil is considered to be effective and safe. There are no major dangerous side effects that have been reported except for some mild symptoms that have been highlighted through normal use, including:

  • A headache
  • Back pain
  • Stuffy nose
  • somnolence
  • Diarrhea
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Nervousness
  • Insomnia
  • Heartburn
  • Decrease in appetite
  • Dry mouth
  • Belching
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea

Gastrointestinal problems

A study 21 showed that the supplement can slightly interfere with your metabolism, resulting in diarrhea and other gastrointestinal issues.

Other effects

Dizziness, skin rashes, anxiety, agitation, and tachycardia have also been reported in other studies22

According to the FDA, common symptoms of overdose may include impaired movements, confusion, tremor, sleep disturbance, irritability, palpitation, mild heart complications, and aggressiveness.

The FDA has even published some case of Modafinil-caused Stevens-Johnson Syndrome (SJS), a potentially life-threatening skin allergy.

Supplementing Your Diet With Modafinil

Modafinil can be taken with or without a meal. If you opt to take it with a meal, you should ask your doctor for advice so as not to take the drug with foods that interact with it. There are also certain medications that interact with supplement, altering how it works or worsening some of its side effects. Accordingly, before taking the supplement, it is advisable to let your doctor know your list of medications so that you can be sure that you won’t develop any complications.

Whether you opt to take the supplement alone or with a meal, the best time is early in the morning —hours before you begin your daily routines—considering that it provides 10 to 12 hours of wakefulness. You need to also remember that when it comes to using Modafinil effectively, less can sometimes be more. It is, therefore, recommended to take minimum doses to minimize tolerance and any potential side effects.

Lastly, some users have reported feelings of anxiety when using the supplement. Probably, some of these users stack with wrong supplements that counteract the side effects of the drug. If you find yourself in such situations, you are advised to take 500mg of Phenibut to eliminate the effect. As will be discussed below, stacking the supplement can also help you achieve the high cognitive abilities that you desire.


Modafinil is very great and very effective at what it does. However, once in awhile even the best of the best need a helping hand. Without much ado, the drug stacks well with a number of nootropics, including but not limited to:


The drug can boost the euphoric effects of Modafinil. It advisable to keep the Noopept dosages low when stacking—about 10-20 milligrams at a time.


This is one of the original nootropics synthesized in the 1950s. Stacking Modafinil with Piracetam will make Modafinil’s effects smoother and lower its stimulant tolerance allowing it to last longer.


Gives the effects of Modafinil an extra boost.


A great brain supplement that lowers anxiety and stress levels. This makes it great for stacking with Modafinil.


L-Theanine can help counter the jittering effects of Modafinil 23.

Modafinil Alternatives

The following groups of substances offer some benefits related to Modafinil, and can act as alternatives to the supplement:


These drugs are known to enhance focus 24 and reduce fatigue, traits also seen in Modafinil but they are also much riskier to take.

In the past, amphetamine was used by the military personnel with sleep deprivation issues.

Microdoses of nicotine

Nicotine offers enhanced mood, focus, and motivation—the same effects that you get when using Modafinil. As a smart drug, nicotine is, therefore, a potent alternative to Modafinil 25. The only concern is that its adverse reactions are more extreme than Modafinil.

Bacopa Monnieri

This is a plant ingredient that enhances attention 26, decision making, and mood. The drug is also important in stress management and memory boost.


This is a major ingredient in green and black tea. Just like Modafinil, the drug promotes relaxation, arousal, and mental alertness.


Forskolin is a memory booster. The drug is effective in enhancing your learning potential and focus. Like Modafinil, it acts by stimulating cAMP27, a molecule that boosts your memory.

Controversy Surrounding Modafinil

One of the top concerns about Modafinil is whether it actually makes people think better. While a number of studies in people and rats 28 have indicated that the supplement may boost memory and other aspects of cognition, other studies have not found such links. In a study published in PLOS ONE 29, it was found that instead of boosting cognition, the supplement seemed to actually slow the participants down. In the study, the researcher gathered 64 volunteers and had half of them take the supplement, while the rest took a placebo pill. The participants were then exposed to reading and sentence completion exam. While both groups completed the tests successfully and equally well, the group that had consumed Modafinil took longer to respond to the questions. The researcher, therefore, deduced that the drug might slow people’s cognitive abilities instead of boosting them. Another intriguing study 30 suggested that Modafinil has no cognition-boosting benefits to people whose IQ are already average.

According to Dr. Larissa Mooney, a UCLA Associate Professor of Psychiatry, although such findings are preliminary, they make sense considering that the drug is designed to promote wakefulness. She states that while people might feel more alert after taking the drug, it doesn’t imply that they are performing better.

Final Thoughts

As Modafinil continue to be known for its unmatched mood and memory enhancing benefits as well as its waking effects, its adoption or use has surged as it is now widely medicated to treat memory loss due to ADHD, jet lag, dementia, and fatigue caused by illnesses or extended work hours. Considering the many benefits that are associated with the supplement, most of which far outweigh potential concerns, I would recommend the supplement for people who are sleep-deprived as well as those who want to achieve better cognitive functions and improved mood.

However, it’s important to consider the dosage limits and contraindications. This will help you use the supplement better so as to achieve reliable cognitive results. Even though there are lower risks attached to the intake of Modafinil, it’s shrewd to be conscious. If you are on some medication, for instance, it is vital to keep your doctor informed of your decision to want to start using Modafinil. The physician will help you decide on effective dosage levels of the supplement.

Scientific & Reference Citations