By Jonathan Roseland  Connect    

A next level smart drug, often compared closely to NZT-48 from Limitless.

Modafinil imbues an unfair cognitive advantage to those lifehackers not afraid to dable with pharmaceuticals, from night shift working emergency room doctors to programmers and helicopter pilots.

With almost 200 human clinical studies in the past 10 years, Modafinil is one of the most proven and safe pharmaceutical smart drugs on the market. Officially a wakefulness promoting drug, Modafinil is FDA approved for treating narcolepsy and shift work sleep disorder, and in many countries a prescription is required. Launched in the US as Provigil in 1998 it's a relatively younger smart smart drug.

New York Magazine called it Wall Street's New Drug of Choice, to quote the high performance subject of the article:

"I sensed it was blood actually moving to the optic nerve. Your eyes start to feel very sort of engorged, and your awareness comes to the front of your face, which is kind of a freaky sensation. I would describe it as being very much like Adderall, but without the speediness."

Military Applications

Military ApplicationsA 2012 study of 18 helicopter pilots by the Warfighter Health Division of U.S. Army Aeromedical Research Laboratory found that Modafinil was a veritable solution for maintaining "acceptable levels of mood and performance during sleep deprivation" in periods of sustained wakefulness up to 40 hours. In a 2004 study of 10 F-117 pilots "Modafinil attenuated flight performance" for up to 37 hours of continuous wakefulness. The French air force includes them in the ejection seat survival packages of fighter jets.


WakefulnessModafinil is a hard core sleep hack, it increases the quality of sleep while decreasing quantity. To quote a 2014 randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study done by the Department of Neurology in Marburg, Germany

"The sleep diaries showed increases in feeling refreshed in the morning; the diurnal diaries showed significant improvement of performance and of exhaustion. Modafinil is an effective and safe medication in the treatment of IH." 

Adrafinil vs Modafinil

Adrafinil vs ModafinilAdrafinil is the none prescription version of Modafinil and a search for it on Pubmed yields +25 results. Adrafinil is technically a prodrug of Modafinil, meaning that it converts or metabolizes into Modafinil in the liver. The biggest difference between the two is that Adrafinil is, currently, unregulated in the United States. Although Modafinil can be acquired via numerous sources online, varying from shady silk road wannabes to highly credible supplement retailers, there's still a legality issue for US citizens. For those who wish to stay on the right side of the law without bothering a doctor for prescription, Adrafinil is the clear choice.

Armodafinil vs Modafinil

Armodafinil vs ModafinilModafinil is comprised of an R-isomer and an S-isomer whereas Armodafinil is just the R-isomer. To qoute a 2009 study comparing the two:

"Despite similar half-lives, plasma concentrations following armodafinil administration are higher late in the day than those following modafinil administration on a milligram-to-milligram basis."

This would suggest that Armodafinil is the stronger version, at least when it comes to wakefulness.

Modafinil vs Adderral vs Ritalin

Modafinil vs Adderral vs RitalinSince they are focus promoting pharmaceuticals a lot of comparisons get made between the Modafinil and popular ADHD medication. There's a common mis-perception that Modafinil utilizes a similar mechanism of action to the popular ADHD drugs, a French study of 33 humans found distinct difference between Modafinil and the amphetamine powered stimulants:

"These findings demonstrate that the alertness-promoting effects of modafinil and d-amphetamine involve distinct EEG activities and do not reside on the same vigilance regulatory processes."

One of the biggest difference in the lack of twitchiness or buzz, after years of taking ADHD medications I'm intimately familiar with the edgy, 'cracked out' feeling they delivery, indeed I have grown to enjoy it. Modafinil simply delivers a clear head and loads of motivation; you won't feel like dancing and your hand's won't shake.
One thing I appreciate about Modafinil is that I get hungry like normal and will be motivated to eat. One of the things that's troubled me about ADHD medication and other Nootropics I've tried is that you loose your appetite on them and I will find myself in a deprived state after skipping multiple meals.

Mechanism of Action

Mechanism of ActionSince we can't examine a live human brain dosed on Modafinil, like with all smart drugs the mechanism of action is matter of intelligent estimation as opposed to certainty. It prevents the reuptake of Dopamine in the brain which causes high concentrations of the neurotransmitter.

2007 paper Mechanisms of modafinil: A review of current research, stated in it's conclusion:

"It is likely that modafinil both enhances cellular metabolism and reduces free-radicals in neurons. Reduction in brain oxidation or an increase in cortical creatine could promote vigilance"

It takes about 45-60 minutes to take effect. For that reason when I'm having a 'Modafinil Day' I usually wash down the drug with a cup of coffee or tea. It has a half life of 13-15 hours, so it will transform the course of your whole day.

Banned Sports Doping Agents

To quote a 2009 study done in New Delhi by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports:

"Adrafinil and modafinil have received wide publicity and have become controversial in the sporting world when several athletes were discovered allegedly using these drugs as doping agents."

Personal Anecdote: Hallucinating on Modafinil

HallucinatingThis is a quintessential productivity drug and really does turn you into a singularly focused zombie, once while on Modafinil I worked at +12 hour day late into the night, even totally exhausted I was motivated to keep going on a project. I began to hallucinate, thinking that people where walking into my office, I took this as a sign to shut down my computer finally. On the short walk to where I lived, I kept thinking that I was seeing people in my peripheral vision and hearing footsteps following me. Hallucinations are not a side effect reporteded anywhere of this smart drug, but I doubt I'm the first person to work myself into such a state of exhaustion while on it.

On Mood and Depression

On Mood and DepressionDepression can kind of be like a check engine light on a car, there's a lot of possible causes and more often than not it's due to a combination of slight imbalances in lifestyle, diet, genetics and internal chemistry.

To quote a 2007 Vanderbilt University randomized, double-blind, study of 12 healthy human subjects:

"Mood was assessed daily using both the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule and a general mood scale... These results suggest that modafinil may have general mood-elevating effects accompanied by increased negative affect (anxiety). The findings may have implications for clinical practice, in particular for the adjunctive use of modafinil in treatment-resistant depression."

Socializing on Modafinil

Socializing on ModafinilIn my experience, towards the beginning of the bell curve of Modafinil's cognitive enhancing effects, you'll feel more social and talkative. However, you'll grow very critical and social interactions will seem 'too slow'. I don't take Modafinil during the day if I have a date, party or other social engagement in the evenings.

For Addicts

for addictsA 2011 University of California study demonstrated that Modafinil repaired damage that methamphetamine addicts had done to their learning ability with prolonged drug usage:

"The findings suggest that modafinil improves learning in MA-dependent participants, possibly by enhancing neural function in regions important for learning and cognitive control."

A 2005 double blind, placebo controlled study of 62 cocaine addicts showed the drug to have beneficial effects:

"This study provides preliminary evidence... that modafinil improves clinical outcome when combined with psychosocial treatment for cocaine dependence." 

Modafinil may be something of a self control lifehack, as many of the studies came to to the conclusion that it decreased impulsiveness.


Modafinil and Adrafinil both put some minimal strain on the heart to keep up with the high performance cognitive state of the brain. It's not a great idea for those with heart conditions to take them with other agents that increase blood pressure and heart rate. For this reason I don't take them with other Nootropics, with the exception of a cup of coffee or tea.

Tolerance & Addiction Risk

In my experience it is something you build up a tolerance too, I wouldn't recommend taking it more than a 2-3 times a week. Many stimulants that under perform or match the enhancing effects these drugs are highly addictive, in comparison the addiction risk of Modafinil and Adrafinil is remarkably low, however there's always a risk with anything that stimulates Dopamine.



According to Powdercity Modafinil has a synergistic effect with nicotine

Here’s what one researcher has to say about nicotine:
“To my knowledge, nicotine is the most reliable cognitive enhancer that we currently have, bizarrely,” said Jennifer Rusted, professor of experimental psychology at Sussex University in Britain when we spoke. “The cognitive-enhancing effects of nicotine in a normal population are more robust than you get with any other agent. With Provigil, for instance, the evidence for cognitive benefits is nowhere near as strong as it is for nicotine.”

Why does nicotine work so well? It’s a potent nicotinic acetylcholine receptor agonist. Nicotinic acetylcholine activation suppresses GABAergic inputs to dopaminergic neurons, which elicits dopamine release in the ventral tegmental area (VTA). Nicotine decreases the risk of parkinson’s disease, markedly improves working memory, and is underutilized due to its association with tobacco smoking.

If you want to try stacking nicotine with modafinil, start with the lowest possible doses, e.g., 1mg nicotine plus 50mg modafinil. Note that nicotine has a very narrow therapeutic range. Slapping fifteen nicotine patches on your back is a bizarrely popular suicide method precisely because it’s so lethal in overdose. As far as nootropics go, nicotine is probably the most dangerous if you’re not careful.

Nootropic Ingredients

Recommended Daily

It's potent stuff, 100 Milligrams will put most people into cognitively enhanced territory for 4-6 hours. 200 Milligrams is the standard dosage experienced Biohackers and smart drug junkies take, but for many it's too much, a friend of mine told reported that he couldn't sleep for two whole days after taking this dosage. On the extreme end some self experimenters report taking up to 400 Milligrams.
Adrafinil Recommended Dosage: 150 to 300 Milligrams daily; as a prodrug it's less bioavaliable.



Review of Vigia: The Modafinil of South America
Adrafinil vs Modafinil (Review)
How to get Modafinil in the UK
Modafinil: The Military Grade Smart Drug and Why it Made Me Hallucinate...
What we learned about Modafinil in 2017

Modafinil Sources

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