Modafinil, A Wakefulness Promoting Agent for Cognitive Functions


Modafinil is an analeptic type of drug usually prescribed for the treatment and management of narcolepsy, excessive daytime sleepiness, hypersomnia, and sleep apnea. It is also used to manage other conditions associated with sleep deprivation like shift work sleep disorder and fatigue. Modafinil is included in a particular category of pharmaceuticals called wakefulness promoting agents. Its primary effect is improving mental and cognitive functions in sleep deprived individuals and in boosting brain energy allowing them to be more active and productive.

Although Modafinil encourages wakefulness like ampethamines and xanthenes, it doesn’t have the same edgy and jittery feeling that is usually associated with these types of wakefulness promoting agents. Modafinil also doesn’t have the side effects that come with the use of ampethamines and xanthenes like anxiety, headaches, and palpitations.

Modafinil was developed by a Dr. Michel Jouvet, a researcher with an extensive background in neurosciences. This drug is sold under the brand name Provigil in the US and it is considered as a controlled substance. Apart from the uses for the drug that is already mentioned, Modafinil is also being used, observed, or tested for its potential as a treatment for other medical conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), depersonalization disorder, and post-chemotherapy cognitive impairment.

Being an effective and a welcome alternative to ampethamines, Modafinil has been used by military and law enforcement agencies for troops who face long missions where sleep deprivation is inevitable. American airforce pilots have also been reported to use Modafinil for continuous long flight missions. Modafinil also has the ability to improve physical performance to a certain level that it was included in the list of banned substance by the World Anti-doping Agency in 2004.

When it comes to cognitive enhancement, Modafinil has shown the ability to increase alertness and mental energy. Studies have also suggested that it can improve cognitive processes involving working memory, pattern recognition, and digit manipulation. This is perhaps the same reason why Modafinil is known to have widespread use among students in college as a study aid. Modafinil has also shown promise as a means of helping recovering cocaine addicts. It has already proven to have the ability to restore the learning abilities of former methamphetamine abusers.

The effect of wakefulness provided by Modafinil is smooth and clean, unlike the nervy and edgy stimulation that is usually experienced from taking amphetamines and caffeine. Modafinil also has the ability to effectively counteract fatigue that is associated with sleep deprivation, something that other stimulants are incapable of doing. The half-life of Modafinil is around 13 to 15 hours, and steady state concentrations in serum are reached 48 hours after ingesting.

ModafinilWhile Modafinil may be a good wakefulness promoting agent, it is also unfortunately linked with a long list of side effects. In 2007, the US FDA ordered the Cephalon company, creators of the brand Provigil to include the potentially fatal side effects that may result from Modafinil use in bold print. These serious side-effects include DRESS syndrome, toxic epidermal necrolysis, and Steven-Johnson Syndrome. The long list of other side effects from using Modafinil includes drowsiness, anxiety, dizziness, headaches, upset stomach, nausea, back pain, and irregular sleeping patterns.


  1. It is an excellent wakefulness promoting agent.
  2. It can improve the cognitive processes of sleep deprived individuals.
  3. It is a good study aid.
  4. It has a smooth stim effect.


  1. It is only available in most countries as a prescription drug.
  2. It is a controlled substance.
  3. It has some serious side effects.
  4. It has a high abuse potential.

The standard doses for taking Modafinil is between 100 to 200mg to be taken when you are already in a sleep deprived state if the individual wants to stay awake longer. It can also be taken in the morning to regulate sleep patterns. Modafinil can cause serious health issues so it will be best to consult your doctor before taking it for whatever reason.

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