Know the basics
What is modafinil used for?
Modafinil reduces extreme sleepiness due to narcolepsy and other sleep disorders, such as periods of stopped breathing during sleep (obstructive sleep apnea). It is also used to help you stay awake during work hours if you have a work schedule that keeps you from having a normal sleep routine (shift work sleep disorder).
This medication does not cure these sleep disorders and may not get rid of all your sleepiness. Modafinil does not take the place of getting enough sleep. It should not be used to treat tiredness or hold off sleep in people who do not have a sleep disorder.
It is not known how modafinil works to keep you awake. It is thought to work by affecting certain substances in the brain that control the sleep/wake cycle.
How should I take modafinil?
For narcolepsy, take this medication by mouth with or without food as directed by your doctor, usually once daily in the morning. Or, if your doctor directs you to, the total daily dose of modafinil may be divided into a morning dose and a noon dose.
For obstructive sleep apnea, take this medication by mouth with or without food as directed by your doctor, usually once daily in the morning. Continue your other treatment (such as the CPAP machine, mouth device) unless your doctor tells you to stop.
If you are using modafinil for shift work sleep disorder, take it by mouth with or without food as directed by your doctor, usually once a day 1 hour before you start your work shift.
The dosage is based on your medical condition and response to treatment. Take this medication regularly to get the most benefit from it.
Along with its benefits, this medication may rarely cause abnormal drug-seeking behavior (addiction). This risk may be increased if you have abused alcohol or drugs in the past. Take this medication exactly as prescribed to lessen the risk of addiction.
Tell your doctor if your condition does not improve or if it worsens.
How do I store modafinil?
Modafinil is best stored at room temperature away from direct light and moisture. To prevent drug damage, you should not store modafinil in the bathroom or the freezer. There may be different brands of modafinil that may have different storage needs. It is important to always check the product package for instructions on storage, or ask your pharmacist. For safety, you should keep all medicines away from children and pets.
You should not flush modafinil down the toilet or pour them into a drain unless instructed to do so. It is important to properly discard this product when it is expired or no longer needed. Consult your pharmacist for more details about how to safely discard your product.
Know the precautions & warnings
What should I know before using modafinil?
Before taking modafinil,
- tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to modafinil, armodafinil (Nuvigil), or any other medications.
- tell your doctor and pharmacist what prescription and nonprescription medications, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking. Be sure to mention any of the following: anticoagulants (‘blood thinners’) such as warfarin (Coumadin); certain antidepressants such as amitriptyline, amoxapine, clomipramine (Anafranil), desipramine (Norpramin), doxepin (Sinequan), imipramine (Tofranil), nortriptyline (Aventyl, Pamelor), protriptyline (Vivactil), and trimipramine (Surmontil); certain antifungals such as itraconazole (Sporanox) and ketoconazole (Nizoral); cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune); diazepam (Valium); certain medications for seizures such as carbamazepine (Tegretol), phenobarbital, and phenytoin (Dilantin); monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors, including isocarboxazid (Marplan), phenelzine (Nardil), selegiline (Eldepryl, Emsam, Zelapar), and tranylcypromine (Parnate); propranolol (Inderal); selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as citalopram (Celexa), escitalopram (Lexapro), fluoxetine (Prozac, Sarafem), fluvoxamine (Luvox), paroxetine (Paxil), and sertraline (Zoloft); rifampin (Rifadin, Rimactane); and triazolam (Halcion). Many other medications may also interact with modafinil, so be sure to tell your doctor about all the medications you are taking, even those that do not appear on this list. Your doctor may need to change the doses of your medications or monitor you carefully for side effects.
- tell your doctor if you drink or have ever drunk large amounts of alcohol, use or have ever used street drugs, or have overused prescription medications, especially stimulants. Also tell your doctor if you have ever had chest pain, an irregular heartbeat, or other heart problems after taking a stimulant, and if you have or have ever had high blood pressure; a heart attack; chest pain; a mental illness such as depression, mania (frenzied, abnormally excited mood), or psychosis (difficulty thinking clearly, communicating, understanding reality, and behaving appropriately); or heart, liver, or kidney disease.
- you should know that modafinil may decrease the effectiveness of hormonal contraceptives (birth control pills, patches, rings, implants, injections, and intrauterine devices). Use another form of birth control while taking modafinil and for 1 month after you stop taking it. Talk to your doctor about types of birth control that will work for you during and after your treatment with modafinil.
- tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding. If you become pregnant while taking modafinil, call your doctor.
- if you are having surgery, including dental surgery, tell the doctor or dentist that you are taking modafinil.
- you should know that modafinil may affect your judgment or thinking and may not completely relieve the sleepiness caused by your disorder. Do not drive a car or operate machinery until you know how this medication affects you. If you avoided driving and other dangerous activities because of your sleep disorder, do not start performing these activities again without talking to your doctor even if you feel more alert.
- be aware that you should avoid drinking alcohol while taking modafinil.
Is it safe to take modafinil during pregnancy or breast-feeding?
There isn’t enough information about the safety of using this medication during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Please always consult with your doctor to weigh the potential benefits and risks before taking this medication.
Know the side effects
What are the side effects of modafinil?
Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
Stop using modafinil and call your doctor at once if you have any of these serious side effects:
- fever, sore throat, headache, and vomiting with a severe blistering, peeling, and red skin rash;
- bruising, severe tingling, numbness, pain, muscle weakness;
- easy bruising or bleeding;
- white patches or sores inside your mouth or on your lips;
- hallucinations, unusual thoughts or behavior;
- depression, anxiety, aggression; or
- chest pain, uneven heart beats.
Less serious side effects may include:
- headache, dizziness;
- feeling nervous or agitated;
- nausea, diarrhea;
- trouble sleeping (insomnia);
- dry mouth.
Not everyone experiences these side effects. There may be some side effects not listed above. If you have any concerns about a side-effect, please consult your doctor or pharmacist.
Know the interactions
What drugs may interact with modafinil?
Modafinil may interact with other drugs that you are currently taking, which can change how your drug works or increase your risk for serious side effects. To avoid any potential drug interactions, you should keep a list of all the drugs you are using (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs and herbal products) and share it with your doctor and pharmacist. For your safety, do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any drugs without your doctor’s approval.
- cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune, Gengraf);
- propranolol (Inderal);
- rifampin (Rifadin, Rimactane, Rifater);
- a sedative such as diazepam (Valium), midazolam (Versed), or triazolam (Halcion);
- antifungal medications such as itraconazole (Sporanox) or ketoconazole (Nizoral);
- seizure medication such as carbamazepine (Carbatrol, Tegretol), phenytoin (Dilantin), or phenobarbital (Luminal, Solfoton);
- antidepressants such as amitriptyline (Elavil, Etrafon), doxepin (Sinequan), imipramine (Janimine, Tofranil), nortriptyline (Pamelor), and others; or
- an MAO inhibitor such as isocarboxazid (Marplan), phenelzine (Nardil), rasagiline (Azilect), selegiline (Eldepryl, Emsam), or tranylcypromine (Parnate).
Does food or alcohol interact with modafinil?
Modafinil may interact with food or alcohol by altering the way the drug works or increase the risk for serious side effects. Please discuss with your doctor or pharmacist any potential food or alcohol interactions before using this drug.
What health conditions may interact with modafinil?
Modafinil may interact with your health condition. This interaction may worsen your health condition or alter the way the drug works. It is important to always let your doctor and pharmacist know all the health conditions you currently have, especially:
- Alcohol abuse, history of or
- Drug abuse or dependence, history of—Dependence may be more likely to develop.
- Angina (severe chest pain), unstable or
- Heart attack, recent or
- Heart disease—Use with caution. It is not known how modafinil will affect these conditions.
- Depression, history of or
- Hypertension (high blood pressure) or
- Mania, history of or
- Psychosis (mental illness), history of—Use with caution. May make these conditions worse.
- Left ventricular hypertrophy (heart disease), history of or
- Mitral valve prolapse (heart disease) after receiving CNS stimulants—Use is not recommended in patients with these conditions.
- Liver disease, severe—Use with caution. You may require a dose adjustment. Talk with your doctor if you have concerns about this.
Understand the dosage
The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. You should ALWAYS consult with your doctor or pharmacist before using this medication.
What is the dose of modafinil for an adult?
Usual Adult Dose for Narcolepsy
200 mg orally daily in the morning
Usual Adult Dose for Obstructive Sleep Apnea/Hypopnea Syndrome
200 mg orally daily in the morning
Usual Adult Dose for Shift Work Sleep Disorder
200 mg orally daily one hour prior to the start of the work shift
What is the dose of modafinil for a child?
Usual Pediatric Dose for Attention Deficit Disorder
Not FDA approved.
Reports of serious dermatologic adverse effects and psychiatric events has resulted in the FDA’s Pediatric Advisory Committee unanimously recommending that a specific warning against the use of modafinil in children be added to the manufacturer’s labeling; use only if first- and second-line treatments have failed and the benefits outweigh the risks.
Children less than 30 kg: 200-340 mg once daily
Children more than 30 kg: 300-425 m
How is modafinil available?
Modafinil is available in the following dosage forms and strengths:
Tablet, Oral: 100 mg, 200 mg.
What should I do in case of an emergency or overdose?
In case of an emergency or an overdose, call your local emergency services or go to your nearest emergency room.
What should I do if I miss a dose?
If you miss a dose of modafinil, take it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and take your regular dose as scheduled. Do not take a double dose.
Symptoms of overdose may include:
- difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
- hallucinations (seeing things or hearing voices that do not exist)
- uncontrollable shaking of a part of the body
- fast, slow, or pounding heartbeat
- chest pain
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Review Date: May 30, 2016 | Last Modified: November 29, 2019
Modafinil. https://www.drugs.com/cdi/modafinil.html. Accessed July 13, 2016.
Modafinil. https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a602016.html. Accessed July 13, 2016.
Modafinil, Provigil. http://www.medicinenet.com/modafinil/article.htm. Accessed July 13, 2016.