How well does Modafinil work?
September 26, 2006 9:35 AM   Subscribe

Has anyone here taken Modafinil (Provigil) or any similar drug?

I'm curious about Modafinil. If you've ever taken the drug, what effects did it have on you? Did you get jittery? Were you able to concentrate? Did you actually feel awake and alert? How long could you go without sleep? Were you able to stay up for 24 hours? Seventy-two hours? If you went without sleep, were you able to function at work the next day? Did other people notice anything "off" about you?

Just curious.

(I'm not interested in on-line pharmacies supplying this substance. I'm more interested in hearing about the actual effects, the experience of Modafinil.)
posted by jason's_planet to Grab Bag (17 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
An article from Slate on precisely this subject.
posted by slenderloris at 9:43 AM on September 26, 2006

A close friend of mine tried it a few years ago for perpetual sleepiness (strong enough that he didn't have to get the doc to write a scrip on the sly). He only lasted about 4 or 5 days before the feelings of strangeness and edgy-ness convinced him it was too unnatural to use regularly (pretty much echoing the article linked by slenderloris). But he did not mention other people's reactions, and I can't remember anything different by his actions...anything beyond a cup of coffee's worth of pep.
posted by iurodivii at 9:56 AM on September 26, 2006

I'm currently tapering off on Strattera and am going to startup Provigil for ADHD treatment.

My shrink speaks quite highly of it for ADHD/ADD treatments, so we'll see.
posted by Lord_Pall at 10:11 AM on September 26, 2006

I tried it for a month as an attempt to treat persistent sleepiness related to sleep apnea. (Apparently 15% of sleep apnea patients experience persistent sleepiness even if the apnea is being treated successfully by a CPAP, and I fall in that category.)

The first two days were crazy. I was bouncing off the walls. I would imagine that anyone who knew me well would have noticed a big difference. I got an insane amount of work and chores done in those two days.

After that it kind of levelled off. I wasn't tired anymore, but I didn't feel hyper anymore either. I did notice that my heart was racing all the time, and that kind of freaked me out. My resting heart rate is usually in the 60's, and I'd be sitting there watching TV with my heart going 90 bpm.

I never noticed any edginess or sense of unreality. I read that Slate article too, and I didn't end up feeling anything like he did. In the end I stopped taking it just because it didn't really seem to help me all that much after the first few weeks.

However, there were several times when I got only 3 or 4 hours of sleep, and I felt perfectly fine the next day thanks to Provigil. One time I got about 4 hours of sleep a night, 4 days in a row. By the 4th day I really needed to get some good rest, but I was doing fine for 3+ days.

I never tried staying up for 24 hours, or anything crazy like that. I can easily see how you could do that with Vitamin P though.
posted by agropyron at 10:16 AM on September 26, 2006

I've been using Provigil for not quite a year. Like agropyron, I had persistent sleepiness that CPAP just couldn't reach, but it's worked really well for me.

I'd read the Slate article before I started taking it, but that largely didn't track for me. The only real crazy effects I noticed were in the first week or so of use - I felt a distinct tightness in my head, and a very intense focus on the first day. Caffeine made me insanely hyper. I had a couple of nasty headaches, and my face and head once felt really really warm and flushed (I think my heart was going at a pretty good clip, too). But beyond that, things pretty much leveled off and it mostly just made me not be sleepy all day.

Sometimes I forget to take it, and it's only after wondering why I'm so sleepy that it hits me - I forgot my pill. Idiot.

I have used it for staying up late, and while it does help the sleepiness, it doesn't mean that all-nighters are pleasant. You basically feel very tired but not particularly sleepy. I've found that I had to use more of it when I was doing stuff like that, and it didn't entirely banish the sleepiness of being up for far too long. But it did subdue it pretty well.

Anyway, after the first few weeks, I hit a steady point. I feel a little tightness in my head when it starts working in the morning, but that's about it. Mostly, I just don't feel sleepy until bedtime. Even if I take two in one day, so that I'm not sleepy at night, I have no problem going to sleep - it's only kept me awake once or twice.

I do get headaches if I skip a day, though.
posted by averyoldworld at 10:44 AM on September 26, 2006

I was first prescribed it a few years ago when my doctors thought I had narcolepsy. It turned out I had some combination of migraines presenting weirdly and really bad sleep apnea (which is pretty rare in skinny people like me).

It was absolutely a miracle drug for me - I was suddenly awake during the day. It totally changed my life - the fog over cognition that had impaired me every day for years suddenly lifted.

Once I got the sleep apnea taken care of (via UPPP surgery), I managed to keep getting the provigil Rx refilled. I don't take it every day any more, but I like having it available on an as-needed basis - I rarely take it more than once in any given two-week period, and probably not even that often.

I basically find these days that taking provigil for more than a day or so is like borrowing mental capacity from the future. If I take it for just one day, and then give it a rest, that's fine. In that case, it's really something of of cognitive miracle drug - I'm alert and awake all day, and what's more I'm way more productive than usual - not only in quantity but in quality. I come up with better ideas, find more elegant solutions to problems, make connections between things that solve problems that on non-provigil days stymied me. However, if I take it for two days in a row, I feel awake the second day, but the positive cognitive effects turn into negative ones - I am awake, but mentally foggy. Things that would normally be easy get hard. And, the next day, I'm often exhausted.

In sum - I think it's a really good tool to have in one's pharmaceutical toolkit - if you absolutely need a really high-output day, it's great. Like any drug, it's got to be treated with caution and used in great moderation.
posted by dmd at 11:53 AM on September 26, 2006

I've taken it a bunch of times recreationally. I have felt alert and in a good mood, noticeably so, whenever I've taken it. I would compare the effects to various versions of amphetamine, not excluding ephedrine, although much smoother, if that makes sense. It's made me moderately more productive, but also able to spend more time and focus on things I otherwise might be able to ignore. One thing I've found interesting is that it's seemed to me to have a muted but distinct high and subsequent low, and those things weren't that far apart. About six hours after taking it I've felt tired and yawny. That hasn't been horrible, but it's also contrary to the reports about no associated lows.

I had a girlfriend who was on it, supposedly for depression. She took a lot, one a day, and then two a day for a while. She claimed to feel no real difference taking it or not, and, while she got stuff done, she was nobody's dynamo. She was sweet enough to share it occassionally with me, though.
posted by OmieWise at 12:18 PM on September 26, 2006

I've been taking Provigil (200mg) for ADD since April of this year after Cylert was discontinued and was no longer available. I take it every day.
Like Omiewise, I feel very focused (more than the cylert even) but no high and low. Felt speedy when I first started it, but not so much 5 months later. Provigil does take some getting used to if you take it every day, so your experience on the first day is not going to be the same as three months later. No bad side effects except maybe the occasional headache or dizziness that could not be attributed to other factors. It helps if you drink A LOT of water - it seems like Provigil may be a little dehydrating - I notice drymouth sometimes. Also, and this may actually be documented somewhere IIRC, but Provigil has a very interesting effect on the body's elimination system. Within the hour after taking it, you're going to have a very strong urge to visit the bathroom. Seems counter productive for it's initial use by the Air Force for pilots on long distance flights, but there it is.
Hope you have good luck with this drug.
posted by Carnage Asada at 1:50 PM on September 26, 2006

I tried it for exactly two days once.

Those were the two best days fo my life.
posted by clango at 3:10 PM on September 26, 2006

In my experience, there are only two downsides to the eerie and remarkable effects of Provigil.

One is thinking: I got 70 minutes of sleep, and my bones are weary, but I can do complex math in my head... so, where's the bill? What inside me is paying for this free ride?

Two is what it's like to piss, when you're on it and for a little while afterwards. Painless, normal color, but the smell of your urine can best be described as a garbage barge out at sea. Set on fire.

The pee thing suggests that maybe it's not great for you, but IANAD.The rest, it's all positive, in my experience. If I could afford it ($9/pill off-script) I'd take it every day.
posted by cloudscratcher at 5:43 PM on September 26, 2006

That pissing thing is definitely not normal and you should talk to your doctor about it.
posted by dmd at 8:10 PM on September 26, 2006

I took a single tablet on a trip from SFO to Barcelona to keep me awake so I could adjust to local time. I took it during a brief layover at Heathrow.

It wasn't stimulating like caffiene. I was still tired, physically and mentally, but it removed the desire to sleep.

When it was a reasonable hour to turn in, Barcelona time, I was able to fall asleep without difficulty. I woke up the next morning feeling well-rested. Compared to my previous trip to Europe, the jet lag was minimal to nonexistent.

I would use it again for jet lag prevention. From my experience, I'm not sure how useful it would be if you had to operate at full mental capacity for an extended period of time.
posted by murphy slaw at 11:27 PM on September 26, 2006

The following is Mrs. iurodivii:

Mr. iurodivii seems to have forgetten that I actually took a whole bottle of Provigil (one or two a day, of course, not all at once) and besides making me feel a little more energetic the first day or two, I was pretty unimpressed. I gave up after the first month cuz it just wasn't worth the money to me.

Apparently my experience wasn't the norm, but then again, I'm pretty damn sleepy....and was really bored with my job at the time. It's possible that if I tried it again now that I like my job it would be there's a thought....where is that empty bottle with the 1 refill??
posted by iurodivii at 6:28 PM on September 27, 2006

Great responses!

I think I would only be using this occasionally for those nights when I can't get more than three or four hours of sleep but need to be human and presentable at work the next day. I don't think there's any way I could use this drug as a regular, day-in-day-out drug.

But thanks to all of you for sharing your experiences with Provigil. I'm sorry I didn't get back to you earlier, but work has been insane.
posted by jason's_planet at 10:03 PM on September 28, 2006

work has been insane

Take some provigil!
posted by dmd at 10:28 AM on September 29, 2006

I recently started taking modafinil as I find that at work I was feeling really tired after lunch anc couldn't keep my eyes open at meetings and would actually fall asleep sometimes, only to be awoken by my head droping forwards!

I found that if I took 200mg in the morning, I would be fine all day. I felt more focused and didn't get the post lunch crash. I haven't tried staying awake for 24 hour periods or anything, as the only reason I take it is to keep me alert during the working day.

I had a bad experience ordering from a company called, so I would advise against getting your modafinil from them. They owe me 70 dollars!

I now get mine from a place in the UK and have had no problems with them.

I think they are cheaper because they use a generic version of Provigil, Modalert and I can say that it works for me.

Alternatively, I think you can get your doctor to prescribe it for you, but for me it works out cheaper buying it online plus it is more convenient!
posted by james73 at 12:30 PM on August 31, 2007

My pee smells bad, too!! After a few days of being on it, I noticed my urine smelled as described above ("a garbage barge out at sea. Set on fire."). Drinking a lot of liquids helps lessen the intensity. It sounds like not everyone experiences this, but I just wanted to say cloudscratcher isn't the only one with this side-effect.

I've only been on Provigil for a little over a week now. My psychiatrist put me on it ... I have depression and he prescribed it for fatigue/bad focus. I must say, I'm not really feeling the wonderful effects that a lot of other people seem to get. It doesn't really help my concentration... in fact, I feel like I'm /more/ tired and unfocused than when I wasn't on it! So we'll see how it goes. (But again, I've read a lot more positive reviews than negative ones.)
posted by catgofire at 10:49 AM on September 20, 2007

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