Modafinil has become popular largely because it’s well tolerated by most people, to the point of many people reporting no side effects at all. However, some users do experience different side effects which can cause some discomfort. This article details how you can avoid or reduce the side effects of modafinil and armodafinil, as many of them are not precisely caused by the medicine but rather by changes in your habits that it tends to create. Clinical trials of modafinil have shown it to be very safe and agreeable with virtually everyone, but there are some who experience mild symptoms as well as the rare severe symptom.
First of all, it’s worth mentioning that side effects tend to scale with dosage. Most people try 200mg of modafinil, but many people find that half a dose is enough to increase productivity and performance without side effects. If you find that these tips don’t work for you, consider lowering your dosage.
One of the most common complaints from people who take modafinil is having headaches during the day. Roughly 8% of users report headaches as a symptom. Usually they aren’t very severe, but they can be distracting and irritating when they occur. The main reason headaches occur is that modafinil, like many other stimulants, is a diuretic. This means that you’re more likely to urinate throughout the day and water passes through your system faster. The result is that you will get dehydrated faster. In fact, this is generally understood as the same mechanism behind the dreaded hangover headache. You wake up horrifically dehydrated and feeling as though you were a living desert, and the subsequent headache lasts a while as you replenish your fluids.
Solution: Drink more water. Make it a point to keep a bottle around while you’re on modafinil, and fill it up. I normally drink 2-3 bottles a day, and up that to 4-5 if I’m on modafinil and experience no problems.
Also, if you’re a frequent caffeine user, avoid ditching your morning coffee when you use modafinil. Caffeine withdrawal leads to headaches, and while you might not feel the need for the extra energy, have one cup instead of your usual three and you’ll avoid the awful caffeine headache later on.
Like the previous symptom, relatively few people complain of dry mouth, but it occurs in about 5-6% of individuals. The reason is exactly the same as the previous one: a lack of water.
Solution: Drink more water. It’s not too hard to interpret your body’s symptoms. Dry mouth means you need more liquids.
Nausea is even less common, with only 4% of users reporting it. There are a few possible explanations. One goes back to the dehydration point. Your body needs water to help move food through your stomach and if it gets dry it can lead to more sensitivity and stomach pain, which will lead to nausea. On the other hand, modafinil has been proven to reduce appetite, so you may not feel as hungry and food may seem less appealing. People who report nausea tend to also report this with other types of medicines, so if you know you have a tendency to feel nauseous on certain medications it’s more likely to happen with modafinil as well. It seems to be most common in the morning, or shortly after taking modafinil.
Solution: Have a light breakfast before taking your pill. Stay hydrated. Avoid heavy meals when you’re not in the mood, although don’t stop eating altogether.
Feeling Nervous or Agitated
This symptom is reported in about 5% of users, and it’s much more common on higher doses (9% with 400mg users in clinical trials). Regarding agitation, it seems that as modafinil tends to lock you into an activity with greater concentration, breaking that concentration can be more annoying than usual. People often comment that they’re testier when a coworker or a client asks a question while they’re involved in another task. I can attest to that, and it’s something to watch out for. If you’re aware of it, you can attempt to fight it back by simply counting to three before switching tasks. As far as feeling nervous is concerned, some people find themselves fidgety or antsy with the extra energy they have. This is often the result of a lack of things to do, or disorganization during a modafinil day.
Solution: Breathe before responding, think before you speak. Keep a list of things to do and make sure you check it off as you go. The mental satisfaction of accomplishing your to-dos will outweigh the possible negative influence of modafinil and keep you cheerful.
Alright, this one is entirely the result of a lack of common sense, but let’s talk about it anyway. Modafinil tends to last about 12 hours and armodafinil generally 2-3 more. After that its effects are significantly reduced and less noticeable. Most people report being unable to sleep while on modafinil, which is more or less the point of the pill seeing as it was designed to treat sleep disorders such as narcolepsy. So don’t be surprised when you plop down for a nap only to be denied. Likewise, don’t be shocked if you took your pill at 10 AM and can’t fall asleep at 10 PM.
Solution: Simple. Plan your day well. Take your modafinil in anticipation of your bedtime. I usually get up at 6 and go to bed around 10. By taking the pill right after I get ready for the day I’m well exhausted by the end of it and sleep very well.
Serious Side Effects (Call a doctor)
Serious side effects are very rare with modafinil, showing up in roughly 1% of the sample populations from studies, based on the number of participants who quit using the drug. However they include some of the following:
- Fever, including vomiting, headache, blistering and skin peeling
- Bruising or easier bruising
- Excessive bleeding
- White patches or sores inside mouth
- Mental symptoms such as hallucinations, depression, severe anxiety
- Chest pains
Fever, excessive bleeding and bruising, and sores in the mouth generally indicate an allergy to the medicine, and it should be stopped immediately. Mental symptoms are usually the result of previously undiagnosed conditions such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, although these have never been shown to be brought on by modafinil. Chest pains are also usually indicative of an underlying condition. Modafinil accelerates the heart and can increase blood pressure, so chest pains are a sign of other heart conditions being exacerbated by modafinil’s effects.
Solution: Call a doctor if you experience any of these symptoms, and stop taking modafinil immediately. There are no recorded fatalities related to modafinil, and it’s extremely safe having passed a battery of tests and trials. However, safety comes first, so do not take these symptoms lightly if you develop them.