Armodafinil vs. Modafinil

If you tend to sleep most of the time, especially during the daytime, you can take certain medications to help keep you awake. Nuvigil (armodafinil) and Provigil (modafinil) both improve wakefulness in adults who are diagnosed with sleep problems.
How different is armodafinil vs. modafinil? Both medications are similar as they are what are known as ‘smart drugs.’ They both improve alertness and focus, and increase energy levels as well.

Modafinil (Provigil) was the first drug manufactured. The drug was developed by Lafon (n/k/a Cephalon) in France, and was prescribed initially in 1994 as a treatment for narcolepsy.

Cephalon then developed armodafinil (Nuvigil) as a modafinil follow-up. Armodafinil has been prescribed to patients starting 2007. Armodafinil is a modafinil enantiomer, which means armodafinil has a slightly altered chemical structure that makes it more potent than modafinil.
Each of these drugs pose different effects, and the dosages in each tablet they’re sold in are different from one another. Which then is a better drug with nootropic properties – armodafinil vs. modafinil?

Based on a clinical point of view, both drugs work effectively to treat similar clinical conditions. Armodafinil needs a smaller dosage, but there are others who prefer the effects of modafinil. Potency is not the only factor that makes one choose armodafinil or modafinil. What matters is the experience you can receive when you use either of these smart drugs.

What Does Armodafinil and Modafinil Treat?

Armodafinil and modafinil boost brain activity in order to stimulate particular brain areas associated with wakefulness. The sleep disorders that modafinil and armodafinil help treat include OSA (obstructive sleep apnea), narcolepsy, and SWD (shift work disorder).

  • As a chronic sleep issue, narcolepsy causes sudden sleep attacks and overwhelming daytime drowsiness.
  • OSA leads throat muscles to relax as you sleep, which can prevent you from sleeping well. OSA can lead to daytime drowsiness.
  • SWD affects individuals who work at night or individuals who rotate work shifts often. Such schedules can lead to trouble sleeping or feeling sleepy when you should be awake.

Armodafinil vs. Modafinil

The primary difference between the two medications is their chemical structure. Technically, armodafinil is modafinil’s enantiopure version.

Modafinil has enantiomers, which are two mirror-image stereoisomers of similar molecular structure. While the enantiomers are identical, their flipped copies are similar to a left and right hand. Modafinil’s two enantiomers are S-Modafinil and R-Modafinil.

Modafinil, which is a racemic compound, has both S- and R-enantiomers with proportions equal to its structure. It has been found, however, that the R-enantiomer is more pharmacologically stable, active, and longer-acting.

Thus, Cephalon scientists drew on this conclusion and created a new compound that consists of modafinil’s R-enantiomer – armodafinil.

With only modafinil’s right enantiomer, armodafinil is basically a more targeted and purified modafinil variant. Consequently, armodafinil binds differently to receptor sites within the body and brain as against modafinil. A standard modafinil dose is 200mg. To get the same effects, you need only to take a 150mg armodafinil dose.

Modafinil History

Provigil (modafinil) was developed in 1994. While initially deemed a narcolepsy treatment, doctors soon found out that Provigil can also treat shift sleep disorder and sleep apnea.

Soon enough, entrepreneurs and even students found modafinil to be beneficial for focus, cognition, and productivity. Modafinil nowadays is a smart nootropic used by CEOs, digital nomads, and students.

Armodafinil History

Cephalon, the developer of modafinil, created Nuvigil (armodafinil) in 2007. As its predecessor’s patent had run its course, Cephalon came up with a new drug with the same effects. The chemical structure, however, is different.

Because of both drugs’ minor chemical alterations, Cephalon can get another patent for armodafinil. Throughout the day, armodafinil also offers higher concentrations of plasma.

Armodafinil Features

Nuvigil’s generic name is armodafinil, and there’s a generic version available. The drug is used to improve wakefulness in individuals suffering from SWD, OSA, and narcolepsy. The oral tablet of armodafinil comes in doses of 50mg, 150mg, 200mg, and 250mg. The drug’s half-life is around 15 hours and the typical treatment length of Nuvigil is long-term.

The drug should be stored at room temperature from 20°C and 25°C (68°F and 77°F). Nuvigil is a controlled substance, which means your physician must supervise how you take the drug. Moreover, you can’t give a controlled substance to anybody else.

There is no risk of withdrawal symptoms if you stop using this drug. However, armodafinil has the potential for abuse, addiction, or misuse. Take the drug exactly as your doctor recommends. Talk to your doctor if you have concerns and questions when taking armodafinil.

To treat narcolepsy or OSA, take Nuvigil once a day in the morning with a 150 to 250mg dose. For shift work disorder, take 150mg of armodafinil once a day around 1 hour before you begin your work shift.

Modafinil Features

Provigil’s generic name is modafinil, and there’s also a generic version sold in pharmacies and online. Like armodafinil, modafinil is used to improve wakefulness in people dealing with SWD, OSA, and narcolepsy. The oral tablet comes in dosages of 100mg and 200mg.

The drug’s half-life is around 15 hours, and the length of treatment is typically long-term. Storage of modafinil is similar to armodafinil, from 20°C to 25°C (68°F to 77°F). Provigil is also a controlled substance, so you need your doctor’s supervision as you take it.

While you may not experience withdrawal symptoms as you use modafinil, you may risk misusing this drug. You can be addicted, so you are only limited to what the doctor has written out for you.

The dosage for Provigil to treat its prescribed medical conditions is similar to the dosage of Nuvigil. For narcolepsy or OSA, the recommended dosage is 200mg once a day in the morning.

For shift work disorder, the recommended dosage is 200mg taken once daily at around one hour before the start of the work shift.

Side Effects

The listed side effects of both armodafinil and modafinil are similar. Some of the side effects of using either drug include nausea, headache, dizziness, trouble sleeping, anxiety, and diarrhea. Back pain and stuffy nose are side effects associated with modafinil.

Serious side effects are both common in Nuvigil and Provigil. These side effects include depression, allergic reaction or serious rash, suicidal thoughts, hallucinations, chest pain, mania, and trouble breathing.

Certain side effects linked to armodafinil vs. modafinil differ slightly, depending on the particular drug, whether that drug is either Nuvigil or Provigil. However, most of the reported mild side effects in user reviews overlap between the two medications.

Before you take a certain drug for the first time, you may observe some mild side effects. This means your system is adjusting to the new medication. If the side effects don’t go away after 2 to 3 weeks, talk to your doctor and see if you can get a lower dosage.

Insomnia can be common if you take either modafinil or armodafinil. However, it’s not actually a reaction to the drug taken. It’s more of improper dosage timing, like taking the drug after lunchtime.

Armodafinil and modafinil, as they have relatively long half-lives, can be active in your system and lead to stimulating effects hours after you take them. Thus, it’s recommended to take either medication early in the morning so you won’t encounter any sleep difficulties at night.

While it’s a rarity, there’s a chance a person may get a severe skin reaction including TEN (toxic epidermal necrolysis), Stevens-Johnson syndrome, or DRESS (drug reaction with eosinophilia and systemic symptoms. There are studies that show evidence of people having a genetic predisposition developing these conditions when they take medications like armodafinil and modafinil.

It’s important to stop taking these medications if you experience these rare and serious side effects. Also stop taking either medicine if you develop flu-like symptoms, a fever, and a rash that blisters and spreads.

Drug Interactions and Uses with other Conditions

Armodafinil and modafinil can interact with other drugs you may be on. Such interactions can make such medicines less effective. These interactions may even lead to side effects. To avoid drug interactions, your doctor can decrease or increase your dosage of such drugs. Some medications that can interact with either modafinil or armodafinil include:

  • Cyclosporine
  • Birth control pills
  • Triazolam
  • Midazolam
  • Diazepam
  • Phenytoin
  • Omeprazole
  • Propranolol
  • Clomipramine

Both armodafinil and modafinil can cause further health issues if you’re suffering from certain health problems. Examples of medical conditions that you may want to discuss with your doctor before taking either drug include:

  • Kidney problems
  • Liver problems
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart issues
  • Mental health conditions

Efficacy of Armodafinil vs. Modafinil

The efficacy of both drugs slightly vary, even if they serve the same purpose. Some people believe that armodafinil is more potent than modafinil because of its single R-enantiomer, as compared to the latter’s R- and S-enantiomers. While some say armodafinil is twice more potent, it may come down to the person’s experience or personal preferences.

Each drug has a therapeutic ceiling, which means more than the recommended dose may no longer be effective. Provigil’s therapeutic limit is 200mg a day, while Nuvigil’s is believed to be about 150mg daily. Armodafinil’s effects take about 2 hours to manifest, while modafinil’s effects peak at 2 to 4 hours.

Provigil helps to regularize sleep patterns for individuals who suffer from sleep-related disorders like sleep apnea and narcolepsy. Armodafinil works the same way, except that armodafinil doesn’t interrupt the sleeping cycles. You can just go to bed and rise up at the usual time. As for modafinil, users say that they can’t sleep within 5 to 10 hours of taking the drug.

The onset of the effect’s duration may be an apparent indication that armodafinil can be more potent. However, there are those individuals who prefer something else other than potency. They may prefer the experience of taking a smart drug.

Individuals observe various experiences with either modafinil or armodafinil based on the effects the nootropics have on their systems. If you take that into consideration, you may find that there aren’t too many discrepancies in the effectiveness and effects of armodafinil vs. modafinil.

Buying Armodafinil and Modafinil

In a lot of countries, both Nuvigil and Provigil are classified as prescription-only drugs. In the U.S., for example, the US. FDA (Food and Drug Administration) classifies both drugs as prescription-only meds. You can own and take these drugs, but you need a valid prescription from your doctor. Both modafinil and armodafinil are categorized similarly in countries like the United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada.

Prescriptions for both drugs are written usually for sleep disorders like shift-work sleep disorder, narcolepsy, and obstructive hypopnea/sleep apnea syndrome. Prescriptions may also be issued for off-label medical conditions like ADHD (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder). However, these prescriptions for off-label conditions are rare.

Both drugs are also expensive, setting you back hundreds of dollars each month for both modafinil and armodafinil. For such reasons, some people tend to buy these drugs from international online pharmacies, which sell these smart drugs with no prescription.

When you buy online, you need to make sure that the source you’re getting your modafinil or armodafinil from is legit. If you’re not sure about getting these drugs online, or you don’t want to spend huge amounts a month for these meds, you can consider other alternatives. Moreover, these drugs are not always covered by insurance. Individuals may settle instead on buying non-prescription nootropics like one of the Racetams or Adrafinil.

The Verdict

What do you think is best for you – armodafinil vs. modafinil? Both of them are similar, and the main differences may be their costs and the strengths they come in.

If you want to be at maximum efficiency at work, modafinil can be a better alternative over armodafinil. The cognitive effects of the former are slightly stronger. When cycled properly, you can perform well at work.

If you want a therapeutic effect or if you want a regular use of a smart drug, take armodafinil. You get fewer side effects when taking Nuvigil, and you’re likely to sleep better.

If you don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on either modafinil or armodafinil, but you want the effects of a nootropic, get a non-prescription supplement.

If you have concerns about either drug, of if you prefer to take a different nootropic supplement, talk to your physician. When you work together, you can both decide on the right medication for you.