What is modafinil?
Modafinil is a stimulant medication, meaning that it has waking effects on the body. Likewise, it is commonly prescribed for shift workers or those with narcolepsy and sleep apnea. Modafinil has a different pharmacological profile from other common psychostimulant medications such as amphetamine or methylphenidate. It is different in terms of its chemical structure, neurochemical profile, and clinical effects. It is also better tolerated, as it causes minimal side effects.
There are many benefits to using modafinil outside of just increasing alertness and wakefulness. It can also help enhance mood, improve memory, and combat drowsiness. For this reason, some students and working professionals choose to use modafinil to increase productivity. This article will focus on these benefits, specifically in the settings of intense work or studying1.
Modafinil has demonstrated promise in improving cognitive performance. To evaluate this benefit, one study analyzed how modafinil affected memory in patients with remitted depression. Results showed that modafinil led to increased performance on episodic memory and working memory exams2. Other research showed that modafinil leads to better performance on tests relating to recognition, recall, visual patterns, and spatial planning3. Because modafinil can help you to retain information, it would be particularly useful in intense studying sessions where memorizing material is critical to exam performance.
Modafinil can have a variety of positive effects on your mood, which can make studying and working easier and more enjoyable. Because of its mechanism of action, modafinil affects a part of your brain called the amygdala. The amygdala is important to regulating emotions such motivation, fear, and anxiety. Modafinil can help to reduce the extent to which your amygdala reacts to external threats, which manifests as improved anxiety symptoms. Additionally, modafinil can also reduce feelings of anger, hostility, and drowsiness4.
Modafinil may also help to decrease feelings of depression. One study evaluated modafinil’s effects in individuals with major depressive disorder. Some patients were just on modafinil, while others were on it in conjunction with other antidepressant therapy. Both groups demonstrated significant improvements in mood after treatment with modafinil. By improving your mood and reducing feelings of anxiety and depression, you can achieve more effective study and work sessions5.
As aforementioned, modafinil is conventionally prescribed for certain sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea and narcolepsy. With narcolepsy, individuals experience daytime drowsiness and sleep attacks. Modafinil works to treat excessive drowsiness in narcolepsy patients by promoting wakefulness 6. Therefore, its benefits in battling fatigue and improving alertness in healthy individuals have been a major point of interest.
By preventing drowsiness, modafinil can help you to study or work longer regardless of how long you have been going for. In healthy subjects, modafinil has helped to counteract fatigue as well as the side effects of sleep deprivation during sustained activity, such as poor mood and cognition.
Modafinil has a variety of positive effects including improvements in memory, mood, and wakefulness. These benefits can help you work through intense study or work sessions by increasing your productivity.
Kim, D. (2012). Practical use and risk of modafinil, a novel waking drug. Environmental Health and Toxicology, 27, e2012007. https://doi.org/10.5620/eht.2012.27.e2012007
Kaser, M., Deakin, J. B., Michael, A., Zapata, C., Bansal, R., Ryan, D., Cormack, F., Rowe, J. B., & Sahakian, B. J. (2017). Modafinil improves episodic memory and working memory cognition in patients with remitted depression: A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study. Biological Psychiatry, 2(2), 115–122. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bpsc.2016.11.009
Turner, D. C., Robbins, T. W., Clark, L., Aron, A. R., Dowson, J., & Sahakian, B. J. (2003). Cognitive enhancing effects of modafinil in healthy volunteers. Psychopharmacology, 165(3), 260–269. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00213-002-1250-8
Rasetti, R., Mattay, V. S., Stankevich, B., Skjei, K., Blasi, G., Sambataro, F., Arrillaga-Romany, I. C., Goldberg, T. E., Callicott, J. H., Apud, J. A., & Weinberger, D. R. (2010). Modulatory effects of modafinil on neural circuits regulating emotion and cognition. Neuropsychopharmacology, 35(10), 2101–2109. https://doi.org/10.1038/npp.2010.83
Price, C. S., & Taylor, F. B. (2005). A retrospective chart review of the effects of modafinil on depression as monotherapy and as adjunctive therapy. Depression and Anxiety, 21(4), 149–153. https://doi.org/10.1002/da.20075
Schwartz, J. R. L., Nelson, M. T., Schwartz, E. R., & Hughes, R. J. (2004). Effects of modafinil on wakefulness and executive function in patients with narcolepsy experiencing late-day sleepiness. Clinical Neuropharmacology, 27(2), 74–79. https://doi.org/10.1097/00002826-200403000-00005
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