While Modafinil is well tolerated by almost all of its users, some people occasionally report minor side effects. The Modvigil blog has pored through numerous user reviews, read many forum threads, and engaged with a large number of people who have experienced these symptoms. In this article I’ll be detailing a few of the ways that you can avoid some of the common side effects attributed to Modafinil use.
What are the Side Effects of Modafinil?
The most common problem patients experience is headaches when taking Modafinil. This, depending on various sources, occurs in somewhere between 10-35% of Modafinil users. After that, nausea occurs in about 10% of users. Irritability and agitated moods occur in a similar percentage. Dry mouth is reported in about 5% of cases, and finally insomnia is occasionally cited in only 5% of patients. Let’s address these one by one.
The truth is that most of these issues are entirely avoidable, and require simple adjustments to your behavior when on Modafinil in order to prevent them.
Preventing Headaches on Modafinil
Headaches are the number one complaint among Modafinil users. Curiously though, very few people report constantly getting them. Speaking from personal experience, I’ve had headaches on a few occasions and they vary in strength and frequency. Modafinil is a diuretic and stimulant, meaning that it will drain your body of liquids faster. Headaches are most commonly caused by dehydration. This is why headaches are usually associated with hangovers. When you drink too much alcohol, which is also a diuretic, you will lose body water and feel dehydrated the next day without replenishing your fluids. Thus, you get a headache.
So stay hydrated on Modafinil. You’ll need to drink more water than normal. Also it’s best not to take Modafinil immediately after a long night out drinking or after another situation where you might be dehydrated, as this can result in headaches. Also avoid high-sodium foods, as these have a tendency to exacerbate dehydration.
Dry mouth is also related to the faster processing of water through the body’s system. Drinking more water will prevent headaches and dry mouth as well.
Headaches can also be caused by extensive eye strain. A common result of Modafinil’s focus-aiding properties is that you will spend more time doing work without much of a break. I know from experience that I’ve felt headaches come on after sitting at the computer for 2 or 3 hours. That continued strain can fatigue the body, and you’re probably not staying hydrated either. So take breaks, stretch out, relax your eyes, and water your body.
Preventing Insomnia on Modafinil
Insomnia seems like an obvious side effect of a medication that keeps you awake. It’s important to realize that for most people sleeping on Modafinil is virtually impossible. So time your doses accordingly. It’s best to allot at least 12 hours after a 200mg dose. After that, sleeping should be easier. Some people find that it takes closer to 16 hours to be able to sleep. Know yourself. Avoid taking doses later in the day. You might get that late work done, but then you’ll likely end up sitting in front of the TV most of the night cursing the heavens in frustration. Insomnia on Modafinil is nearly always user error.
Preventing Irritability and Agitation on Modafinil
This one is a bit trickier. I myself find that I have a lower tolerance for other people in general. I find that the irritability comes from distractions. I’m correcting a paper, or reading a book, or typing an article, only to have people asking me annoying questions or having a loud conversation around me. Modafinil is not the best drug for social interaction. While you can certainly carry out your business for the day, users generally claim they are more concentrated and more efficient. Efficiency hates unnecessary interruptions.
The solution in my case, and for many others, has been to adapt your working environment to your mental state. For instance, if you normally do a lot of work at home with your children running around, it might be best to invest in an office with a closed door. Or maybe putting on a pair of noise-cancelling headphones is the secret for you. Effectively you have to cut out those distractions which are now more noticeable and more abrasive. A user review once suggested deep breathing exercises while taking a break from working. Again, know yourself. Find what works for you. My method: Take a nice walk with the headphones playing some relaxing music. A good ten minute break puts me in a better mood to deal with people.
Preventing Nausea on Modafinil
Nausea is probably one of the hardest symptoms to manage for a number of reasons. One is that everybody’s stomach is different and what bothers one person may not bother anyone else. I for one eat like a starved refugee at a buffet and I’ve never once had nausea from Modafinil, or really anything else. The bulk of the reviews that I’ve gone over seem to point to one common trend: Eating healthier prevents nausea.
First of all, Modafinil tends to reduce appetite. Eating too much in spite of that response may cause nausea and an upset stomach. So go light on your meals. It’s also not a bad idea to eat something light before dosing. Fruit seems to be very agreeable with Modafinil, as are salads and lighter meats such as fish or chicken. It seems that greasy foods and heavier red meats don’t get along quite as well with Modafinil. Modafinil speeds up most of your systems in general. Diuretics cause your insides to move food and water through the body faster. However the food in question may not be getting adequately digested if it’s a heavy type of food or in large quantities.
So keep it light, and you’ll probably have more success avoiding nausea.
Can Modafinil Cause Serious Side Effects?
There are, in extremely rare (less than 1%) cases, incidents of serious side effects. Some of these include strong mental effects, for instance depression or hallucinations. People prone to mental illness should particularly watch for these. Others can be physical such as an irregular heartbeat or skin rash. Again, these are extremely uncommon, so if they appear you should stop taking Modafinil and speak to a doctor immediately to ensure that the pill is not responsible for the problem.
Fortunately, most people tolerate Modafinil just fine, and you shouldn’t be afraid to try it just because of potential side effects. They are extremely mild in comparison with other prescription drugs, and as you’ve read here the most frequently reported problems are actually quite avoidable and manageable. Just another reason why millions of people have tried Modafinil to date.