Both modafinil and armodafinil, aka Provigil and Nuvigil, respectively, are used in treating sleep disorders. These medications are designed to keep an individual awake and focused, which is highly beneficial for patients who are suffering from certain sleep disorders that can cause extreme sleepiness or drowsiness throughout the day.

While these drugs are not permanent solutions for sleep disorders, they do help considerably in alleviating the side effects. Both modafinil and armodafinil are quite similar to each other, so it helps to know key differences between the two medications to know which would be a better fit for your particular case.

Differences Between Modafinil and Armodafinil

Both modafinil and armodafinil affect the central nervous system, which, in turn, helps increase the dopamine activity within the brain. Both medication’s effects can be compared to that of Adderall (amphetamine), but their components are entirely different compared to other stimulants. Modafinil and armodafinil are also considered as Schedule IV drugs.

Schedule IV drugs are medications that are considered to have a considerably low risk of being habit-forming/addictive. However, both are also listed under the controlled substances list, which means individuals will need a doctor’s prescription to purchase them from the pharmacy. Overall, the two are virtually the same regarding their uses and effects.

Uses of Modafinil and Armodafinil

Modafinil and armodafinil are both used to stimulate specific parts of the brain and boost overall brain activity. This will result in increased alertness, concentration, and wakefulness. Because of its natural effects, both drugs are used to treat sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), narcolepsy, and even sleep disorders caused by work shift schedules.

Narcolepsy – a sleep disorder that causes extreme sleepiness during the daytime. It can also cause sudden bouts of overwhelming lethargy at random points of the day. This condition can be debilitating with some severe cases preventing patients from functioning properly that will cause difficulties in maintaining a stable job.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea – This condition is caused when throat muscles tend to relax during sleep overly. This causes loud snoring in mild cases and breathing problems in severe ones. Obstructive sleep apnea will also lead to poor sleep quality which can negatively affect an individual during the daytime.

Shift Work Disorder – individuals whose work requires them to go through rotating shifts, are highly at risk of developing sleep disorders, namely, shift work disorder or SWD. A person’s internal clock is thrown in for a loop which causes extreme sleepiness during the day or times when the person needs to be awake.

Taking either modafinil and armodafinil can help alleviate the symptoms of the conditions we stated above. While not full-proof treatments, both medications can help pave the way to a full recovery when combined with other factors such as a healthy lifestyle.

Modafinil and armodafinil are also researched for their off-label use. Students and athletes are known to take this type of drug as it can help reduce fatigue and boost concentration and focus. Modafinil is also sometimes prescribed to alleviate fatigue for cancer patients going through treatment. Other uses of these two drugs also include treatment for mental disorders such as ADHD, and in some cases, depression.

Be advised that while both medications are sometimes considered for treating specific medical conditions (e.g. sleep disorders), these should not be used as the primary treatment option. Always consult with your doctor if you do plan on taking this type of medication.

Main Difference Between Modafinil and Armodafinil

First off, modafinil has been a long-standing medication for helping treat sleep disorders. Armodafinil is relatively new as it was approved a little over a decade ago in 2007. Armodafinil is considered as an R-enantiomer of modafinil, which means it is a nigh mirror image with slight differences in chemical structure.

Due to its more advanced chemical structure, armodafinil is considered to be the more powerful alternative to the latter. Both drugs share most of the same side effects as well. However, since armodafinil has more potent effects, it might also come with a higher risk of side effects.

Side Effects of Modafinil and Armodafinil

As with all medications, both modafinil and armodafinil are also known for causing several side effects. Since both medications have near-identical chemical structures, these lists of side effects are found on both drugs. Some of the most common side effects caused by taking either medicine include:

  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Insomnia

Modafinil can also cause specific side effects, such as:

  • Diarrhea
  • Back pain
  • Nervousness
  • Rhinitis (nasal congestion)

Other lesser-known or rare side effects of using modafinil and armodafinil are listed below:

  • Anxiety
  • Indigestion
  • Dry Mouth
  • Some of the rare side effects:
  • Allergic Reaction like a rash and difficulty breathing.
  • Depression

Interestingly enough, both medications also have a side effect that can be considered as “beneficial” depending on the goal. A great example is modafinil’s appetite-suppressing effect. This can be advantageous if weight loss is one of the purposes of the patient and doctor.

Interactions with Other Medications

As with most prescription medications, both modafinil and armodafinil must be taken with extra care. Instructions, when considering these two drugs will highlight warnings. For example, patients with previous health issues such as:

  • High blood pressure
  • Heart issues
  • Liver problem
  • Kidney problem
  • Certain psychological conditions

As you can see, both drugs can cause adverse reactions when taking alongside medications that are used for treating the above examples. Make sure to note any underlying health complications with your doctor during check-up to ensure if you can take medications such as modafinil and similar drugs.


Modafinil and armodafinil are virtually similar in almost every regard. The main difference would be with strength and cost. Armodafinil is slightly more powerful and is a bit more expensive. Other than that, both offer similar results. Always remember to consult with a health professional before taking medications such as these two. Always follow the instructions and recommendations of your doctor to avoid any side effects of repercussions that might develop.  

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