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Modafinil vs. Armodafinil: What Exactly is the Difference?

Updated: Aug 26, 2022

There are a few medications on the market that are used to treat narcolepsy and other sleep disorders, but two of the most popular are Armodafinil (brand name: Nuvigil) and Modafinil (brand name: Provigil).


Both drugs are also sometimes used "off-label" for other purposes such as treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and major depressive disorder. While Armodafinil and Modafinil share many similarities, there are some important differences between the two drugs.


They are also structurally different from other stimulants.


Armodafinil and Modafinil are thought to function in the Central Nervous System and increase dopamine activity in the brain. They may have comparable effects to other stimulants such as amphetamine (e.g. Ritalin) and methylphenidate (e.g. Concerta).


Armodafinil and Modafinil are labelled as Schedule IV medicines in the United States with a low risk of abuse and dependence. Depending on which country you live in, they are generally only available via prescription because they're controlled substances.


Now let's dig into more detail about what exactly is the difference between Modafinil and Armodafinil and why this might be important to you.


Let's jump in!


Modafinil vs. Armodafinil: What Exactly is the Difference?

Understanding the key differences between Armodafinil and Modafinil


Armodafinil is a "newer" smart drug that was introduced in 2007, whereas Modafinil was already on the market since the 1970s when it was discovered by the French neuroscientist Michel Jouvet.


Armodafinil is sold under the brand name Nuvigil, whereas Modafinil is sold under the name Provigil. They both have a large variety of different generic named products.


Armodafinil is the active R-enantiomer of Modafinil, whereas Modafinil contains a racemic mixture of R- and S-modafinil.


Enantiomers are two molecules that are mirror images of each other. They are identical in terms of molecular formula and structure, but the arrangement of their atoms is a mirror image. Enantiomers have the same chemical properties, but they can interact differently with other molecules. For example, one enantiomer of a drug might be more effective than the other, which is the case with Armodafinil when compared to Modafinil.


Armodafinil is thought to be more potent than Modafinil because it has a higher affinity for the dopamine transporter. Some research has concluded that it could be up to 1.33x more potent.


Additionally, Armodafinil has a longer half-life than Modafinil, which means that it remains active in the body for a longer period of time.


Modafinil vs. Armodafinil: What Exactly is the Difference?

Common side effects of Armodafinil and Modafinil


Armodafinil and Modafinil are central nervous system (CNS) stimulants used to improve wakefulness in adults with excessive sleepiness associated with narcolepsy, shift work sleep disorder, and obstructive sleep apnea.


Common side effects of Armodafinil and Modafinil include:

  • headaches,

  • nausea,

  • nervousness,

  • dizziness,

  • trouble sleeping (insomnia),

  • feeling jittery

Headaches are the most common side effect of both medications. If you experience headaches while taking either medication, be sure to drink plenty of fluids and take over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen as needed. We've prepared a more detail blog post on some of the different tips that you can use to help avoid and cure at Modafinil headache.


Nausea is another common side effect, especially when you first start taking the medication. To help prevent nausea, take the medication with food or a light snack.


Both medications can cause dizziness and trouble sleeping. If you experience these side effects, try taking the medication in the morning rather than the evening. If you still have trouble sleeping, talk to your doctor about other options.


Anxiety is a common side effect of both medications, but it is more common with Armodafinil than Modafinil. If you experience anxiety while taking either medication, be sure to tell your doctor so they can adjust your dosage accordingly.


In very rare cases, Armodafinil and Modafinil can cause serious side effects including (but not limited to):

  • hallucinations,

  • mania,

  • chest pain, and/or

  • a fast or irregular heartbeat.

If you experience any of these side effects, stop taking the medication and seek medical help immediately.


Modafinil vs. Armodafinil: What Exactly is the Difference?

Which is more effective: Armodafinil or Modafinil?


Armodafinil and Modafinil are equally effective for treating sleepiness caused by sleep disorders such as narcolepsy, obstructive sleep apnea, and shift work disorder. However, Armodafinil appears to have longer-lasting impacts when compared to Modafinil.


In a 12-week randomised controlled trial, both Armodafinil and Modafinil improved tiredness among night shift workers. Armodafinil and Modafinil did not differ in terms of efficacy or safety.


In a meta-analysis comparing Armodafinil and Modafinil for obstructive sleep apnea, both medicines were discovered to be effective at treating drowsiness. Patients who took either drug had similar adverse effects and enhanced daytime wakefulness.


People taking Armodafinil has been observed to have greater plasma levels in the body throughout the day. In comparison to Modafinil, higher Armodafinil levels in the system may result in better wakefulness.


Both Modafinil and Armodafinil can be used on-label to treat excessive sleepiness and other sleep disorders, whilst off-label they're both getting consumed to treat conditions such as ADHD, depression, as well as being used as a wakefulness promoting agent and/or cognitive enhancer for people to stay on top of their studies or ahead in their careers.


There are no definitive studies indicating that one is superior to the other at this time.


Where to buy Armodafinil and Modafinil


While Armodafinil and Modafinil can both be purchased from your local pharmacy with a valid prescription, they can also be purchased online easily enough without a prescription.


That being said, it isn't obvious to know where to purchase from and which vendor you can trust. This is why we've prepared some detailed vendor reviews to help you find a supplier that best suits your needs based on how much you're looking to spend and what country you live in.


Remain productive and stay safe!

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