Modafinil (Provigil) is a drug used primarily for the treatment of sleep disorders. Some of the specific sleep disorders that are treated by this medication include narcolepsy and sleep apnea. The drug is also used to treat other medical conditions under the guidance of a physician.
Modafinil does not eliminate your need for sleep over the long run. It can help you perform better and forestall the effects of sleep deprivation to some extent. Repeated studies have shown that the physiological need for sleep during sleep deprivation can be reversed only by actual sleep.
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Modafinil is FDA-approved for a shift-work sleep disorder, narcolepsy, and a form of apnea called Obstructive Sleep Apnea Hypoventilation Syndrome. Doctors sometimes prescribe Modafinil to treat other conditions “off-label.” A recent Harvard Medical School study showed good results from tests using the drug for alleviating the effects of overwork and jet lag. There are a limited number of treatment options for circadian rhythm sleep disorders, so Modafinil is another tool in the doctor’s toolbox.
Modafinil is a regulated drug because of the high probability of dependence or addiction. Physicians should take careful precautions to use this medication judiciously and in the right dosage. Patients need to be monitored for drug interactions, especially those with concomitant MAOI medications. Those taking amphetamines, as well as women who are using birth control, need to be monitored more closely by their attending physician for potential side effects. If the patient starts exhibiting physical and psychological dependence on the drug, the physician needs to be informed immediately.
Modafinil also improves cognitive ability and has been suggested for the treatment of methamphetamine addicts, who frequently have prefrontal cortical function problems. Tests on animals show that modafinil improves spatial task proficiency – thought to be located in the hippocampal part of the brain. BOLD fMRI tests show the people on modafinil have less amygdala reactivity when presented with threats. Does Modafinil make you brave? It’s not that simple, but the medication does change the brain in the short run. A recent German review showed that the drug can do only so much in maintaining wakefulness, however. Eventually, people need to sleep.
French scientists have recently determined that Modafinil can help memory and other forms of mental performance in sleep-deprived mice. This meshes with reports of many humans who take Modafinil and find the same thing.