So between a full-time job, two kids under the age of three, and a huge MBA course load, I’ve been pretty much sleep-deprived for the last 7-8 months. I’ve always been able to get by on 6 hours sleep or so, but 4-5 hours a night for several days in a row, for weeks on end, clearly was pushing it. I was getting sick more often, felt continually tired and not as mentally alert, when I did have free time in the afternoons on the weekends I didn’t have any energy to play with my 3yr old, who I am convinced basically never sleeps.
So after reading about it extensively, I picked up some Modafinil - this was definitely a Big Deal for me, because in general I rarely if ever take anything for any ailment (I might take an aspirin if I have a particularly bad headache, but that’s about it). And wow - all I have to say is I’m kicking myself for not trying this earlier, this stuff *rocks. *Note to self: don’t take this after 2-3pm unless you want to be wide awake until 6am the next day…
I find it completely removes the feeling of ‘sleepiness’ for 8-10 hours, and I see a significant improvement in ability to focus & concentrate particularly during the 4-5 hour ‘sweet spot’ that seems to kick in about 30 minutes after taking a dose. This past weekend was the first time in a long time when I was able to fully enjoy playing with the kids without feeling like a zombie, and still got in several hours of quality study time in the evening after the kiddies were asleep.
My dad took it for his narcolepsy for years and a close friend still takes it for narcolepsy. I certainly wouldn’t want to take a powerful drug like that just because I wasn’t sleeping enough. Although, I don’t drink caffeine to pep myself up either.
Where do you live that you were able to just pick up a prescription drug for off-label uses?
I have a whole stableful of sleep issues. RLS (self-diagnosed, later confirmed with a number of doctors)… eventually treated with a dopamine agonist and still I felt like shit. Sleep apnea (which took 4 sleep studies to get enough data to treat)… treated with CPAP and still I felt like shit. Another sleep study which included the daytime sleep latency test and that produced a label of “Excessive Daytime Sleepiness” (not narcolepsy though).
So they tried me on Nuvigil (armodafinil) and it definitely helped. To the point that when I was first trying it out it scared me. I’d tried for a couple of days, seemed to help, but I got bronchitis and had enough other stuff going on that I didn’t take it. After a week or so of vacation, where I slept 8-9 hours a day, I took it for the drive home…
and oh, my gawd. I felt good. Not GOOOOOD WHEEEEEEEE!!!, but about like I think most people feel when they’re relaxed and well rested. The feeling was so alien that it genuinely scared me. I was doing the first leg of driving, and kept asking my husband if I was acting odd or appeared to be taking any risks. He kept assuring me that no, I appeared fine. He understood my reason for asking, however. Anyway, I wound up driving 9+ hours myself before I pooped out and had him take the last couple hours.
I switched to Provigil (modafinil, the older version of armodafinil) because my insurance had a much higher copay for it. My dosage is 200 mg in the morning and 200 mg in the early afternoon. I often skip the afternoon dosage, especially on weekends.
Both of these are category IV (I think that’s it); some concern over dependence. And that one day where I scared myself, I could see getting very, very attached to feeling that way. Luckily for me, it gave me HORRIBLE insomnia that night which was pretty good at providing negative reinforcement.
It has never made me feel as “normal” as the Nuvigil did. On the other hand, it does turn me from frighteningly groggy into “just tired”. I don’t know that it helps my concentration all that much but it’s certainly better than nothing. And it has given us the ability to go on longer driving trips when needed (sometimes helped with a small dose of Ritalin late in the afternoon).
Sleeplessness: Not an issue with me, for the most part. If I haven’t taken it for a couple of weeks (I take a break from several sleep-related meds every year) then the first night back on can be pretty rough even if I’ve taken a much smaller dose. But I can take my afternoon dose as late as 4:00 or so and not have an issue with falling asleep at 11 PM or so. This is no doubt due to a combination of things: the severe “tired all the time” sleepiness I have when undrugged, and the fact that the dopamine agonist I take for RLS has sleepiness as a side effect.
Modafinil is one of those drugs that is rumored to be a nootropic (i.e. boosts brain power).
In the OP’s situation, I can see where it would make a big difference. If I’m short on sleep, used to be I could bull my way through the day anyway. Nowadays I can’t function at all if I am badly shorted on sleep, until the stuff kicks in (then I’m just dead tired). If I’ve had 8-9 hours of sleep, I can function (sort of) without the drug but I’m quite apt to sleep through movies, for example, and I really want a nap in the afternoon. So on a bad day it turns me from scaring myself to very tired, on a good day it turns me from very tired to just tired.
While I haven’t seen any evidence of true dependency in my case (I mean, I can quit taking it for weeks at a time, and skipping a day here or there has no side effects except I’m back into stumbling-into-walls mode), I admit I did get a little worried recently when due to my own screwup (lost the scrip for the refill) I thought I’d have to go several weeks without having it on hand. I truly believe that was more of a conscious awareness that the stuff helps me, than any kind of dependence though.
Wow - I take 100mg dosages, but only tried taking one in the early afternoon just once - won’t do that again; I was wide awake until 5am the next day. I can’t imagine what would happen if I took a pill in the morning -and- afternoon.
I don’t know if it increases brain power or not, but like I said, I definitely find it easier to concentrate / focus for a 4-5 hour span, starting about 45 minutes after taking a pill.
I’m still trying to work out which works better: Take a pill in the late morning on days I plan to stay up late to study, or take it in the early morning -after- staying up late to study.
Hard to say on that last question. If you’re more alert, you might learn more (i.e. take the day before), OTOH if you’re trashed from too little sleep, you might not be able to access / disgorge what you learned the night before.
Re taking it in the afternoon: yeah, that’s not generally recommended but depending on the reason for taking it (narcolepsy or other severe sleepiness) it may be appropriate. As far as “early afternoon = awake all night”, that’s probably a combination of the fact that you were “naive” to the drug (hadn’t taken it at all, or at least rarely), and the fact that aside from burning the candle at both ends, you don’t have real sleep / wakefulness issues.
Interesting. I tried this drug before, and I wasn’t super impressed. I mean, it had its uses. To me, it was like drinking a strong cup of coffee except the caffeine buzz lasts twelve hours instead of four. So it was helpful when I wanted to stay up late or when I didn’t get enough sleep the night before and wanted to stay up during the work day. I certainly didn’t notice much brain boosting, except to the extent of not being dead tired while trying to do work that requires thinking. I’ve never done adderall or ritalin, but I suspect they have a much higher kick than modafinil. Of course, they’re a lot harder to obtain, legally or otherwise.