Modafinil and Caffeine: Is Modafinil better than Caffeine?

Modafinil and Caffeine: Is Modafinil better than Caffeine?


One of world’s smartest drugs, but you can’t use it!

We all have been there- Making dawn-to-dusk trips to library, pulling all-nighters and cramming for deadlines: exam periods and dissertation deadlines demand a great amount of energy.In such conditions, caffeine has been a motivational enforcer for most of us. But, according to a study,25% of undergraduates have also admitted of using smart drugs at some point during their studies.

You know this one: The Smart Drug or The Limitless Pill that turns young professionals and sleep-deprived college students into energetic work horses – Modafinil.

It was developed by a French Professor to treat sleep disorders such as narcolepsy in 1970s and have been used by military, physicians, and astronauts. A Modafinil dose is about as strong as 600 mg of Caffeineand is given 1 hour prior to shift of patients of SWSD (Shift Work Sleep Disorder). For other diseases like narcolepsy, it is given once in morning.

Since its inception, there have been several comparisons, experiments, and studies on effectiveness of Modafinilwith respect to Caffeine. Let’s look through findings of these researches and see whether‘Modafinil is better than Caffeine?’

The Sleep Deprivation Experiment

An experiment was conducted in order to find out whether

  1. Modafinil should replace caffeine for restoring alertness and performance
  2. Modafinil and Caffeine reverse fatigue effects

during total sleep deprivation in young and healthy adults.

How was experiment conducted?

  • 50 young and healthy adults remained awake from 6:30 AM on day 1 to 1 PM on day 3 (Approximately 54.5 Hours).
  • They were administeredbi-hourly from 8 AM on day 1 to 10 PM on day 2.
  • After being awake for straight 41.5 Hours (Approximately 11:55 PM on day 2), subjects received double-blind administration of one of following 5 doses:
  1. Placebo
  2. 100 mg of Modafinil
  3. 200 mg of Modafinil
  4. 400 mg of Modafiniland
  5. Caffeine 600 mg
  • This was followed by hourly testing from midnight on day 1 to 12 PM on Day 3.

Read our article on Provigil and how it works here

Results of Experiment

  • Alertness and performance were significantly improved by 200 mg of Modafinil, 400 mg of Modafinil, and Caffeine 600 mg. These effects were better as compared to Placebo.
  • Differences between several doses of modafinil were not significant.
  • From 6 AM to 10 AM (Circadian Nadir), performance-enhancing effects and fatigue effects were most salient.
  • Some instances of heart-pounding and nausea (adverse subjective side effects) were also reported.
  • A fatigue effect was exacerbated by circadian rhythmicity and sleep deprivation. It was maximal after 24-28 hours of sleep deprivation.
  • 400 mg of Modafinil and Caffeine 600 mg attenuated comparable fatigue.
  • 200 mg of Modafinil reversed fatigue for a short duration of 3 minutes.
  • 400 mg of Modafinil and Caffeine 600 mg reversed fatigue for durations of 8 minutes and 6 minutes respectively.

Conclusion of Experiment

  • Modafinil and Caffeine maintained alertness and performance during early morning hours i.e. equivalent alertness andperformance-enhancing effects were obtained from both Modafinil and Caffeine.
  • However, Modafinil didn’t offermany advantages over Caffeine for improving alertness and performance during sleep loss in these young and healthy adults.
  • During sleep deprivation, Time-on-task effects contributed to performance degradation.
  • Time-on-task effects were reversed by appropriate doses of Modafinil and Caffeine.
  • The duration of efficacy at lower drug dosages was shorter for reversing time-on-task effects. Thereforelower drug dosages must be used during sustained operations.


  1. Modafinil and Caffeine
  2. Methylphenidate
  3. Sleep
  4. Physical exercise

The above were tested for their effects on improving brain function in a joint study by Lucius Caviola and Nadira Faber from Oxford University.

Results of Study

  • Study Drugs such as Modafinil and Caffeine can improve creativity and long-term memory just as regular exercise and sleep.
  • Modafinil was found to help concentration more than memory i.e. if you want to revise for an exam, then Modafinil can be of no use but if you are struggling to cram an essay, Modafinil might work!
  • The effectiveness of Modafinil depended on individual whereas frequent naps and exercises were found to increase cognitive stimulation in all cases.

Conclusion of Study

  • Coffee and sleep are rather more effective on our brains, rather than taking Modafinil.
  • Students are probably better off investing in sleep (a natural form of cognitive stimulation) rather than taking Modafinil.


Modafinil is not for everyone as this limitless drug has its side effects like stomach aches or headaches. It has been successfully used in cocaine treatment, but there aren’t enough long-term safety studies in healthy people with this smart drug.Moreover, Caffeine is way less expensive and more readily available as compared to Modafinil.

Also, Modafinilstill classifies as a Schedule IV controlled substance in America, so you can’t use them if you reside in the United States. However, countries like India, Canada, UK, Australia, Germany, and Mexico have approved modafinil as a non-controlled prescription drug.

But not all is bad. Modafinil is much, much safer and wholly beneficial to use than Caffeine and it can work as a godsend for you, if you need it for your addiction treatment. Also, it can make up for cognitive deficits induced by overwork, and for people who are unable to adjust their lifestyles to accommodate more exercise and sleep.

Therefore, which one to choose, is completely in your hands!!

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