Modafinil VS Adderall

Modafinil and Adderall are stimulants that can help address problems like fatigue, sleep, etc. When choosing a stimulant to help you feel awake and focused, many people often struggle to choose between Modafinil and Adderall.

While they have similar benefits, Modafinil and Adderall work differently and have different side effects. Modafinil is usually better, but both are normally safe to take.

Adderall VS Modafinil

Modafinil and Adderall are psychostimulants that can help treat excessive sleepiness from issues like narcolepsy.

While they can treat similar problems, these two drugs are not the same. Many people assume that they can take either drug and be fine, but that is not always the case.

They work; differently, they have different chemistry, and they have different side effects. Additionally, they can vary in legality and whether you can purchase them online.


Modafinil can enhance wakefulness. It is commonly known as its brand name “Provigil” in the US.

Doctors often prescribe Modafinil to patients that suffer from sleep disorders. Typically, these sleep disorders cause excessive sleepiness throughout the day. Some common sleep disorders Modafinil can treat include narcolepsy, shift work sleep disorder (often found in people who work night shifts), and obstructive sleep apnea.

It can be an effective way to help with issues like ADHD, major depressive disorder, etc. However, these are considered “off-label” uses for Modafinil, so it is not commonly given to patients.

It is not clear how Modafinil works exactly. Most people believe that it has indirect functions that lead to its benefits, such as:

  • Increasing the action of dopamine by inhibiting the reuptake of dopamine in your nervous system’s synapses.
  • Upregulate neurotransmitters like serotonin.


As stated earlier, Modafinil can help treat sleep disorders like narcolepsy and obstructive sleep apnea. It helps fight fatigue and excessive sleepiness while helping you feel more alert and awake.

Most people note that they feel awake for 10-15 hours when they take it. It would be best to take Modafinil in the morning so you can sleep at night since the effects last for a long time.

Another bonus is that you will not feel jittery; it creates a sustained and calm focus. It does not give you the typical jitters found in other stimulants like caffeine or Adderall.

Other than helping you be awake, it is also popular because it helps enhance your mood. Many people state that they feel like they have steadier moods. However, it is essential to note that mood swings are a common side effect of taking Modafinil (particularly in excess or high amounts).

Another interesting bonus of Modafinil is its memory-enhancing effects. Some people use Modafinil to treat memory loss from conditions like dementia (Kim et al., 2012).

It can also heighten your focus. That is why Modafinil is popular with students; it can enhance your memory and sharpen your focus to help you study.

According to one study, people who took Modafinil regularly had more perceived benefits than perceived risks (Teodorini et al., 2020). However, it is worth noting that the people who said they were taking it were doing so without a prescription.

Modafinil has a low potential for addiction. However, that does not mean someone cannot abuse it.

Some people take very high doses because they believe they need it for situations like a work meeting or to cram for an exam. However, you should not take Modafinil if you think you cannot function without it. It should enhance your performance; you should not rely on it.


Some common side effects that Modafinil can induce (especially with regular use or high doses):

  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Nervousness
  • Dizziness
  • Mood swings
  • No appetite
  • Hypertension

Most people take Modafinil to treat excessive sleepiness. However, it can make it difficult for you to go to sleep, especially if you take it late in the day or you take too much.

There are not many studies that suggest any long-term side effects. However, some research states that Modafinil is associated with greater anxiety (Hofmann et al., 2012).


Adderall is the brand name that is a mixture of four different amphetamine salts. It was initially a weight-loss drug back in the ’70s, but it did not work. It got reformulated to be the stimulant that we know and love today.

Adderall upregulates norepinephrine and dopamine. Adderall also stimulates a larger release of neurotransmitters and hormones like histamine and epinephrine.


Adderall is best known for treating ADHD. Similar to Modafinil, it can also treat sleep disorders like narcolepsy.

Adderall reduces fatigue while increasing perceived energy levels. It also dramatically sharpens focus on a task for a long time since Adderall is mainly for people with ADHD.

Some people also state that Adderall can enhance their memory. However, that does not happen for everyone, and enhanced memory is more for people who take Modafinil.


Some common side effects that Adderall can cause are:

  • Weight loss
  • Stomach pain
  • Dry mouth
  • Headache
  • Dizziness

Some other less common but serious side effects are:

  • Allergic reactions
  • Hallucinations
  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Fainting
  • Diarrhea
  • Confusion
  • Blurred vision

If you experience any serious side effects, it is crucial to speak to your doctor right away.

The risk for addiction is low if you take the low prescribed daily doses given to you by a professional. However, you can easily get addicted to it if you take high doses.

Which One Should I Take?

Ideally, it would help if you always spoke to a medical professional before taking a prescription drug.

While these stimulants are generally safe to take, they may not be ideal for people with underlying conditions. For instance, people with high blood pressure should not take Modafinil. People with severe anxiety, major depression, glaucoma, etc., should not take Adderall.

Many people may not realize that they have those conditions, such as high blood pressure. Therefore, asking your doctor first would be ideal for preventing the worsening of your condition.

Generally, Modafinil is better for most people to take than Adderall. Modafinil has more manageable side effects that you could avoid by:

  • Staying hydrated to prevent headaches.
  • Taking it in the morning.
  • Eating large meals in the morning and at night to prevent stomach pain.

While Modafinil is not as potent as Adderall, that may be the best thing about it. Many people find Adderall to be too strong, especially if they want something to help boost them, not push them.

Some people note that they feel like they have a “hangover” in the morning after they take Adderall. While it can be more “potent,” it may not be worth it because of the harsh side effects.

Another huge thing to note is that the risk of addiction for Modafinil is much lower than Adderall, given that you do not rely on Modafinil to function or do tasks.

How Much Should I Take?

How much Modafinil or Adderall you should take will greatly depend on you and your doctor. Everyone is different, so you cannot rely on how much another person takes to learn how much you should take.

Typically, most people take 100-200 mg of Modafinil. Adderall dosages vary from 5-60 mg, and it can get split between doses throughout the day.

There are no cases of Modafinil overdose. However, taking more than prescribed amounts can lead to very uncomfortable side effects.

The amount of Adderall that would be bad for a person to take would depend on their weight, health status, etc. For instance, a person who weighs 154 pounds should never take 1.4 grams of Adderall because that is a deadly dose.

There are sporadic cases where people passed away from an Adderall overdose. It is important to note that those people had underlying heart conditions. It would be best not to take more of either of these than prescribed.

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