Citation: Greedo. "A Student's Take: experience with Modafinil (Provigil) (ID 70791)". Erowid.org. Jul 11, 2008. erowid.org/exp/70791
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I've been using modafinil for about half a year now. I got it over the summer from an online pharamacy in 'modapro' form, and it seemed to work pretty well---but it was summer, so it wasn't really a great test. Thus my experience report will focus on my most recent experiences, ever since I obtained a prescription for Provigil about four months ago. As background: 19-year-old college student, never taken any illegal drugs (or alcohol or tobacco), but I am on the SSRI antidepressant Zoloft for legitimate reasons, and I don't mess with the dosage.
Basically, Provigil works, and it works amazingly. I haven't experienced any 'highs' or any significant cognitive or focus enhancements while on Provigil, but I _have_ experienced the advertised effect: a lack of sleepiness.
And it's important to understand this point. Provigil isn't like caffeine; it does not keep me awake. Instead, it _suppresses sleepiness_. Just half an hour ago, I was yawning every few minutes, and crawling into bed looked like such a good idea. Maybe just an hour, or four hours, I'd still have time to finish this homework set before it's due in eight hours, right? Well, we all know how that goes: I end up oversleeping, usually, and even if you don't the sleep won't be as beneficial as you might hope. And besides, it'd be much nicer to stay up and finish the work now, then sleep _after it's done and turned in_, than to sleep now and hope that I budgeted my time right for finishing it before it's due.
So, of course, I popped a Provigil. Just a single 200 mg tablet. It didn't take effect instantaneously; that this was going to be the case has definitely become clear to me over the course of my usage. But after about 30 minutes, all of that tiredness is gone---completely. No yawning; no eyes closing; and most importantly, _no desire to crawl into bed_. It's the mental aspect of Provigil that is so miraculous, and goes far beyond anything caffeine or other 'energy' supplements/drinks/etc. can do for me.
But note that I _could_ still go to sleep, completely without a problem. I'm not hyper, like with caffeine; there's nothing preventing me from just sleeping. In fact I sometimes even take Provigil _right before_ sleeping; more on that later. But the point is that, from a subjective point of view, _all_ that Provigil messes with is _how sleepy I feel_.
So that's the basic idea. Here are a few more things I've noticed:
That 30-minute lead time can be quite important. If I think I might fall asleep in my class (for whatever reason), I take it (at least) 30 minutes _before_ the class, not once my eyelids first start drooping. Similarly, it wears off. 4 hours seems like a good estimate. So if I'm planning on staying up for long, consecutive periods, then I try to take a new one every 3.5 hours---because that 30-minute lead time can be dangerous, especially in terms of giving in to any sudden mental cravings for sleepy-time.
It doesn't fix the _drop in mental functioning_ due to lack of sleep. So, if I'm using Provigil because my sleep cycle is off and my body/brain wants to go to sleep after only 8 hours of being awake, then I'm fine; I'll be unsleepy and functioning just like I normally would. But if I'm using Provigil to stay awake for 48 hours---which is doable, for sure---then I'm not at the top of my mental game after the 20th hour or so. This'll be noticable: even though I might not feel tired, I might not be able to do simple math problems, or I might start acting a bit strangely in social situations. And of course my _body_ might have all the 'tired' symptoms, e.g. tight muscles or the overall low-level ache that nudges me away from simple things like walking.
But speaking of using it to stay up for long times, that definitely works. I've personally used it to stay up for at least 48 hours, and very recently I used it to accomplish a 72 hour period with only 6 hours of sleep (in a single block). Certainly I wasn't doing any homework, but it was fun, and I was able to get a lot of other less mentally-demanding things done. For me, the limit is that at some point my mental functioning starts getting a bit 'fragmented,' so that I'm making too many connections between completely separate things, and I'm almost entirely unable to focus on anything even slightly complex. But what's nice is that I don't 'crash' after such a session: at most, I'll sleep for 12 hours (without an alarm!), and usually (possibly with an alarm) 8 will suffice. Very cool.
I can also take Provigil before sleep. This doesn't prevent me from sleeping, and it won't really cut short my sleep, but usually it will make waking up easier (especially if I'm targeting a short-ish nap). My hypothesis is that the Provigil stays in my system for 4 hours or so, and then if my alarm goes off during this time, my usual tiredness-upon-waking won't be able to affect me. I might still go back to sleep if I just sit back and relax, but I won't have the feeling of complete grogginess that convinces me that I really have to to sleep for a few more hours. But this isn't foolproof; there's a lot of stuff going on in the brain during the sleep/wakeup process, so it's important to just think of Provigil as an aid toward waking up, and not depend on it.
I haven't experimented with dosages much. Sometimes I try taking 100 mg (instead of 200), but I haven't done this enough times to really talk about any difference. More often I've tried taking 400 mg, but this really doesn't seem to have any more effect than 200.
Finally, how do I use Provigil? I use it for a few things:
Most often, I want to get homework done, but I've procrastinated or socialized enough that it's midnight and the homework is due mid-tomorrow. I'll lock myself in my room, start working, and take Provigil at the first sign of tiredness; repeat every 3.5 hours, and when everything's done, I might go to sleep. Usually I'm still able to function well enough to get things all done, even if I've been up most of the day.
This segues into my next use of Provigil: to fix a sleep cycle. If I've just finished a homework at 8:00 in the morning, it might be a good idea to head out for my morning exercise, for breakfast, and then maybe go to classes today. This will all be a much easier process if I have some Provigil every few hours (especially before classes). The alternative is sleeping from 8:00 through (say) 14:00, which will be pretty weird, especially since it will cascade and affect my sleep cycle for the next few days as well. With Provigil I can instead go to sleep at a reasonable time (say midnight, or perhaps a few hours before).
And then, there's 'recreational use.' This is just taking Provigil when I'd rather do something fun---be it hanging out with friends, playing computer games, watching a movie, or whatever. This is what usually spurs on sessions greater than 24 hours. And it works great there, too.
So, in summary: Provigil is a wonder drug. It's not a 'cure' for sleep, but it _is_ a cure for sleepiness, and very often that's all I need.
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