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Provigil Alternatives

Last Updated on December 13, 2023 by Carol Gillette

Alternative to Meds Editorial Team
Medically Reviewed by Dr Samuel Lee MD

Did you know that there are Provigil alternatives that can restore mental health, clarity, and vibrancy naturally?

Wakefulness-promoting medications like Provigil may have served a purpose temporarily during a time of real need. However, Provigil alternatives could offer more beneficial results without the potential liabilities and limited workability that often accompany pharmaceutical products.

Do Your Symptoms Require Provigil?

successful provigil alternatives
Alternative to Meds has been the expert on antidepressant alternatives for over 15 years. We have published evidence regarding our clients’ tremendous success. Underlying issues can and should be exhaustively searched out and treated before resorting to prescription drugs. We find quite often that certain medical conditions were overlooked, or that the factors that contributed to the crisis situation, as in day-time sleepiness, were never investigated. Provigil is associated with off-label use which can result in psychosis or other critical outcomes. It is not at all unusual for a doctor to misdiagnose a patient prematurely due to critical omissions in pre-treatment testing.
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What Is Provigil Used For?

Commonly, relatively healthy people whose job entails shift work rely on the drug to help them stay alert. People whose work or school demands extended waking hours leading to sleep deprivation such as pilots, combat soldiers, students cramming for exams, and truck drivers may take Provigil to stay awake.

However, the drug is FDA approved for combating daytime sleepiness in chronic health conditions such as narcolepsy, sleep apnea, and shift workers who suffer from sleep deprivation.

Provigil Alternatives

There is a significantly large percentage of the population who would prefer taking natural and herbal supplements instead of prescription drugs when dealing with chronic fatigue and daytime sleepiness. Some herbal or natural remedies have proven neuro-stimulant effects, but they also carry some safety concerns, such as ephedra and even too much caffeine can be a cause for concern.9-11

The following list of Provigil alternatives is followed by an expanded description for each strategy.

Provigil alternatives include:
  • holistic evidence-based alternatives to antidepressantsWork on improving your dark-light cycles.
  • Improve bedding and sleeping environment.
  • Supplements
  • Dietary choices that help with natural tryptophan production.
  • Avoid stimulants such as caffeine, especially close to bedtime.
  • Correct deficiencies that may be contributing to disrupted sleep and low energy.
  • Support gut microbiome health.
  • Test for and eliminate bioaccumulation of toxins.

Safe, effective alternatives to Provigil for daytime sleepiness:

  • Improve your sleep by improving your dark-light cycles. Providing enough “dark time” is profoundly important in improving sleep, far more impactful on the quality of sleep than changes in diet. (Diet/nutrition is also extremely important — see more on diet below). Take an inventory of your sleeping area and remove or block electrical and blue light devices, as these can lead to suppression of sleep hormones at night. If needed, use amber-colored blue-light blocking glasses for a few hours before bedtime to reduce the neurostimulation effects of light and other devices in your environment.12,13
  • Ensure your bedding, pillows, mattress, room ventilation, and temperature are suitable for comfortable, restful sleep. Light-blocking and noise-reducing curtains or other insulations are recommended.14
  • Supplementation includes many options. Melatonin is known to synchronize circadian (sleep) cycles. Can be taken in supplement form. It is produced in the pituitary gland and a diet that supports the natural production of this hormone would include tart cherries or tart cherry juice, eggs, milk, fish, a variety of fruits, grains, and vegetables, particularly tomatoes, grapes, olives, olive oil, rice, walnuts, and barley are very high in melatonin or its precursor, tryptophan.13
  • Improve the diet. V-8 juice, eggs, and milk are all high in tryptophan.15
  • Avoid caffeine sources before retiring — caffeine can suppress melatonin.11
  • A deficiency in folate, zinc, magnesium and other nutrients and micronutrients can suppress melatonin production. Get tested, and correct these and other deficiencies if they are present.13
  • Maintain a healthy gut microbiome. A healthy gut supports the hormones and energy cycles that regulate sleep. Dysbiosis (out of balance bacteria) in the gut sets you up for fragmented, poor-quality sleep and dragged-out days. Prebiotics and probiotics in foods and supplemental forms along with a healthy, sugar-free diet can dramatically put things right.17
  • Lab testing can show accumulations of neurotoxins that can be overstimulating, and disruptive to normal hormonal balance. Avoid products containing toxic chemicals in the home, at work, in body care products, and in cleaning supplies. Cleansing out the build-up of these from the body can help hormones to begin functioning at their optimal levels again. Clearing these neurotoxic accumulations can actually brighten cognitive function and memory as well, making daytime energy and a brighter outlook much more present naturally. Bio-absorption of nutrients also improves markedly when toxins are removed as toxins block nutrient uptake. Cleansing neurotoxins can set up a wonderfully positive, ongoing feedback loop, as deep sleep actually helps to clear toxins from the brain according to research by NIH.18-21

Provigil — Important Facts

Provigil (generic name modafinil) is a wakefulness-promoting drug, and like virtually all pharmaceutical products, the exact mechanism of how it works in the brain and CNS is not known.1 According to the FDA label, modafinil (Provigil) appears not to strongly bind to the usual receptors involved in sleep/wake cycles, such as the norepinephrine, serotonin, dopamine, GABA, adenosine, melatonin, benzodiazepine, and histamine receptors. sleep deprived provigilHowever, Madras et al published research in 2006 that reports modafinil does appear to bind to certain dopamine and norepinephrine receptors in certain areas of the brain, citing animal and in vivo studies.3 While generally not known for a high risk of addiction, Madras’s research shows Provigil may share similar neurochemical characteristics with other stimulants, such as amphetamines and cocaine which do bind to such receptors.

Provigil use, like any psychostimulant drug, is subject to abuse and addiction. Provigil can produce stimulating effects and euphoria, changes in mood, and changes in thinking that are in some ways similar to other anti-fatigue stimulants such as amphetamines, and cocaine. For these reasons, some people may begin to use it habitually to obtain a brightened cognitive state. In animal clinical trials, monkeys were found to self-administer Provigil in a similar pattern to how they self-administered cocaine.2

Provigil was FDA approved for chronic daytime sleepiness associated with narcolepsy, for people who work shift work, and for sleep apnea-related daytime sleepiness. However, off-label uses have developed such as to counteract the sedative effects of psychiatric medications and to enhance concentration while studying. Using Provigil as a cognitive “enhancer” is highly controversial, as it has been associated with psychosis in otherwise healthy individuals, at both high doses and at low doses.5,6,7

Provigil taken randomly to counteract sleepiness can cause sleep disturbances and trouble with focusing later, as in driving a car for example, according to a published review of the literature in the National Library of Medicine.16 Despite much ongoing research, and much eagerness to use Provigil for a laundry list of off-label uses, everything from combat fatigue to studying for an exam, the drug’s exact action on the highly complex brain remains elusive at best and indicates we should remain cautious about relying on psychostimulant drugs for staying awake. Provigil alternatives are designed to be a much safer, more predictable way to address issues regarding sleep.4,23

Provigil Side Effects

provigil side effects The most common Provigil side effects are euphoria, headache, nervousness, and depression. Repeated use can lead to an impaired immune system, sleep disturbance, anxiety, jitteriness, psychiatric symptoms, and addiction.4,23

Of concern, there are multiple case reports of psychosis, hallucinations, paranoid delusions and other undesirable features of drug-induced psychosis at various dosage levels.6,7

Provigil can cause another rare but troubling side effect — Stevens-Johnson Syndrome, or “SJS,” which is a quickly developing rash or allergic-type reaction to the drug. Important to know, the condition can quickly escalate into a potentially life-threatening severe skin reaction.1,8

Also, the drug caused a decreased effectiveness in certain types of contraceptives where a woman takes Provigil concurrently. Though rare, the drug manufacturer placed warnings on drug packaging to bring awareness of these potential side effects.1

As noted in the FDA label information, Provigil can also over-stimulate the heart, so is not recommended for people with heart conditions.1

Potential Harm from Chronic Sleep Deprivation

provigil insomnia sleep deprivationChronic sleep deprivation can cause a debilitating cascade of negative physical and mental health effects. Besides the frustration of never feeling fully rested, sleep deprivation is so destructive that it is used inhumanely as a form of torture for the purpose of interrogation (though ineffective at data retrieval).22

The neurocognitive effects of sleep deprivation have been the subject of much clinical research. We understand that over time one can even adapt to a constant feeling of fatigue and poor performance because of continual poor quality sleep. It is estimated that up to 30% of the global population suffers from some degree of chronic insomnia, meaning that daytime sleepiness is a symptom of poor or disrupted sleep. It’s a big problem for a lot of people.24 However, the pharmacological “solutions” that are offered are just not acceptable for many due to the side effects and the fact that they do not fix the problem. Duct tape might temporarily fix a leaky pipe, but eventually, if you don’t get to the root of the problem, that leaky pipe is going to cascade into bigger problems.

Chronic sleep deprivation can be addressed, even if it means rolling up one’s sleeves and getting to work using Provigil alternatives. We can help.

Are you looking for a healthier set of Provigil alternatives?

healthier provigil alternatives sedona drug rehabAlternative to Meds Center provides sound strategies that guide clients safely toward their highest health goals. An investigative, pro-active approach can find the root causes, and help repair the negative impacts that drugs may have brought about. Alternative to Meds Center has developed non-drug-based remedies and uses lab tests to uncover the underlying causes for insomnia and other troubling symptoms. Sometimes, there are underlying but undiagnosed medical reasons that contribute to the problem, making it persist. Addressing environmental stress, personal counseling to assist with the effects of unresolved life situations, or difficult relationships, removal of toxic accumulations, malnutrition (not as uncommon as you might think), comfortable withdrawal techniques, spa services, Qi Gong, yoga, IV & Nad therapy, and other adjunctive therapies that have achieved positive results according to our clients. For more information, please contact us at Alternative to Meds Center and find out more about our effective, non-drug-based Provigil alternatives and inpatient treatment programs for eliminating symptoms that are blocking your natural mental health.

1. FDA Provigil Information and Approval Labeling 1998 Dec [cited 2022 July 29]

2. Newman JL, Negus SS, Lozama A, Prisinzano TE, Mello NK. Behavioral evaluation of modafinil and the abuse-related effects of cocaine in rhesus monkeys. Exp Clin Psychopharmacol. 2010 Oct;18(5):395-408. doi: 10.1037/a0021042. PMID: 20939643; PMCID: PMC3079571. [cited 2022 July 29]

3. Madras BK, Xie Z, Lin Z, Fischman J, “Modafinil occupancy of the DAT in monkey striatum (left) or NET in monkey thalamus.”  Researchgate  Nov 2006 [cited 2022 July 29]

4. Gerrard P, Malcolm R. Mechanisms of modafinil: A review of current researchNeuropsychiatr Dis Treat. 2007;3(3):349-364. [cited 2022 July 29]

5. Teitelman D, “Off-label Uses of Modafinil.”  The Letter to the Editor (Am J Psychiatry 2001; 158:970–971) [cited 2022 July 29]

6. Aytaş Ö, Dilek Yalvaç H. Modafinil-Induced Psychosis: A Case Report. Noro Psikiyatr Ars. 2015 Mar;52(1):99-101. doi: 10.5152/npa.2015.7160. Epub 2015 Mar 1. PMID: 28360685; PMCID: PMC5353011. [cited 2022 July 29]

7. DiSciullo AA, English CD, Horn WT. Modafinil Induced Psychosis in a Patient with Bipolar 1 Depression. Case Rep Psychiatry. 2018 Oct 17;2018:3732958. doi: 10.1155/2018/3732958. PMID: 30416836; PMCID: PMC6207879.[cited 2022 July 29]

8. Holfinger S, Roy A, Schmidt M. Stevens-Johnson Syndrome After Armodafinil UseJ Clin Sleep Med. 2018;14(5):885-887. Published 2018 May 15. doi:10.5664/jcsm.7132 [cited 2022 July 29]

9. Gyllenhaal C, Merritt SL, Peterson SD, Block KI, Gochenour T. Efficacy and safety of herbal stimulants and sedatives in sleep disorders. Sleep Med Rev. 2000 Jun;4(3):229-251. doi: 10.1053/smrv.1999.0093. PMID: 12531167.[cited 2022 July 29]

10. Powers ME. Ephedra and its application to sport performance: another concern for the athletic trainer?J Athl Train. 2001;36(4):420-424.[cited 2022 July 29]

11. Jahrami H, Al-Mutarid M, Penson PE, Al-Islam Faris M, Saif Z, Hammad L. Intake of Caffeine and Its Association with Physical and Mental Health Status among University Students in BahrainFoods. 2020;9(4):473. Published 2020 Apr 10. doi:10.3390/foods9040473 [cited 2022 July 29]

12. Shechter A, Kim EW, St-Onge MP, Westwood AJ. Blocking nocturnal blue light for insomnia: A randomized controlled trialJ Psychiatr Res. 2018;96:196-202. doi:10.1016/j.jpsychires.2017.10.015 [cited 2022 July 29]

13. Peuhkuri K, Sihvola N, Korpela R. Dietary factors and fluctuating levels of melatoninFood Nutr Res. 2012;56:10.3402/fnr.v56i0.17252. doi:10.3402/fnr.v56i0.17252 [cited 2022 July 29]

14. Okamoto-Mizuno K, Mizuno K. Effects of thermal environment on sleep and circadian rhythmJ Physiol Anthropol. 2012;31(1):14. Published 2012 May 31. doi:10.1186/1880-6805-31-14 [cited 2022 July 29]

15. Friedman M. Analysis, Nutrition, and Health Benefits of Tryptophan. Int J Tryptophan Res. 2018;11:1178646918802282. Published 2018 Sep 26. doi:10.1177/1178646918802282 [cited 2022 July 29]

16. Kumar R. Approved and investigational uses of modafinil : an evidence-based review. Drugs. 2008;68(13):1803-39. doi: 10.2165/00003495-200868130-00003. PMID: 18729534. [cited 2022 July 29]

17. Matenchuk BA, Mandhane PJ, Kozyrskyj AL. Sleep, circadian rhythm, and gut microbiota. Sleep Med Rev. 2020 Oct;53:101340. doi: 10.1016/j.smrv.2020.101340. Epub 2020 May 13. PMID: 32668369. [cited 2022 July 29]

18. Eugene AR, Masiak J. The Neuroprotective Aspects of SleepMEDtube Sci. 2015;3(1):35-40. [cited 2022 July 29]

19. NIH authors, “How Sleep Clears the Brain.” Oct 28, 2013 [cited 2022 July 29]

20. Liu J, Liu X, Pak V, et al. Early Blood Lead Levels and Sleep Disturbance in Preadolescence. Sleep. 2015;38(12):1869-1874. Published 2015 Dec 1. doi:10.5665/sleep.5230 [cited 2022 July 29]

21. Dufault R, Schnoll R, Lukiw WJ, et al. Mercury exposure, nutritional deficiencies and metabolic disruptions may affect learning in children [published correction appears in Behav Brain Funct. 2018 Feb 7;14 (1):3]. Behav Brain Funct. 2009;5:44. Published 2009 Oct 27. doi:10.1186/1744-9081-5-44  [cited 2022 July 29]

22. Sehwail M, Pérez-Sales P, Rasras K, Sehwail W, Guasch A, Galan A. Sleep deprivation does not work: Epidemiology, impacts and outcomes of incidental and systematic sleep deprivation in a sample of Palestinian detainees. Torture. 2019;29(2):56-69. doi: 10.7146/torture.v29i2.115381. PMID: 31670704.[cited 2022 July 29]

23. Kim D. Practical use and risk of modafinil, a novel waking drug. Environ Health Toxicol. 2012;27:e2012007. doi:10.5620/eht.2012.27.e2012007 [cited 2022 July 29]

24. Durmer JS, Dinges DF. Neurocognitive consequences of sleep deprivation. Semin Neurol. 2005 Mar;25(1):117-29. doi: 10.1055/s-2005-867080. PMID: 15798944. [cited 2022 July 29]

25. Roth T. Insomnia: definition, prevalence, etiology, and consequencesJ Clin Sleep Med. 2007;3(5 Suppl):S7-S10 .[cited 2022 July 29]

Originally Published Mar 23, 2020 by Diane Ridaeus

This content has been reviewed and approved by a licensed physician.

Dr. Samuel Lee

Dr. Samuel Lee is a board-certified psychiatrist, specializing in a spiritually-based mental health discipline and integrative approaches. He graduated with an MD at Loma Linda University School of Medicine and did a residency in psychiatry at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle. He has also been an inpatient adult psychiatrist at Kaweah Delta Mental Health Hospital and the primary attending geriatric psychiatrist at the Auerbach Inpatient Psychiatric Jewish Home Hospital. In addition, he served as the general adult outpatient psychiatrist at Kaiser Permanente.  He is board-certified in psychiatry and neurology and has a B.A. Magna Cum Laude in Religion from Pacific Union College. His specialty is in natural healing techniques that promote the body’s innate ability to heal itself.

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Nothing on this Website is intended to be taken as medical advice. The information provided on the website is intended to encourage, not replace, direct patient-health professional relationships. Always consult with your doctor before altering your medications. Adding nutritional supplements may alter the effect of medication. Any medication changes should be done only after proper evaluation and under medical supervision.

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