Adrafinil boosts energy levels during times of fatigue and sleep deprivation and may have related cognitive benefits.
Adrafinil is a widely popular nootropic supplement known for suppressing sleepiness. Adrafinil may help boost energy by:
- Reducing fatigue. Adrafinil has been consistently demonstrated to reduce sleepiness and fatigue.
- Improving mood and cognition. Adrafinil can improve mood, motivation, attention, and other aspects of cognition, but these benefits have less research backing.
First discovered in France in 1974, adrafinil is a synthenic nootropic compound best known for reducing fatigue and promoting wakefulness and alertness. When ingested, the liver turns adrafinil into modafinil – its better known, biologically-active form. However, because modafinil is only available by prescription in most countries, many people choose to buy adrafinil instead, which is legal to purchase and use.
In medicine, modafinil is mostly used to help reduce fatigue and sleepiness seen in insomnia and other sleep disorders. However, it is also being increasingly used to help with fatigue that characterizes a wide range of illnesses, including multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, and depression.
As a supplement, adrafinil (and by extent modafinil) is one of the most popular nootropics, used to help increase energy during times of fatigue, such as when studying for an exam or working long hours. There is also some evidence that adrafinil can improve memory, mood, and other aspects of cognitive function.
There are three main differences between adrafinil and modafinil:
- Adrafinil first has to be to turned into modafinil by the liver
- Adrafinil takes longer to take effect (up to 1 hour or more)
- Adrafinil converts into modafinil at a 3:1 ratio (e.g. 300 mg adrafinil is equivalent to 100 mg modafinil)
How Adrafinil Might Help With Energy
Dopamine and noradrenaline reuptake inhibition
Modafinil has been shown to block the reuptake of the neurotransmitters dopamine and noradrenaline by binding to their transporters, resulting in the elevation of their concentrations. In addition, this bio-activity appears to raise the concentrations of several other brain chemicals, including serotonin, glutamate, histamine, and orexin, while decreasing levels of GABA, a calming neurotransmitter that reduces neuron activity. 1
Adrafinil Uses Benefits for Energy
As an energy booster, adrafinil is popular with healthy individuals seeking to reduce fatigue and sleepiness from working long hours and not getting enough sleep, such as students, working professionals, and night shift workers. Indeed, there is a good deal of research evidence to back adrafinil’s fatigue and sleepiness-suppressing effects. In addition, modafinil is also increasingly used by doctors to reduce chronic fatigue or sleepiness associated with conditions such as:
Finally, adrafinil might also be capable of boosting several aspects of cognition that are related to feeling energized, such as attentiveness, mood, and motivation. However, the research evidence for these benefits is not yet conclusive.
Because modafinil has largely replaced adrafinil in clinical practice, and given that adrafinil metabolizes into modafinil, most studies focus on modafinil. Research findings are overwhelmingly positive and suggest that modafinil – and by extent adrafinil – are potent fatigue-fighting nootropics.
This randomized, double-blind study aimed to evaluate the cognitive enhancing potential modafinil. Researchers gave 60 healthy, young adult male volunteers a single dose of 100 mg or 200mg modafinil or placebo. Volunteers then performed a variety of psychological tasks designed to test memory and attention. Those given modafinil reported feeling more energized, awake, and attentive, and their performance on cognition tests was improved.
- The researchers concluded that “modafinil selectively improves neuropsychological task performance”6
In this randomized, double-blind study, 18 healthy adults were given placebo or modafinil (4 mg/kg body weight, 300 mg on average) and performed three 50-minute-long cognitive tests; one before supplementation, and two after. Compared to placebo, modafinil significantly improved feelings of fatigue, motivation, reaction time, and vigilance during the latter tests.
- The researchers concluded that “results were uniformly positive with respect to subjective assessments of fatigue, motivation and cognitive performance“7
This randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial looked at the use of modafinil for reducing fatigue and sleepiness in people with depression. A total of 136 people with clinical depression were given placebo or modafinil (100 – 400 mg) daily for 6 weeks, alongside their antidepressant. Modafinil was found to quickly improve both fatigue and wakefulness in the daytime.
- The researchers concluded that “Modafinil may be a useful adjunct therapy for the short-term management of residual fatigue and sleepiness in patients who are partial responders to antidepressant therapy.”8
This double-blind, randomized trial compared the effects of modafinil to dextroamphetamine, a powerful stimulant. Eleven people were given placebo, modafinil (1.75 mg/kg, 3.50 mg/kg, or 7.00 mg/kg), or d-amphetamine (0.035 mg/kg, 0.070 mg/kg, 0.140 mg/kg). The study found that modafinil improved ratings of vigor and mood, reduced the feeling of sleepiness, and enhanced performance on several cognition tests.
- The researchers concluded that “modafinil engenders alerting effects and increases performance in healthy non-sleep-deprived individuals comparable with that of d-amphetamine“9
Dosage for Energy
- Successful research studies typically use doses of 100 – 400 mg modafinil, which translates to 300 – 1200 mg adrafinil (1:3 ratio)
- Most adrafinil supplements come in 300 mg capsules
- Adrafinil takes about 45-60 minutes to take effect, lasting for up to 15 hours (the half-life of modafinil)
- Adrafinil powder. Powdered adrafinil.
- Adrafinil capsules. The most commonly used form; encapsulated adrafinil powder.
Supplements in Review Says
- Adrafinil 300 mg as needed for energy.
Adrafinil is one of the most reliable fatigue-fighting supplements. Adrafinil promotes wakefulness and alertness, and is widely used to help alleviate conditions marked by fatigue and sleepiness. Furthermore, unlike many nootropics, adrafinil and modafinil have no serious side effects and are backed by decades of research.
300 mg is the most common adrafinil dose. This dose is enough to see significant reduction of fatigue and improvement of energy. It’s best to only use adrafinil when needed, since it can disrupt the normal sleep cycle and potentially affect the liver after prolonged use.
- Battleday RM, Brem AK. Modafinil for cognitive neuroenhancement in healthy non-sleep-deprived subjects: A systematic review. Eur Neuropsychopharmacol. 2015 Nov;25(11):1865-81. ↩
- Rammohan KW et al. Efficacy and safety of modafinil (Provigil) for the treatment of fatigue in multiple sclerosis: a two centre phase 2 study. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 2002 Feb;72(2):179-83. ↩
- Perlis ML et al. The effects of modafinil and cognitive behavior therapy on sleep continuity in patients with primary insomnia. Sleep. 2004 Jun 15;27(4):715-25. ↩
- Fava M et al. A multicenter, placebo-controlled study of modafinil augmentation in partial responders to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors with persistent fatigue and sleepiness. J Clin Psychiatry. 2005 Jan;66(1):85-93. ↩
- Becker PM et al. Effect of modafinil on fatigue, mood, and health-related quality of life in patients with narcolepsy. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2004 Jan;171(2):133-9. ↩
- Turner DC, et al. Cognitive enhancing effects of modafinil in healthy volunteers. January 2003, Volume 165, Issue 3, pp 260-269. ↩
- Baranski JV et al. Effects of modafinil on cognitive and meta-cognitive performance. Hum Psychopharmacol. 2004 Jul;19(5):323-32. ↩
- DeBattista C et al. Adjunct modafinil for the short-term treatment of fatigue and sleepiness in patients with major depressive disorder: a preliminary double-blind, placebo-controlled study. J Clin Psychiatry. 2003 Sep;64(9):1057-64. ↩
- Makris AP et al. Behavioral and subjective effects of d-amphetamine and modafinil in healthy adults. Exp Clin Psychopharmacol. 2007 Apr;15(2):123-33. ↩