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Modafinil Headaches- Cause, Prevention, and Treatments

Modafinil Headaches- Cause, Prevention, and Treatments


Yes, Modafinil can cause headaches, a common side effect of the drug. The best part is that Modafinil headaches are completely preventable and curable. Staying hydrated, using deep breathing techniques, and maintaining a balanced diet can help. Also, incorporating medications and supplements such as ibuprofen and choline can effectively treat headaches caused by Modafinil.  



When striving for optimal productivity, adding Modafinil to the work routine may result in headaches while managing multiple tasks concurrently. If so, you are not alone!

Even though it is not ideal to experience a headache, it is reassuring that many other users also experience it. There are specific treatment options that can effectively prevent and treat headaches brought on by modafinil. 


Modafinil And Its Possible Health Risks

Modafinil, first developed in the 1990s, is a novel wakefulness-promoting medication. It is available in various brand names: Modalert, Provigil, Modvigil, Modaheal and Modawake. 

Modafinil is approved for the treatment of excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS) caused by narcolepsy, sleep apnea, and shift work sleep disorder (SWSD). This Nootropic has gained popularity for promoting wakefulness and enhancing cognitive functions. 

Other recognized off-label benefits include managing attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and improving focus and productivity.

Health Risks

Understanding the potential side effects associated with any medication is crucial. Hence, it is essential to recognize and address the associated side effects of Modafinil. One such adverse effect that you might experience is headaches. 

Headaches associated with Modafinil use can cause discomfort and affect the overall user experience. Therefore, awareness of the causes and cures for headaches from Modafinil is essential to ensuring informed decision-making regarding its usage. 


Why Does Modafinil Cause Headaches? 

Although not all Modafinil users experience headaches, they are reported as a relatively common adverse reaction. According to FDA clinical trials, 34% of 934 Provigil (Modafinil) users experienced headaches. The prevalence of headaches after Modafinil intake varies among users and may depend on several causes.

Factors contributing to headaches from Modafinil are listed below. 




Neurotransmitter Changes

Modafinil provides its benefits by primarily altering the neurotransmitters or brain chemicals.  Alterations of neurotransmitter levels, such as dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine, could trigger headaches due to this Nootropic.


Headaches from any medication, including Modafinil, may result from Vasodilation.

Studies have shown that Modafinil causes vasodilation, which relaxes and widens the blood vessels of the muscles, allowing more blood to flow. 

Even though vasodilation itself doesn't cause headaches, sudden changes in blood vessel constriction and dilation may trigger headaches.

Dose-Dependent Adverse Effect

According to FDA clinical trials, Modafinil headaches are frequently dose-dependent. The higher the dose of Modafinil, the higher the risk of experiencing headaches.


The brain can contract when the body is dehydrated due to fluid loss. Brain shrinkage due to dehydration can cause pain and dehydration headaches. 

Modafinil can induce a diuretic effect, causing excessive urination that can lead to dehydration, resulting in a headache. 

Appetite Suppressing Effects Of Modafinil

Modafinil can cause a reduction in hunger, which was also scientifically proven in a 2018 study by Gydmer A. Perez et al. [2]. This may often result in a lack of intake of a balanced diet and hunger. 

A hunger headache may arise when the blood sugar level begins to drop. In response, the body releases certain hormones that signal the brain that you are hungry. 

Modafinil Headache Linked To Magnesium Deficiency

A 2020 study by Jeanette A. Maier et al. established the relationship between low magnesium levels and tension headaches and migraines [3]. 

Modafinil can cause the depletion of certain nutrients, including magnesium, causing headaches. Modafinil's appetite-suppressing properties make it even worse because it is very common for users to skip meals every day. Skipping meals can prevent them from replenishing their lost magnesium level. 

Prolonged Wakefulness

The eugeroic properties of Modafinil, intended to enhance wakefulness, may induce insomnia if taken later in the day. According to a 1990 study by J. N. Blau, tension headaches can frequently be the result of inadequate sleep. 

Additionally, increased wakefulness and cognitive arousal induced by Modafinil may worsen tension and stress. These effects contribute to headache development, particularly in individuals prone to stress-related headaches.

Overstimulation Of The Nervous System 

Modafinil causes migraines and tension-type headaches by overstimulating the sympathetic nervous system (SNS). It also leads to higher blood pressure and an increase in heart rate. 

The sympathetic nervous system regulates the "flight response," which is activated during danger and may last for about 2 hours. Since our body is not designed to have long hours of activated SNS, prolonged stimulation for up to 22 hours due to Modafinil may result in headaches or migraines. 

Note- Not all the factors mentioned above will result in headaches due to Modafinil intake. Your headache may arise from one or a combination of the causes listed here. 



Facts On Modafinil-Induced Headache- 

  • This Nootropic doesn't cause headaches in the first few hours of administration. It arises when Modafinil's blood concentration reaches its peak around 2 to 3 hours after intake. 

  • The half-life of Modafinil affects the duration of action and its side effects, including headaches. Thus, headaches caused by Modafinil may last up to 12 hours. 

  • According to the FDA (Food and Drug Administration), headache is a common side effect of Modafinil reported in more than five percent of its users. 

  • Headaches from Modafinil have been clinically reported in 34% of test subjects, according to a 2007 study by Roth T et al. entitled "Evaluation of the safety of Modafinil for the treatment of excessive sleepiness." [1]



Modafinil-Induced Headache Symptoms

The signs that help identify and separate a headache from other headaches caused by Modafinil are 

  • A dull and persistent headache. 

  • Experiencing tightness on the forehead that may migrate to the neck. 

  • Feeling pressure between the eyes. 

  • Discomfort or pain that does not go away with a head massage or naps.

  • A constant feeling of pain. 


How To Avoid Headache Caused By Modafinil?

The risk of headaches from Modafinil can be minimized and prevented by incorporating the following five measures, as shown in the image below. These measures can assist you with how to fight a headache after taking Modafinil effectively.




Get Enough Sleep-

Taking the Modafinil dosage in the morning by 10 am or avoiding its administration in the afternoon or evening can help you avoid headaches. Ensure you get a minimum of 7 hours of sleep every day. 

Lower Modafinil Dosage- 

Modafinil-associated headaches can arise due to overdosing; thus, you should follow a correct dosage regimen. Beginners should take Modafinil 100 to 200 mg per day and 1 to 3 times per week. One can also split their Modafinil dose into two smaller doses. 

Avoid Taking Modafinil With Other Stimulants-

Stacking Modafinil with other stimulants, such as caffeine, for better results may often cause headaches as a withdrawal symptom. Thus, it is advised to avoid the intake of Modafinil with other medications and stimulants. 

Maintaining A Proper Posture

The ability to increase Modafinil's focus and attention span often results in long hours of desk work. Since most people have poor posture while working on their computers, it may induce stress across the neck, head, and upper shoulder muscles. Thus, poor posture can result in tension-type headaches.

Such headaches can be prevented with frequent breaks during the day and stretching for 5 to 10 minutes every 1 or 2 hours. 

Get More Physical Exercise

One of the best ways to manage and prevent headaches caused by muscle tension is to get enough exercise. Numerous studies indicate that headaches associated with Modafinil can be prevented with frequent exercise. It is also further supported by a 2018 study by Faisal Mohammad Amin et al. that discussed the association between migraine and physical exercise. 

Regular 20- to 30-minute runs or jogs can help prevent headaches. However, while exercising, remember to stay hydrated. 


How Do You Get Rid Of Modafinil Headaches?

Below are four scientifically proven and medically recommended ways to help cure Modafinil-induced headaches faster.

Staying Hydrated-

Dehydration is one of Modafinil's most common side effects that may further result in headaches. The best way to treat a dehydration headache is to address the fluid loss. Thus, such individuals should:

  • Drink at least 2 liters of water while taking Modafinil 100 mg.

  • Four liters of water when taking Modafinil 200 mg tablets. 

Maintain A Balanced Diet-

It may be easy to skip meals when taking Modafinil due to its appetite-suppressing activity. To treat hunger-associated headaches, ensure a healthy and balanced diet after or before taking the Modafinil dosage. 

Cure Headache From SNS Overstimulation-

Try techniques to relax and calm down the SNS to avoid and cure headaches due to its overstimulation. 

Deep breathing exercises can help reduce SNS stimulation, lower anxiety and help with headaches. So, try 2 to 3 minutes of slow breathing. You can also count to 5 while breathing in and then count to 10 while breathing out. 

Medications And Supplements For Headaches

Apart from lifestyle changes, taking pain medication may help get faster relief. Below is a list of medications and supplements suggested and mostly prescribed by physicians to take with Modafinil to manage headaches. 

- Pain medications

Pain medicines such as Ibuprofen, Aleve, and Aspirin are recommended by doctors as the first line of treatment for headaches. However, before taking Modafinil and ibuprofen, it is important to consult a medical professional to avoid any possible drug interaction. 

- Anti-anxiety medications

Many scientific papers, including a 2017 study by Tae-Jin Song et al., suggest that headaches due to Modafinil can increase anxiety levels. Thus, taking anti-anxiety medications or anxiolytic supplements can help reduce its possibility. Some effective options for anxiety-reducing supplements include L-theanine, Magnesium, and Melatonin. 

- Choline Supplements

In a 1984 study by J. de Belleroche et al., a lower concentration of erythrocyte choline was measured in patients with cluster headaches. Hence, taking Choline supplements can address Modafinil-induced headaches.

The following are the best sources of Choline for headaches:

  • Soy Lecithin- 2.5 to 9.5 percent choline by weight. 

  • Choline Bitartrate- 40% of Choline by weight.

Taking Modafinil and choline together can also help manage signs of headache. 


Editor’s Note-

If you have any queries related to Modafinil or its potential to cause headaches, you can reach us at [email protected]


Yes, with proper treatment, getting relief from Modafinil headaches is possible.

No, using Modafinil 200 mg is ineffective in helping with migraine. It can improve fatigue and excessive sleepiness in users.

Some effective ways to deal with Modafinil headaches include staying hydrated, getting enough sleep, avoiding mixing stimulants, and overdosing on Modafinil. Certain lifestyle changes such as exercising, relaxing, and taking certain supplements can also prevent Modafinil headaches.

Modafinil headaches may arise from numerous factors, such as dehydration, overdosing, overstimulation, muscle tension, and depletion of minerals such as magnesium.

Modafinil acts on the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) to cause it to stay active for a long time resulting in migraine.

No, the use of Modafinil does not help with headaches.

No, do not mix alcohol with Modafinil. It can cause severe headaches or blackouts.

Modafinil influences neurotransmitter activity in the brain. By inhibiting dopamine reuptake, it promotes alertness and cognitive function. This multifaceted action supports improved focus and sustained wakefulness, making Modafinil effective for narcolepsy and sleep disorders.

Yes, it can cause water retention as a side effect for some users.


  1. Evaluation of the Safety of Modafinil for Treatment of Excessive Sleepiness, NCBI. 

  2. Modafinil decreases food intake in humans subjected to simulated shift work, NCBI.

  3. Headaches and Magnesium: Mechanisms, Bioavailability, Therapeutic Efficacy and Potential Advantage of Magnesium Pidolate, NCBI.