Provigil and Nuvigil – A Guide to Set the Sleeping Drugs Apart

Last Updated: December 19, 2019

Authored by Roger Weiss, MD

Presently, over 70 million Americans suffer from some type of sleep disorder. A majority of them are not even aware of the dire condition that ails them. The modern day lifestyle is a stressful one. In fact, most people will decide to sacrifice their good night’s sleep in order to finish more tasks in the evening hours. A prolonged negligence of a healthy sleep routine can result in various sleeping disorders. They include Sleep Apnea, Leg Cramps, Insomnia, Restless Legs Syndrome, and Narcolepsy. Therefore, the number of people suffering from sleep deprivation continues to grow. As a result, sleep aiding drugs such as Provigil and Nuvigil are being prescribed as a last resort to provide the much needed sleep.

Provigil and Nuvigil: What’s the Difference?

Firstly, both Provigil (modafinil) and Nuvigil are a sleep-promoting prescription medication used to treat various sleeping disorders. They are narcolepsy, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and others. Their main function is to boost brain activity in order to maintain wakefulness. Incidentally, the same pharmaceutical company, Cephalon, makes both drugs. They will exude the same effects in the body. This include an increased release of catecholamines norepinephrine and dopamine from synaptic terminals. At the same time, the effects also include the elevation of hypothalamic histamine levels. As a result, they are very similar in the following aspects:

  • Both Nuvigil and Provigil contain modafinil
  • Patients take both drugs orally
  • They are off limits to persons between the ages of 10-19
  • They both carry addictive properties
  • Nuvigil and Provigil are both exclusively prescription drugs
  • They’re available in a tablet form

The biggest difference between Provigil and Nuvigil are their side effects.

While both of these medicines can cause severe side effects, Nuvigil will offer fewer. Some of them include headaches, nausea, dizziness, trouble sleeping. On the other hand, Provigil may cause the following:

  • Back pain
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Nervousness
  • Stuffy nose
  • Diarrhea
  • Anxiety
  • Dizziness
  • Upset stomach
  • Trouble sleeping

Furthermore, even though Provigil comes with more side effects, statistics show that it is more frequently purchased by patients due to its lower cost. As for the difference between the efficacy of Provigil and Nuvigil, research shows that there is none.

Differences in Brand Names

Pharmacies around the world will sell Nuvigil under the same name. However, Provigil has many different names in different countries. Some of these are:

  • Alertec-Canada, Ecuador
  • Carim-Colombia, Ecuador, Honduras, Uruguay
  • Modalert, Provake, Modapro, Modafil-India
  • Modasomil-Áustria, Switzerland
  • Modavigil-Australia, New Zealand
  • Modiodal-France, Denmark, Greece, Mexico, Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden

Taking Provigil and Nuvigil

These are some of the things a doctor might tell:

  • One can take the drug with or without food.
  • Patients are not allowed to share the drug with anyone.
  • Anyone younger than the age of 19, should not be taking the drug.
  • One  should store the drug at room temperature and away from heat and moisture.
  • It is vital to tell a doctor if one are pregnant or planning to become pregnant.

Provigil and Nuvigil
Does one notice any of the following symptoms while taking either Provigil or Nuvigil? Then, stop taking the medication right away and call a doctor:

  • Swelling of the face, eyes, lips, tongue, or throat
  • Skin rash, hives, sores in the mouth, or skin blisters and peels
  • Trouble swallowing or breathing
  • Fever, shortness of breath, swelling of the legs, yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes, or dark urine.

What To Avoid While on Provigil and Nuvigil?

  • Avoid operating heavy machinery, driving and/or other activities as these analeptics may negatively influence certain senses. They include the perception, thinking, and reaction.
  • Avoid drinking alcoholic beverages while on these medicines.
  • The users should put all dangerous activities on pause while on these analeptics.

Published on: May 5th, 2017

Updated on: December 19th, 2019

About Author

Roger Weiss, MD

Dr. Roger Weiss is a practicing mental health specialist at the hospital. Dr. Weiss combines his clinical practice and medical writing career since 2009. Apart from these activities, Dr. Weiss also delivers lectures for youth, former addicts, and everyone interested in topics such as substance abuse and treatment.


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