Provigil: I don’t wanna close my eyes…

…I don’t wanna fall asleep. A recent survey by Newsnight and New Scientist found that 38% of respondents had taken cognitive-enhancing drugs such as modafinil (Provigil), Ritalin and Adderall. This number is a great increase on the 20% of respondents who were found to take these drugs in April this year.

Modafinil, known under the brand name Provigil, is popular amongst students for its ability to increase concentration and wakefulness. Modafinil was developed for sufferers of narcolepsy as a central nervous system stimulus to maintain daytime alertness although it is currently being taken in increasing numbers by students, the military and shift workers to keep awake. Users are able to legally purchase the drug online unlike controlled drugs such as Ritalin.

Regulators are concerned that long-term use without proper safety tests could lead to harm. Studies are currently being carried out into the benefits of cognitive-enhancing drugs to help patients suffering from conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. The risks of healthy people taking these drugs have, as yet, not been tested and the charity DrugScope warns that buying cognitive enhancers online is risky as they may not be what they claim to be and users may experience adverse reactions. Until they have been properly tested and regulated it seems that a dose of morning cappuccino will be a better ‘treatment’ for tiredness.


A sleep disorder in which there are episodes of temporary cessation of breathing (lasting 10 seconds or longer) during sleep Full medical glossary
A sleep disorder characterised by chronic daytime sleepiness with recurrent episodes of sleep occuring throughout the day. Full medical glossary
The system that gathers and stores information and is in overall control of the body. The brain and spinal cord form the central nervous system. Full medical glossary