Provigil (modafinil) and Nuvigil (armodafinil) are brand-name prescription medications. They’re approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat excessive sleepiness due to certain conditions. The conditions include obstructive sleep apnea, narcolepsy, and shift work disorder.
This article discusses the major similarities and key differences between Provigil and Nuvigil. If you’re thinking about taking one of these medications, talk with your doctor. Discussing this information with them can determine if either of these drugs is a good choice for you.
Note: For more comprehensive information about Provigil, you can refer to our Provigil article. Your doctor can provide you with additional details about Nuvigil.
Key differences between Provigil and Nuvigil
These are a few of the main differences between Provigil and Nuvigil:
- Dosage: Provigil is available in two strengths, while Nuvigil is available in four strengths. The doses of the two medications may differ as well. (See “Dosages, forms, and administration” below.)
- Side effects. Provigil may cause back pain or a runny nose. Nuvigil isn’t known to cause these side effects. (See “Side effects of Provigil vs. Nuvigil” below.)
Below are answers to some common questions about Provigil and Nuvigil.
How do Provigil and Nuvigil compare with ADHD drugs, such as Adderall?
Provigil, Nuvigil, and many drugs used for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may be used to treat excessive sleepiness in people with narcolepsy. These drugs include amphetamine/dextroamphetamine (Adderall).
Provigil, Nuvigil, and some ADHD medications are known as stimulant drugs. These drugs work in similar ways. However, their side effects and dosing schedules may differ. For example, Provigil and Nuvigil are typically taken once daily in the morning. Certain ADHD drugs may need to be taken more often, such as every 4 to 6 hours.
If you have additional questions about Provigil, Nuvigil, or other treatments for excessive sleepiness, talk with your doctor.
Do Provigil or Nuvigil cause weight loss?
Weight loss wasn’t reported as a side effect in clinical trials of people taking Provigil or Nuvigil. So, this isn’t a side effect that you should experience with either drug.
Provigil and Nuvigil did cause decreased appetite in the trials. It’s possible that having less of an appetite may increase your risk of weight loss
It’s important to note that neither Provigil nor Nuvigil are approved to be used for weight loss.
If you’re concerned about your weight, talk with your doctor about ways to manage it.
Can Provigil or Nuvigil affect my mood?
Yes, it’s possible for Provigil and Nuvigil to cause changes in mood. In clinical trials, the following mood changes were reported with both drugs:
- agitation (feeling restless or annoyed)
- suicidal thoughts or behaviors
If you notice any changes in mood while taking Provigil or Nuvigil, talk with your doctor. They can help determine the best way to treat the changes. If you experience suicidal thoughts or behaviors specifically, immediately talk with your doctor or seek emergency help.
What’s the half-life of Provigil and Nuvigil?
The half-life of both Provigil and Nuvigil is about 15 hours. A half-life is how long it takes for your body to remove half of a dose of medication. For example, if you take 200 milligrams (mg) of Nuvigil, 15 hours later about 100 mg of the drug will be left in your body.
To learn more about the half-lives of either drug, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.
If you know someone at immediate risk of self-harm, suicide, or hurting another person:
- Ask the tough question: “Are you considering suicide?”
- Listen to the person without judgment.
- Call 911 or the local emergency number, or text TALK to 741741 to communicate with a trained crisis counselor.
- Stay with the person until professional help arrives.
- Try to remove any weapons, medications, or other potentially harmful objects.
If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, a prevention hotline can help. The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is available 24 hours a day at 988. During a crisis, people who are hard of hearing can use their preferred relay service or dial 711 then 988.
Here’s information about the generic status for Provigil and Nuvigil, as well as details on their active ingredients.
|Drug class||central nervous system stimulant||central nervous system stimulant|
The generic version of Provigil is called modafinil. The generic version of Nuvigil is known as armodafinil.
Both Provigil and Nuvigil are both used to treat excessive sleepiness due to certain conditions. These drugs can cause some of the same side effects, as well as some different ones. Some of the side effects reported for these drugs are mentioned below.
For more information about side effects of Provigil, see this article and the Provigil prescribing information. To learn more about Nuvigil’s side effects, refer to the Nuvigil prescribing information. You can also talk with your doctor or pharmacist.
Mild side effects
The following table lists some of the more commonly reported mild side effects of Provigil and Nuvigil. The table may also include mild side effects that are less common but that you might have concerns about in some cases.
|Mild side effects||Provigil||Nuvigil|
|mild allergic reaction*||x||x|
These side effects may be temporary, lasting a few days to weeks. If the side effects last longer than that, bother you, or become severe, be sure to talk with your doctor or pharmacist.
Serious side effects
The following table lists reported serious side effects of Provigil and Nuvigil.
|Serious side effects||Provigil||Nuvigil|
|serious skin rash||x||x|
|angioedema (swelling beneath the skin)||x||x|
|psychiatric symptoms, such as mood changes||x||x|
|severe reactions, such as DRESS, which can affect several organs||x||x|
|heart problems, such as chest pain||x||x|
|severe allergic reaction||x||x|
If you have serious side effects while taking Provigil or Nuvigil, call your doctor immediately. If the side effects feel life threatening or you believe you’re having a medical emergency, call 911 or your local emergency number right away.
The price you pay for Provigil or Nuvigil depends on the treatment plan your doctor prescribes, your insurance plan, and your pharmacy.
Both Provigil and Nuvigil are brand-name drugs. The two medications also come in generic form. Brand-name medications are often more expensive than generics. To learn about the generic form of either drug, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.
Here’s a quick look at the dosage and administration for Provigil and Nuvigil for the conditions both drugs treat. Milligrams is abbreviated as “mg.”
Dosage for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) or narcolepsy
|Provigil for OSA or narcolepsy||Nuvigil for OSA or narcolepsy|
|Form||oral tablet||oral tablet|
|Strengths||• 100 mg|
• 200 mg
|• 50 mg|
• 150 mg
• 200 mg
• 250 mg
|Dose||200 mg||150 mg to 250 mg|
|Frequency||once daily in the morning||once daily in the morning|
Dosage for shift work disorder (SWD)
|Provigil for SWD||Nuvigil for SWD|
|Forms||oral tablet||oral tablet|
|Strengths||• 100 mg|
• 200 mg
|• 50 mg|
• 150 mg
• 200 mg
• 250 mg
|Dose||200 mg||150 mg|
|Frequency||once daily about 1 hour before starting work shift||once daily about 1 hour before starting work shift|
Note: For more information about Provigil’s dosage, see this article. Your doctor or pharmacist can also answer questions about the dosages of Provigil and Nuvigil.
Provigil and Nuvigil have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat excessive sleepiness caused by:
- obstructive sleep apnea (a disorder that causes interrupted breathing while sleeping due to a collapsed airway)
- narcolepsy (a condition that causes excessive drowsiness during the day and disturbed sleep)
- shift work disorder (a sleeping disorder that can occur in people who work nontraditional hours, such as night shifts)
Note: For more information about Provigil’s uses, see this article. Your doctor or pharmacist can also answer questions about Provigil or Nuvigil.
Both Provigil and Nuvigil are effective treatment options for certain people with excessive sleepiness. Your doctor can help determine if Provigil or Nuvigil may be the best treatment option for you.
Review of studies. Here’s a brief look at whether Provigil or Nuvigil was found to be more effective for treating certain conditions.
Separate studies of Provigil and Nuvigil were compared in a large review of studies. This review showed that both drugs were effective at treating excessive sleepiness in people with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
Prescribing information. For information about how these drugs performed in clinical trials, see the prescribing information for Provigil and Nuvigil. Keep in mind that trial results may not apply to your individual health situation.
Treatment guidelines. Another way to see whether a drug is considered effective is to look at treatment guidelines.
When an organization includes certain drugs in treatment guidelines, this means that research has shown the drug to be safe and effective.
Provigil and Nuvigil are recommended as a treatment option for people with narcolepsy in guidelines from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.
Provigil and Nuvigil may not be right for you if you have certain medical conditions or other factors that affect your health. The two drugs share some of the same precautions, but they also have different ones. Some of these precautions are mentioned below.
If any of the following medical conditions or other health factors are relevant to you, talk with your doctor before taking Provigil or Nuvigil.
|if you’ve had an allergic reaction to either drug or any of its ingredients||x||x|
|if you’re pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant||x||x|
|if you’re breastfeeding or thinking about breastfeeding||x||x|
|if you have a history of mental health problems||x||x|
|if you have a history of heart problems or heart attack||x||x|
|if you have a history of high blood pressure||x||x|
|if you have liver problems||x||x|
|if you have kidney problems||x||x|
|if you have a history of drug or alcohol misuse||x||x|
Note: For more comprehensive information about Provigil, you can refer to this article. Your doctor or pharmacist can also answer questions about Provigil or Nuvigil.
Switching between Provigil and Nuvigil is possible.
If you’d like to know more about switching between Provigil and Nuvigil, talk with your doctor. They can give you additional details and help determine the best course of action for your personal situation. Even if two drugs treat the same condition or are in the same drug class, your body can still respond differently. It’s important that you do not stop, start, or switch any of your drug treatments without your doctor’s recommendation.
Some key points to remember when comparing Provigil and Nuvigil include:
- Provigil may cause more mild side effects, including runny nose and back pain. These side effects haven’t been reported in Nuvigil.
- The doses of the two drugs may differ. Also, Provigil is available in two strengths. Nuvigil is available in four strengths.
If you’d like to learn more about Provigil or Nuvigil, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. They can help answer any questions you have about similarities and differences between the drugs. They can also help determine if one drug or the other might work well for you.
Note: For more information about conditions that affect sleep, you can see our sleep hub.
Disclaimer: Medical News Today has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up to date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or another healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.