Does modafinil give you a headache? I personally get modafinil headaches on occasion. Headaches are one modafinil side effect that I'm intimately familiar with.
Headaches are the most common adverse effect of modafinil [^6]. About one-third of individuals taking modafinil will encounter this side effect. So if you're experiencing headaches that's not at all unusual or cause for alarm. Modafinil-related headaches are not dangerous.
There are four types of headaches:
The headache most commonly associated with modafinil is the tension-type headache.
These are the signs that you're experiencing a Provigil-induced headache:
If you went to a phyisician and presented with a run-of-the-mill tention-type headache, what would your doctor say? The typical treatments for tention-type headaches are as follows:
Surprisingly, headaches aren't well understood [^11]. The brain itself is not sensitive to pain because it lacks pain receptors. Many areas around the head and neck do have pain receptors, including the extracranial arteries, middle meningeal artery, cranial and spinal nerves, and meninges. Most headaches result from irritation of the meninges and surrounding blood vessels.
Most modafinil headaches are actually tention-type headaches. Tension-type headahces are cause by overstimulation of peripheral afferent neurons from head and neck muscles
Modafinil headaches are likly caused by excess activation of peripheral neurons. The Yerkes-Dodson Law states that there is an optimal level of arousal to facilitate learning and memory. Too much arousal impairs performance and can lead to anxiety, headaches, and so forth. Conversely not enough arousal leads to fatigue, disengagement, and brain fog.
The mechanism of modafinil involves many neurotransmitter systems. Modafinil affects orexin, glutamate, dopamine, and other signaling molecules. Excess glutamate is linked to headaches. For example, there’s a link between the food additive MSG (monosodium glutamate) and the development of headaches [^8], though some have called this link into question ^9.
Headaches is the most common side effect of modafinil. Therefore it's no surprise that you might be experiencing this side effect.
Both too much and too little choline can contribute to headaches. The evidence surrounding the choline-headache link is mostly anecdotal, so please don’t leap to conclusions.
Modafinil doesn’t directly affect acetylcholine or choline metabolism. Therefore there’s little reason to think that modafinil-induced headaches would be related to choline supplementation.
Undesirable modafinil side effects like headaches or insomnia may prompt you to want to rid your body of modafinil as quickly as possible.
One downside to modafinil is that it has a relatively long half-life of 13 hours. Since modafinil is a long-lasting wakefulness enhancer it's no surprise that many people experience insomnia on the drug.
Unfortunately, there is no documented method to reduce the half-life of modafinil.
Here are some excerpts from Reddit that I found pertinent on the question of Provigil headaches.
It happened today the dreaded mod headache, I just started taking Modalert last Sunday and it's been great I've taken it for this whole week minus Wednesday when I took a day off(felt like crap that day). It's Friday now and I started the day off okay and then slowly a couple hours passed and I started feeling the headache it wasn't too bad at first but it got really bad after 5-6 hours, I ended up napping to see if it would help and it was difficult but I managed to fall asleep for two hours and now it's even worse this headache is not getting any better any ideas on what I could do to make it subside?
PS I have been drinking lots of water and I ate a decent amount of food so these can't be the problem. I drank some Gatorade to see if it was just me being dehydrated but I don't feel any better...
Here's a synopsis of the suggestions in the Reddit thread:
Ive tried both armodafinil and modafinil and for some reason when i take either i get a throbbing headache for hours. I drink plenty of water while i take it however i am a relatively new user of both. I take 200mg moda or 150mg armodafinil. I only take it once every 2 days max.
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[^7]: Woelk H, Schläfke S. A multi-center, double-blind, randomised study of the Lavender oil preparation Silexan in comparison to Lorazepam for generalized anxiety disorder. Phytomedicine. 2010;17(2):94-9.
[^8]: Baad-hansen L, Cairns B, Ernberg M, Svensson P. Effect of systemic monosodium glutamate (MSG) on headache and pericranial muscle sensitivity. Cephalalgia. 2010;30(1):68-76.
[^10]: Kimura K, Ozeki M, Juneja LR, Ohira H. L-Theanine reduces psychological and physiological stress responses. Biol Psychol. 2007;74(1):39-45.
[^11]: Loder E, Rizzoli P. Tension-type headache. BMJ. 2008;336(7635):88-92.