Provigil is the trade name for a medication called Modafinil, which is an FDA approved medication for sleep disorders that include

1) Narcolepsy, 2) residual daytimes sleepiness from sleep apnea and 3) shift-work sleep disorder. Some doctors prescribe it for Idiopathic Hypersomnolence (sleepiness of unknown cause). Modafinil has been used off label in patients with jet lag, depression, multiple sclerosis, fibromylgia and chronic fatigue. 

Modafinil is a wake-promoting agent. It helps a person stay awake without getting the “jolt” feeling that one might experience with excess consumption of caffeine or medications such as amphetamines. The addiction potential is also very minimal to none.

It comes in two doses: 100 and 200 mg. The usual prescribing dose is 200 mg each morning. In more severe cases, your doctor might prescribe 200 mg twice a day. In mild cases, 100 mg each morning is enough to ward off the sleepiness. Avoid taking modafinil in the evenings to avoid potential insomnia at bedtime. Shift worker might benefit from modafinil during nighttime working hours.  

Common side effects include headaches nausea, diarrhea, dizziness, insomnia and feeling nervous. Headache is a common one; in this case, you can take tylenol for a week and if the headache continues, you might have to stop the medicine.

Serious side effects include a serious rash or hives, shortness of breath, fever, Steven-Johnson Syndrome (potentially fatal rash). If you notice any of these signs, stop taking modafinil, call your prescribing doctor or go to the emergency department.

Modafinil has a potential effect on hormonal contraception. It can decrease the effect of contraception.