Adrafinil is a nootropic that is used to promote alertness and prevent feelings of sleepiness. Adrafinil is also used as means of increasing focus, supporting memory, and improving overall learning capacity.
Adrafinil is sometimes used as a prescription drug for people suffering from narcolepsy as a means of keeping them awake longer.
In the body, adrafinil has a relatively short half-life but is converted into modafinil, which has a much longer half-life and thus longer lasting effects.
For those who are subjected to drug testing, adrafinil is prohibited for in-competition use by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) (1).
Adrafinil was created as a substance to fight narcolepsy. Thus, its main benefit is its ability to promote alertness and wakefulness.
An important distinction to make is the difference between alertness/wakefulness and a general stimulant. Adrafinil will not cause the user to feel jittery or hyperactive (2). Rather, most people describe a sense of mental clarity, increased ability to focus, or the ability to simply stay awake longer without feeling sleepy.
Unfortunately, much of the research for adrafinil is derived from studies on modafinil. However, adrafinil becomes modafinil through its natural metabolism in the body so it is likely there is significant similarity between the two.
Adrafinil is effective as a means of reducing the feelings of sleepiness. To date no studies have been conducted on adrafinil specifically to evaluate this effect. However, anecdotal reports suggest roughly 12+ hours of effects on reducing the feeling of sleepiness.
Many users also report feelings of heightened mental clarity. Everything from increased memory, increased reaction time, and amplified ability to focus are commonly reported.
In a study using dogs adrafinil was shown to significantly increase their ability to learn a new task (3). Most interestingly, the dogs who were given adrafinil were older than the control dogs. The older dogs using adrafinil outperformed their younger counterparts.
Another study using dogs found that adrafinil causes a long-lasting increase in high frequency brain activity (4). It is important to note in this study they used only a single dose and still found significant results.
Many people report an increase in mood associated with an increase in mental clarity. This same effect was found in a study where older dogs were given adrafinil and exhibited improved behaviour and general vigour (5). This suggests that adrafinil may have some benefit in maintaining cognitive ability with age in humans (6).
An interesting benefit of adrafinil noted in monkeys was the improvement in overall behaviour specifically at night. The use of adrafinil effectively doubled the monkey’s nocturnal activity (7). The monkeys did not exhibit normal nocturnal behaviour and acted similarly to how they would during the day (7). This supports the notion that adrafinil delays feelings of sleepiness.
Adrafinil seems to have a benefit of increasing physical energy as well as cognitive energy. In studies using rats, those given adrafinil had significantly increased locomotion and physical energy output (8). A similar result was observed in dogs, where they covered more ground and were more physically active but not noticeably more fatigued than the control group (9).
The exact mechanisms of the physical benefits are not known but provide interesting direction for future research.
Another commonly reported benefit of adrafinil use is a decrease in appetite. No studies have examined this effect but it is worth nothing. Users report that the lack of feeling hungry helps them to remain undistracted by their hunger. The loss of appetite may be a benefit or a negative effect depending on your intended use.
Many people report enhanced memory while using adrafinil. Only one study using dogs actually found a decrease in memory in dogs given adrafinil (10). More research is of course needed but it is possible that the reports of increased memory are simply mistaken for the general increase in focus and mental clarity.
The long-term effects of regular adrafinil use are not clear at this time. One case-study however showed that after a period of regular adrafinil use, orofacial dyskinesia developed (11).
An important side effect to note is that of adrafinil’s main purpose. Users report extreme difficulty falling asleep while taking adrafinil. Of course this is likely why someone would take adrafinil however it can be a negative if you have completed your task and wish to sleep. The best way to avoid this is to take adrafinil early in the day so that its effects have worn off by the time you wish to sleep.
Some other general side effects that have been reported are headaches, irritability, loss of appetite and increased blood pressure.
The recommended dosage for adrafinil is approximately 10mg/kg. This works out to approximately 600-900mg in most people.
It is important to take adrafinil early in the morning if you wish to continue a regular sleep cycle. The effects generally last somewhere between 12-15 hours.
Adrafinil should not be taken daily and should not be taken for long periods of time. Instead, the most common dosage schedule is to use modafinil only when needed and to avoid use on consecutive days.
In those who are subject to WADA drug testing, keep in mind that adrafinil is a banned in-competition substance (1).
Adrafinil is a useful nootropic supplement which increases wakefulness and decreases sleepiness. Unlike other stimulants it does not produce agitating effects and users are able to maintain control of their emotions and focus while taking adrafinil.
Adrafinil is converted to modafinil in the body and thus many people suggest simply taking modafinil for the same effects. Much more research has been conducted examining modafinil but the effects of adrafinil are thought to be largely the same.
Adrafinil is commonly used when you need to focus or stay awake for long periods of time. Future research will determine its potential use as a physical stimulant as well as a cognitive enhancer.