Does Modafinil Increase Heart Rate?

Written on March 9, 2022 by | Reviewed by William Gallagher, MNeuroSci

In this article I'll delve into the effects of Modafinil on heart rate and hopefully shed some light on what this means in terms of increasing performance (mentally and/or physically).

I thought it would be interesting to test it out on my own body doing a small experiment, which is exactly what I'm going to do here.

First I'll begin with a demonstration of what happens to my heart rate after taking Modafinil.

I will be using both HRV (Heart Rate Variability) and also a non-contact Polar T31, chest strap heart rate monitor, that works by measuring the electrical changes in my skin due to the pulsing of my heart.

Note: I'm not a medical doctor and this is not intended as medical advice. I have no idea what I'm doing.

What Is HRV?

It's not exactly the most well-known term out there and even doctors are still trying to get their heads around it and what it means exactly.

HRV is a measure of the variation in time between heartbeats, in other words, how long does it take for your heart to go from one beat to the next.

A healthy person is going to have a higher HRV as their heart is able to respond more quickly and efficiently on-demand (I don't know exactly how that works but that's what I've read).

Although in the first part of this article I'll be taking a look at my HRV which will be slightly different to what I normally measure as I'm using a device that takes it from my chest strap. While it does a reasonable job, it does not give you the kind of overview of HRV that I usually take.

I can compare my HRV data to samples collected from people who are "healthy" and also samples from "exercise addicts" (a kind of person who is able to get several hours of training in one single day).

Polar T31

Apart from the chest strap, I'll also be using a small device to tell me my heart rate.

This is the Polar T31 which can display my heart rate on a small screen and allows me to connect it to my computer and transfer the data.

I will be using the Polar site to compare my HRV data to samples collected from people who have been training regularly and also samples from "exercise addicts".

Let The Experiment Begin

48 minutes after taking 50mg of Modafinil at 1 PM, my heart rate increased from 61 to 66 bpm while sitting in front of my computer.

Upon resumption of activity (going for a walk), my heart rate increased to 68 bpm.

After my walk, I was back to the computer for about an hour, where my heart rate remained at a steady 66 bpm (as confirmed by HRV measurements).

Then I went out to meet some friends for dinner (I ate too much) and my heart rate increased to 78 beats per minute.

Modafinil And HRV: What Happened?

Did Modafinil increase, decrease, or have no effect on my HRV?

It's been reported to improve physical endurance (on a subjective level), focus during cognitive tasks, pain tolerance, reaction time, and even athletic performance.

Modafinil has also been reported to increase heart rate which is what really got me interested in testing it out for myself.

So what happened?

First, my HRV increased from 61 to 66 bpm after 48 minutes of taking Modafinil, doing absolutely nothing (just sitting in front of my computer browsing youtube).

Then I went for a walk and my heart rate increased from 66 bpm to 68 bpm.

After that, I went out with a couple of friends and my bpm reached a peak at 78 bpm.

Now, what I find interesting is how little impact Modafinil actually had on my heart rate. I mean 66-78 bpm is nothing.

A normal, healthy bpm range is anywhere between 60 and 100 so I can't really say that Modafinil had a significant impact on my heart rate which surprises me.

If I had taken Caffeine my heart rate would have gone through the roof.