Provigil, a prescription medication used to treat extreme daytime drowsiness and fatigue, cannot cure excessive sleepiness, although it can improve alertness and wakefulness, according to WebMD. It is commonly prescribed to reduce daytime fatigue and somnolence associated with sleep apnea, narcolepsy and shift-work sleep disorder.
Provigil, commonly known by the generic name modafinil, is believed to act on neurotransmitters in the brain by disrupting the transfer of dopamine to nerve cells, thereby increasing the amount of dopamine in the brain, states Everday Health. The result is an increased sense of alertness and wakefulness as well as a temporary improvement in short-term memory.
Provigil is typically prescribed for a period lasting no more than three months and is often used in conjunction with complementary therapies to treat sleep apnea and other sleep disorders, notes Drugs.com. Provigil cannot cure excessive daytime sleepiness, nor can it cure the condition's underlying causes: narcolepsy, sleep apnea, shift-work sleep disorder, and other sleep-related maladies, reports WebMD.
Provigil causes a few side effects, most of which are mild and temporary, such as queasiness, anxiety and headaches, notes Everyday Health. In some cases, Provigil can cause serious side effects, such as chest pains, skin rashes, hallucinations, depression or suicidal thoughts. Those with certain medical conditions, such as kidney disease, heart disease or liver disease, should be cautious when using Provigil.