Drinking coffee and napping seems oxymoronic, like student teacher or business ethics.
But there’s both scientific and anecdotal evidence that shows combining two of the most pleasurable experiences in a day – coffee and napping – can boost your energy levels, more so than a simple power nap every could.
Here’s a quick snapshot of coffee naps, and why people are drinking the breakfast table staple before catching some midday Z’s.
What is a coffee nap?
No, a coffee nap isn’t curling up with a can of Folgers in bed. It’s simply drinking coffee before sleeping for about 15-20 minutes. Coffee naps are believed to boost energy levels because of caffeine’s relationship with adenosine, the chemical in our body that promotes sleep.
Coffee nap science
How does it all work?
When you feel tired, an abundance of adenosine travels throughout the body. When you finally fall asleep, those adenosine levels start dropping.
Caffeine in coffee goes head-to-head with adenosine for the receptors in your brain. Caffeine doesn’t reduce the amounts of adenosine in the body, but it does prevent it from being received by brain receptors. This makes you feel less drowsy.
Therefore, sleep enhances coffee and caffeine’s effects through the increase of available brain receptors, and is how a coffee nap can increase energy levels far more than either drinking coffee or sleeping alone.
There are a number of studies that support this, too. In one study, researchers from Loughborough University in the UK found that people who took a 15-minute coffee nap were less prone to driving errors than those who only drank coffee or took a nap. In a Japanese study, scientists found people who took a coffee nap before taking a bunch of memory tests scored far better than those who just napped.
How to take a coffee nap
A coffee nap is pretty straightforward – all you’ll need is a place to sleep (like a bed or your office cubicle) and a cup of coffee (duh).
First step – drink your coffee (double duh). In theory, you could use another caffeinated beverage, but tea and soda have far less caffeine, and energy drinks taste bad.
Drink the coffee quickly, so your window of sleep is as long as possible, giving your brew time to travel through your gastrointestinal tract and enter the bloodstream. If you can’t chug a hot coffee, consider an espresso or iced variant.
Once you’re done, engage in your preferred napping position. Don’t worry if you can’t fall asleep immediately – even a lazy half-sleep is beneficial to your energy levels.
Finally, and most importantly, be sure to emerge from your slumber within 20 minutes so you’re waking up just as the caffeine is starting to stimulate your brain.
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