I love a nap. Well, I love a nap until it’s time to wake up. I can never seem to find that sweet spot where I wake up refreshed. I’ve played around with the amount of time, but I always wake up groggy and end up guzzling coffee.
Enter the coffee nap.
The coffee nap is when you drink a cup of coffee before you take a 20 minute (or shorter) nap. I can, without a doubt, say that my life has improved since discovering the coffee nap. Conventional wisdom says to avoid caffeine when trying to sleep, but it actually takes the caffeine about 20 minutes to travel through your small intestines to enter your bloodstream and brain. If you’re asleep for those 20 minutes, you’re going to wake up feeling great.
This video from Vox explains:
“There’s a molecule inside your brain called adenosine and it plugs into little receptors inside your brain and makes you feel tired. Adenosine is a byproduct of brain activity, so it builds up throughout the day and starts to slow down your neurons. Caffeine chemically looks a whole lot like adenosine, and when you ingest caffeine and it enters your brain, it blocks adenosine from fitting into those receptors.”
Caffeine keeps your brain from slowing down. Taking a nap naturally clears out adenosine from your brain so the caffeine has no competition when it’s trying to fit into your brain's receptors.
One study found that people who took a 15-minute coffee nap went on to make fewer errors while driving than those that took either just a nap or drank coffee alone. A Japanese study found that subjects who had coffee-napped made fewer errors on a series of memory tests.
“The challenge of the coffee nap is to time it just right. You want to drink it quickly, so it may be you could do espresso shots or iced coffee if that makes it easier. And then set an alarm before you fall asleep to wake up within 20 minutes," Vox reports.
"Because if you nap too long, you’re much more likely to enter deeper stages of sleep, and you’ll have what scientists call sleep inertia, which is basically grogginess.”
I do this when I’m feeling extra tired. If you can time it right it really works.
Bonus info: For more in-depth reading on the coffee nap, check out Vox’s article, "Scientists agree: Coffee naps are better than coffee or naps alone."