‘Coffee’ and ‘nap’ are never seen in the same sentence, unless it’s something like ‘Coffee will prevent me from having a quality nap’, or this sentence right here.
But, there’s evidence that pairing the unlikely duo actually makes sense, and could be the energy boost you’ve been missing to get you through the day.
A coffee nap is exactly what it sounds like: drink a cup of coffee, then hit the sack as soon as you’ve drank the last drop. Yes, it’s counter-intuitive to the age-long belief that caffeine keeps you awake. But, caffeine in coffee doesn’t kick for about 30 minutes post-drinking, so sleeping immediately after isn’t impossible. The short sleep in itself is an energy jolt; power naps have long shown to improve alertness and performance.
The perfect coffee nap is about 30 minutes, meaning you’re waking up just as the caffeine is starting to kick in. So when you wake up, you’re met with a refreshing feeling of rest, and stimulation.
There’s some science that backs coffee naps, too. Research published back in 1997 in the journal Psychophysiology learned tired adults who mixed 200mg of caffeine with a nap yielded better results on a simulated driving test, compared to people who only received caffeine and a placebo.
Another study from Clinical Neurophysiology, published in 2003, split 10 young adults into five groups. Each group had a different ‘intervention’ in the middle of performing their computer tasks, with one group taking a 20-minute nap, and another had 200mg of caffeine, plus the nap. Other interventions included washing their faces post-nap, being exposed to bright lights immediately after waking up from the slumber, and simple, no-strings-attached napping.
And the most effective performance-boosting intervention went to…caffeine plus nap.
If you’re a coffee lover, or find yourself feeling tired midday, coffee naps are certainly something to consider. Additionally, they may help in keeping you from consuming excessive amounts of caffeine throughout the day, making it difficult to get some good sleep in the evening.
Having said that, there are a few contingencies to be aware of – coffee naps aren’t for everyone. People suffering from irritable bowel syndrome or sensitive stomachs should opt for green tea instead, or omit caffeine entirely. Coffee can be responsible for upsetting digestion, which would nix the benefits of a super nap anyway. And of course, if you’re super sensitive to stimulants – in other words, if coffee makes you jittery or nervous – the coffee nap strategy isn’t for you either.
Lastly, we should note that you shouldn’t try coffee naps late in the evening. The general rule of thumb is to avoid caffeine consumption six hours before bedtime, and that applies here too.
And remember: coffee naps require just a cup of coffee, not a pot, and it’s a 15-30 minute power nap, not a two-hour siesta.
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