Coffee nap? Ever heard of the term? I know, drinking coffee before a nap may seem counterintuitive. But, many people endorse this habit as a way to boost energy levels.
This article provides a detailed look at the science behind coffee naps and whether they offer benefits.
What Is a Coffee Nap?
A coffee nap refers to drinking coffee before sleeping for a short period of time.
This is thought to boost energy levels because of its effect on adenosine, a chemical that promotes sleep. When you feel tired, adenosine circulates through your body in high amounts. After you fall asleep, adenosine levels begin to drop.
Caffeine competes with adenosine for receptors in your brain. So while caffeine doesn’t decrease adenosine in your body as sleep does, it prevents this substance from being received by your brain. Therefore, you feel less drows.
Scientists suspect that drinking coffee before a nap may boost energy levels, as sleep helps your body get rid of adenosine. In turn, caffeine has to compete with less adenosine for the receptors in your brain.
In other words, sleep may enhance the effects of coffee by increasing the availability of receptors for caffeine in your brain. That’s why a coffee nap may increase energy levels more than just drinking coffee or sleeping.
You may think that drinking coffee would prevent you from napping, but keep in mind that it takes some time until your body feels the effects of caffeine.
Timing Your Intake for Maximum Benefits of Coffee Naps
Most experts propose that the best way to take a coffee nap is to consume caffeine right before falling asleep for approximately 15–20 minutes. This timing is suggested partially because it takes about that long to feel the effects of caffeine. It’s thought that limiting coffee naps to less than 30 minutes may prevent this.
Most research suggests that 200 mg of caffeine — about two cups of coffee — is the approximate amount you need to feel more alert and energized upon waking.
Benefits of Coffee Naps
What are the benefits of coffee naps? Though the logic behind coffee naps seems plausible, research to support the claims that they increase energy more than naps or coffee alone is limited.
However, the few studies that exist are promising.
• A study in 12 adults showed that participants who took 200 mg of caffeine followed by a 15-minute nap before being placed in a driving simulator for two hours felt 91% less sleepy behind the wheel than those who didn’t have caffeine and a nap.
• A similar study in 10 people determined that those who took 150 mg of caffeine before sleeping for less than 15 minutes felt significantly less drowsy during their two hours in a driving simulator, compared to the control group.
• Another small study showed that taking 200 mg of caffeine followed by a 20-minute nap is more effective at improving energy and performance in computer tasks than napping plus face washing or exposure to bright light.
While the results of these studies imply that coffee naps are effective at boosting energy, they’re small and use caffeine in pill form. More research is needed to assess how liquid coffee before naps improves energy and alertness upon waking.
Should You Take Coffee Naps?
It’s not surprising that many people want to try taking coffee naps to boost energy levels or improve alertness.
If you’re interested in incorporating coffee naps into your day, keep in mind the type and amount of coffee you drink.
• The dose of caffeine used in most studies is equivalent to approximately two cups of coffee. Consuming this amount of liquid coffee likely has the same effects as taking caffeine pills before a nap, but has not been tested.
• Furthermore, drinking coffee with added sugars or flavors before sleeping may decrease the effectiveness of a coffee nap — black coffee is a healthier option.
• Finally, excessive caffeine intake can cause restlessness, anxiety, muscle tremors and other issues in some people. Caffeine may also disrupt sleep if consumed less than six hours before bed.
Click here to read about benefits of coffee naps.