Drowsiness is a scourge that troubles people of all ages. You’ve tried to stave it off with coffee, but that doesn’t work quickly enough. You’ve tried adding naps to your day to gain a little extra rest, but when you wake up, you feel even sleepier than when you started. What can you do?
It may be time to combine the coffee and the nap, into what’s known as a “caffeine nap.” Though caffeine can interfere with long-term sleep, if you caffeinate immediately before a nap under twenty minutes long, you may end up more alert than when you began!
You might think it sounds strange, but caffeine naps are supported by research studies performed all over the world, including the United Kingdom and Japan.
These studies have shown that, while a lot of coffee or a lot of sleep on their own might not help keep away drowsiness, just a little coffee plus just a little sleep can lead to a lot of feeling awake!
Here’s some more information about coffee and sleep, along with some steps on how to take a caffeine nap.
How Does a Coffee Nap Work?
It’s fun to think of coffee as a magical wake-up potion, but there are very specific scientific processes at work when you drink a caffeinated beverage.
After the caffeine enters your small intestine, it is absorbed into your bloodstream, which carries the caffeine to your brain. This process takes about twenty minutes.
At the brain, the caffeine fits into receptors that are normally filled by a molecule with a similar shape, called adenosine.
Adenosine is the way your body signals to your brain that you are tired. It sends that signal by fitting into the adenosine receptors. However, with the caffeine molecules blocking the receptors, the adenosine is unable to latch on and send the message!
Caffeine does not block every single adenosine receptor, however; it fights with the adenosine to reach the receptors first.
If you drink coffee with a high frequency, your body may detect the lack of adenosine reaching the receptors and create more adenosine to pick up the slack. This is why you may find that you need to drink more coffee than you used to in order to feel less drowsy.
Sleeping naturally clears adenosine from the brain, leaving you feeling less drowsy overall, while also leaving more receptors open for the caffeine to take instead of the adenosine.
How Do Sleep Cycles Work?
Not all sleep is the same. After about twenty minutes of napping, your brain begins to enter slow-wave sleep, also known as “deep sleep.” This is the kind of sleep that is difficult to rise from.
You may have heard it referred to as “sleep inertia,” when your body is so used to being asleep that you feel tired if you wake up in the middle of it, no matter how many hours of rest you’ve gained beforehand.
Before this point, however, waking up from a nap is much easier for your brain, and you’re much more likely to be alert after a nap that was under twenty minutes long – which is why most snooze alarms are shorter than that amount of time.
Because it takes around twenty minutes to enter deep sleep, and around twenty minutes for caffeine to enter your bloodstream from the gastrointestinal tract, just less than twenty minutes is the sweet spot for an ideal coffee nap!
How to Take a Caffeine Nap
First, you drink coffee. Yes, it’s the obvious step. It’s possible to achieve a caffeine nap with a different caffeinated beverage, but studies have shown that tea and soda generally have much less caffeine in them than a cup of coffee does, and most people think coffee tastes the best anyhow.
Pour your favorite cup of coffee and drink it quickly. Iced coffee or espresso may be more viable if it’s difficult for you to drink a lot of hot liquid quickly.
Downing it quickly provides you with a longer window of time to sleep as the caffeine enters your bloodstream.
Right after you have finished the cup of coffee, immediately lie down and try to go to sleep. It’s okay if sleep doesn’t seem to come quickly; all you really need to do is reach a calm, peaceful, half-asleep state. Your body will benefit from the rest!
As you lie down, set the alarm on your clock or phone to wake you up within twenty minutes of beginning the nap. This keeps you from entering the deeper stages of sleep, and also wakes you up at the moment the caffeine starts to hit your brain, resulting in maximum alertness!
Now that you know the power of a caffeine nap, it’s time for you to take charge of your day and kick drowsiness to the curb!
Here’s a video explaining more on the caffeine nap.
Have you tried taking a caffeine nap? How did you feel?