Have a case of the Mondays? Running on empty? When you have work to do and the sheep are still lining up to be counted, it can be quite difficult to maintain your normal, human-dynamo levels of productivity. Most of us reach for coffee as a go-to solution for drowsy days, but it turns out that pairing that that cup of coffee with a quick power nap may make both more effective.
Stand Back! We’re Using Science
At first blush, coffee and naps might seem to cancel each other out, but scientific evidence suggests that drinking coffee right before a taking a power nap works better for restoring alertness than either solution does on its own.
How does it work? Put on your science goggles!
When you’re awake, a compound called adenosine accumulates in your brain. As adenosine levels rise, you start to get sleepy. Very sleepy… Hey! Wake Up! We’ve got science to do! Anyway, when you sleep, your body breaks down adenosine. When you wake up in the morning, your adenosine levels are at their lowest level of the day, making you feel bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. But if you didn’t get enough sleep, those adenosine levels may be higher than they should be, contributing to your overall feelings of drowsiness.
Coffee Naps to the Rescue
Still with us after all the science talk? Great. We still haven’t explained why coffee naps work, but we’re getting to that. Caffeine’s stimulating effects compete with the sleepy-time effects of adenosine, but as you know, sleeping actually breaks this compound down. Caffeine’s alertness-boosting effect typically peaks at about 30 minutes after the caffeine is consumed. Of course, adenosine levels continue to rise during that half-hour period as well… unless you’re sleeping. If you take a nap while your cup of coffee is taking effect, there will be less adenosine in your brain for the caffeine to compete with. As a result, you’ll feel more alert than you would if you’d just taken a nap, or just had a cup of coffee.
The Perfect Coffee NapWe know you’re tired, so we’ll break it down for you.
- Step one: find a quiet space
- Step two: Drink a cup of quality coffee
- Step three: set your phone’s alarm for 20-30 minutes
- Step four: zzzzzzzzzz
- Step five: Wake up and show your to-do list who’s boss
Easy enough, right?
Don’t Overdo It
Coffee naps can work in a pinch, but if you’re finding that you need several per day to keep going, then you may want to reconsider your sleep habits. Try staying away from screens for two hours before bedtime, slowing down on the coffee during the afternoon, or just going to bed earlier. We hope the coffee nap helps you get through the occasional drowsy day and perform to the level we all know you’re capable of. Until next time, happy napping, and enjoy your java!