In today’s society, most people are so busy with their everyday lives that it can be difficult to keep up. In the United States alone, over 9 million start their day with a 3-5 cups of coffee, and they continue to drink it anywhere from 5-6 more throughout their day, hoping to fuel their mind and body through it.
While coffee was once thought to be unhealthy, more research the unique drink has shown that when consumed in moderation, it actually offers some unique health benefits, including the recently discovered ability to supercharge power naps. It may sound counter-intuitive to drink coffee with your nap, but learning more about how naps and coffee go hand-in-hand will have you downing a cup before you hit the sheets.
What exactly is a Caffeine Nap?
The brain is a complicated thing, and it does more during your waking and sleeping hours than many people realize. While you’re awake, your brain builds a chemical called adenosine. It continues building throughout the day and once it reaches a certain threshold, your brain signals to the rest of your brain and body that you’re tired and you become drowsy. Even when you begin getting drowsy, the chemical continues to build until you absolutely must sleep. When you drink coffee, it keeps the effects of adenosine away.
During a caffeine nap, your body naturally dumps the adenosine, in the same way, it does during a good night’s sleep, and the coffee prevents more from connecting to your brain upon waking. The ability to both dump and prevent reattachment of adenosine is why a caffeine nap is more effective at beating an afternoon crash than either coffee or a nap alone. It takes approximately 20 minutes for coffee to take effect, which creates the perfect window for you to wake up and get the benefits from the caffeine. When you drink the coffee quickly before taking the nap and time the nap accordingly, most people are surprised with the beneficial results.
How does it work?
For a caffeine nap to be effective, you have a 20-minute window. You can spend about 1 minute drinking the coffee, the remaining 5 getting comfortable and falling asleep, and the last 15 taking your recharging coffee nap. When the nap is longer, the caffeine will still be in effect, but the brain's adenosine will not be placed properly for the energy surge to take place. If your nap goes over 15 minutes, it can lead to something called sleep inertia, which causes you to feel groggy and worse than you did, to begin with. When timed correctly, the time you spent napping will allow the adenosine to clear out of your brain, and the moment you wake from your nap, the caffeine will kick in. When the caffeine kicks in, it blocks your brain from creating any more adenosine, allowing you to feel very refreshed and ready to take on the remainder of the day.
The way you drink the coffee is also important. You should drink the cup quickly, within a minute or less. If you drink it any slower, the caffeine can quick in too quickly, and the entire process will be out of whack. Many people bring a cup of coffee to their napping area, set their timer, chug the cup and then lay down right away. If you have difficulty falling asleep quickly, a relaxation or meditation video with your headphones in is generally effective.
Research to back it up
The caffeine nap isn’t just a new fad, it’s a proven method of restoring your mind and body that was discovered through several research studies. Researchers found that a coffee nap is superior to both taking a nap and drinking a cup of coffee. Researchers discovered the method by looking at the characteristics of both aspects involved; the nap and the coffee.
Coffee is known for its anti-drowsy effects, along with its ability to boost focus and aid in imaginative ideas. Actually, many of the greats benefited from the brain-boosting effects offered by coffee, including Beethoven, Proust, and Gledd Gould.
Not only that, but coffee is also known as a stress-reliever. While many people believe coffee is bad on stress, past research has shown it’s actually beneficial in reducing stress levels.
Actually, Navy Seals are known for using coffee during high periods of stress to help them cope. Another added bonus? Coffee fortifies your body, getting it ready for intense workouts. A cup of coffee before a workout will have you going harder for longer and even a little faster!
As a result, one study conducted in Japan showed that a coffee nap not only helps users to feel more refreshed than a regular nap, but it also improved memory in the subjects involved in the study. Upon waking, those who took a coffee nap compared to a non-coffee nap, had significant improvement in their working memory, pointing back to coffees ability to improve your long and short-term memory.
Another study conducted in English also focused on the brain enhancing abilities offered from coffee. The study was based on driving abilities in those who took a coffee nap as opposed to those who didn’t. The study showed that participants who took drank coffee before their nap, rather than the decaffeinated placebo, showed a significant improvement in driving abilities.
Even more interested, the most recent study aimed to see just how far coffee naps could go. The researchers wanted to see coffee naps could sustain a person for a 24 hour period of getting no sleep, aside from the short coffee naps. There were two groups of people involved in the study, and each was allowed to take timed naps during the day, rather than sleep the standard 8 hours. One group was given coffee naps while the other was offered with the placebo. The results were astounding, as the group that didn’t take coffee naps but used the placebo showed a marked decrease in cognition, scoring lower on cognition tests given throughout the study.
It’s clear to see that coffee has some amazing abilities that go far beyond the early-morning energy boost it’s known for. Next time you feel the afternoon slump heading in, or need some time to rest and recharge, use 20 minutes of your day to sneak is a recharging and repowering coffee nap, and we can bet, you’ll never look at napping the same way again.