Coffee Nap – What Is It And How Does It Work

If you are a morning person like me, you surely experienced an energy power down in the middle of the day.

And, as a coffee lover (obviously), you already had a cup of two (or more?) cups of coffee in order to boost your energy and reclaim focus.

As you already know, I take my coffee very seriously, and when I hear about coffee naps, the only thing to do was to research it and try it. I was hoping it won’t be another “life hack”.

Make sure you make yourself some coffee and read down what coffee naps are and how they work (or don’t?). Who knows, you might actually take nap after this.

What is a coffee nap?

A coffee nap is just what it sounds like, coffee combined with a nap. It refers to drinking coffee before sleeping for a short period of time.

Even though it might sound unbelievable and counterintuitive, a brief nap after a caffeine drink, especially coffee, has been shown to improve alertness and mental focus in several studies. (Read another study here)

For coffee naps to work, both timing and sequence are important. Coffee naps are most beneficial when taken after lunch, sometime during the mid-afternoon. Drinking coffee first, then napping for no more than 20 minutes, is key. Some research has shown that coffee naps may be better for helping people stay awake than just drinking coffee or a nap alone.

This is thought to boost energy levels because of its effect on adenosine, a chemical that promotes sleep.

How do coffee naps work?

Coffee naps work by combining the waking effects of caffeine with the restorative aspects of napping. Caffeine works by blocking a neurotransmitter called adenosine. Adenosine is a naturally occurring chemical in the body that promotes feelings of sleepiness

When you feel tired throughout the day, adenosine circulates through your body in high amounts. After you fall asleep, adenosine levels begin to drop and it’s cleared from the brain.

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 drowsy.

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 napping.

The role of the nap, or power nap, is to clear the brain of adenosine buildup, allowing caffeine to fit into open receptors. Essentially, the 20-minute power nap clears adenosine just as the effects of caffeine begin to kick in.

Are Coffee Naps Effective?

There are few studies that show the effectiveness of coffee naps, but they are limited to certain situations.

In a study that was made for sleepy drivers who need to revive their alertness, caffeine combined with a nap had been shown to enhance cognitive and physical performance, problem-solving, and mental acuity.

Building on these findings, these same researchers conducted another study that assessed driver performance after a combination of 200 milligrams of caffeine and a 15-minute nap. In a simulated driving test, the caffeine nap significantly reduced the risk of road incidents, even more than caffeine alone.

One study of night shift workers demonstrated that a combination of napping plus caffeine was the most effective method for improving alertness and performance tests evaluating reaction time, sustained attention, verbal fluency, and other cognitive skills.

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.

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. And a short 20 minutes nap has been shown to be most effective nap of all.

However, research to support the effectiveness of coffee naps is limited.

Also, for optimized health benefits from the coffee nap, you should be mindful of the type and amount of coffee you drink.

Black coffee, without added dairy products or sugars is considered to be a healthier option and won’t decrease the effectiveness of a coffee nap.

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.

Most health experts agree that up to 400 mg of caffeine a day — the equivalent of about four cups of coffee — is safe for most people.

Remember this recommended maximum daily caffeine intake if you increase your coffee consumption to start taking coffee naps.

What you need to know before taking a coffee nap

Taking a coffee nap is fairly easy if you can find time to do so in your schedule. Basically, it requires quickly consuming caffeine and then immediately napping for 20 minutes. Coffee naps should be taken in the afternoon, typically after lunch but not too close to bedtime. 

The nap space can be as simple as finding a dark, quiet room with a comfortable chair, but you can even use your car. Anywhere you feel safe where you can block out the daylight and sleep without interruptions will do.

Get yourself a cup of any black coffee, double shot of espresso for example, and drink it fairly quickly. your body will need to sleep before any effects of the caffeine kick in.

When you are done, make your alarm for 20 minutes and don’t bother yourself if you don’t sleep immediately or the complete 20 minutes. With coffee, even a non-sleep dozing state is effective.

And finally, don’t hit the snooze button. Sleeping more than that can be counterptoductive.

Final words from me

I must say, I’m happy that science is proving more and more benefits of our beloved drink, and that there’s science behind the coffee nap too.

Personally, I’ve tried it few times, and it kind of worked. Maybe I should do it more often.

Especially when I’m tight in time, I’ll definitely have this hack in mind.

How about you? Did you know about coffee nap?

Will you try it now that you know everything you need about coffee naps?

Tell me in the comments, I would love to hear from you.

Until the next time,

Enjoy Your Coffee


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