We all know that coffee is a stimulant, so what does that have to do with taking a nap? A lot as it turns out. A cup of coffee just before a nap maximizes the benefits of both coffee and sleep. Can I really have both my afternoon caffeine AND a nap and still get a good night’s sleep? The answer is a resounding yes. There’s a lot of science behind this and once we get thru the nerdy stuff of WHY we’ll talk about the HOW.
Coffee contains caffeine and caffeine is a stimulant. It works by blocking a neurotransmitter called adenosine which naturally occurs in the body and promotes feelings of sleepiness. The level of adenosine builds throughout the day and signals the body that it’s time to sleep. During sleep, adenosine is cleared from the brain, and the process starts all over again. Structurally caffeine is like adenosine—it can easily fit into the same brain cell receptors meant for adenosine, but it has to compete with adenosine for those spots. If you nap for 20 minutes after drinking coffee, you clear the brain of the sleep chemical and reduce the competition for the caffeine to work its magic in your brain. So basically, the power nap clears the adenosine just as the effects of the caffeine kick in.
THE LENGTH OF THE COFFEE NAP
Timing is everything. If you want to optimize the impact of your coffee nap, your nap should only be 15 to 20 minutes long. It takes caffeine about 20 minutes to be absorbed by the small intestines, absorbed into the blood, and reaches the brain. Your 20-minute nap cleared out some adenosine, leaving more room for the caffeine. Just be mindful that any naps longer than 30 minutes may induce what’s known as sleep inertia, creating the feeling of disorientation, reduced alertness, and grogginess after waking.
HOW TO TAKE A COFFEE NAP
This is not the time to sip and savor your coffee. You want to drink it down as quickly as possible, so iced coffee is a good choice. You also want to avoid the addition of any sugar or creamer because they will interfere with the efficacy of the caffeine. Find yourself a comfortable spot and set a timer for 20 minutes. Drink your coffee and close your eyes. That’s it. Don’t stress if you don’t fall asleep, just relax and breathe deeply.
WHEN TO TAKE YOUR COFFEE NAP
The best time for your coffee nap is in the early afternoon to get that mid-day energy and clarity boost. Do not try this too close to bedtime because caffeine can stay in your system for 6-8 hours and will lead to unwanted sleep disruptions.
Combining the benefits of coffee with a power nap has proven to be more powerful than just one or the other. Don’t take my word for it - give it a try the next time you feel that mid-afternoon slump. And for the best results, choose an organic coffee you can feel good about.
With peace, love, and respect,
Photo Credit. Ketut Subiyanto - Pexels.