How to Power Up Your Day With a Coffee Nap

Updated on February 17, 2017

Caffeine Is Not Always the Enemy of Sleep

Everyone knows it is best to avoid consuming caffeine too close to bedtime, so why would anyone consider combining coffee with a nap? Strange as it may seem, scientific evidence proves coffee napping works. It's just a matter of timing it right. The effect of the caffeine generally takes 20 minutes to kick-in. So as long have you have not been consuming caffeine prior to your intended nap time, and become overstimulated, a strong cup of coffee, taken just before napping, can be extremely beneficial because the caffeine will begin to act at the time your nap ends, allowing you to awake feeling more invigorated.

20 Minutes to Invigorate Your Day

Origin of the Coffee Nap

The coffee nap is based on research conducted at Loughborough University in Leicestershire, England. The researchers wanted to establish if a combination of caffeine and a short nap could help invigorate sleepy car drivers. Previous research had revealed a dose of caffeine, taken 15 minutes before a nap, initiated a 60-minute reprieve from sleepiness, and the researchers wanted to explore this further.

Twelve "sleepy individuals" took part in the study. The sleepiness was induced by a 120-minute monotonous trip in a car simulator. They were then given either 200mg of caffeine or a placebo and allowed a 30-minute break to take a nap. The resultant data showed the participants who took a caffeine nap woke up more refreshed and mentally alert than the ones who napped without caffeine.

How to Take a Coffee Nap

Although it is possible to take a coffee nap at any time, the most effective time to use the technique is up to a couple of hours after lunch because it helps banish mid-afternoon energy slumps. Anyone driving a car or other vehicle should find it relatively easy to find a place to park and take a nap, but people working in offices or factories etc may find they have to plan the time and place of their nap around their work environment.

1. Find a Good Place to Nap

The first thing to do is find a suitable location. It needs to be somewhere quiet where you will not be disturbed. Some people may find the simplest thing to do is pop out to their car and recline the seat, but it is possible to take a successful coffee nap by sitting on a chair and placing your head on your hands, at a desk or table.

2. Drink Some Coffee

The scientists at Loughborough University gave the test subjects a 200mg dose of caffeine, but some people may find they need a little more or slightly less. A 16-ounce cup of coffee generally provides around 200mg of caffeine, a 120-ounce Starbucks "tall" coffee should provide around 240-260mg of caffeine. If you don't like coffee you could use a caffeine tablet, like Pro-Plus, instead. Some brands of energy drink also contain enough caffeine, but energy drinks are rich in sugar, so they could deliver a rush of glucose that may make napping impossible. If you are using coffee you may want to cool it with some cold water because you will need to drink it quite fast.

3. Set Your Alarm

You will need to set an alarm to go off in 15 to 20 minutes time. This is important because if you are at work your employer will not be impressed to find you (over) sleeping on the job. Even if you are taking a coffee nap at home, setting an alarm is still a very important third step. If the nap continues for too long you may drift into slow-wave sleep and will likely feel groggy when you wake up.

4. Get Your Head Down

You've found a good place, had your coffee and set the alarm. Now all you need to do is get your head down and start counting a few sheep.

Finding a good place to nap is easier for some than others.
Finding a good place to nap is easier for some than others.

Final Thoughts

Although research shows taking a coffee nap can be a good way of avoiding a mid-afternoon energy slump, the technique may not be suitable for everyone. People who regularly consume coffee or other sources of caffeine throughout the morning may find they are so loaded with caffeine they are unable to sleep. People who are overly sensitive to caffeine may also find a coffee nap is not for them. Still others may be confined to work environments that do not provide a suitable location.

However, for those who can use the technique, a coffee nap offers a lot of value and, in the case of car drivers etc, it may even have the potential to save lives. Statistics gathered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimate 100,000, police-reported crashes per year are caused by driver fatigue. This results in an estimated 1,550 deaths. The best thing to do is avoid getting behind the wheel if you are tired, but if coffee nap provides you with the extra invigoration you need, then it's a good way to go.

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