How to Take a Coffee (Power) Nap The Right Way

We know what you’re thinking. There’s no way that drinking a cup of coffee and then taking a nap would work. After all, isn’t caffeine a stimulant that keeps us awake?

Although it seems like a contradiction, biohackers have known about the benefits of coffee naps for years. What’s more, it turns out that if you’re feeling tired, then combining caffeine with a nap is more effective at making you feel alert than a nap or a cup of coffee consumed alone.

We’ll dive into the science of why this works so well and give you some tips on how to take a coffee nap the right way. If you’ve been looking for an edge at work or school, this could be a game changer.

What Are Coffee Naps?

This type of nap involves drinking a cup of coffee and then immediately lying down for a 20-minute nap. If you’re pressed for time, you could still get benefits with a 15-minute session. However, avoid napping for longer than 20 minutes. Otherwise, you risk going into a deep sleep, which will cause you to feel groggy when you wake up and will negate the benefits.

Opt for coffee in its true form without adding sugar or cream. The sugar can cause an unnatural energy spike and crash later, while cream or milk could interfere with your digestion. The beverage should also be consumed quickly, so if you’re someone who likes to skip, choose an espresso instead.

If you absolutely hate the taste of this elixir, try a caffeine pill with a dose of 200 milligrams. Skip the sodas (too much sugar) and energy drinks because the carbonation could also interfere with your ability to fall asleep.

How It Works

The reason why this works is surprisingly simple. When we drink coffee (or anything for that matter), it has to pass through your digestive system before it enters your bloodstream. Therefore, the energy boost from caffeine doesn’t kick in right away. It takes about twenty minutes or so before you feel anything. You can probably see where we’re going with this, right?

So, if you can manage to lie down and rest immediately after consuming a caffeinated beverage, then you’ve got some time before it starts to work on your alertness levels. By lying down for a 20-minute rest, you’ll be waking up just as the caffeine is beginning to affect your brain.

Read more: You can find out more about caffeine and sleep here

How Science Explains It

There’s one more piece of the puzzle that makes this type of napping strategy even more genius. It has to do with adenosine, a chemical in the brain that causes drowsiness. The reason that people love this beverage so much is that when they drink it, the caffeine binds to the brain’s adenosine receptors, blocking them from causing drowsiness.

However, adenosine doesn’t just lie back and let a foreign stimulant take its spot. When you’re feeling sleepy, and adenosine binds to the receptors, the caffeine you’re drinking won’t be able to fill all of the receptors. By napping, your body naturally clears away the adenosine, making more receptors available for the caffeine.

So, as you can see, coffee naps are more effective at curing drowsiness than a cup of coffee or a nap taken alone! This is a classic example of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts.

Multiple studies have been done to scientifically prove how effective this method is. Scientists found that people did better in driving simulators and cognitive tests after taking a caffeine nap.

white cup of coffee

How to Take a Caffeine Nap

Find a Comfortable Place

You’ll need a cozy spot to lie down either at home or the office. If you’re at school or work in a cubicle, try napping in your car or find a spot in the library or an unused room. Wherever you choose, make sure you’ll be uninterrupted for the duration of your 20-minute session.

Read more: Here are some tips that you can try and they can help you fall alseep anywhere

Grab a Cup of Coffee

Get your coffee and drink it quickly. Time is of the essence. If it’s too hot, add some ice, and if you tend to sip, opt for a shot of espresso because it’s only a couple of ounces. Don’t add sugar, chocolate sprinkles, milk or cream. Ideally, the beverage should be consumed in its purest form.

Set Your Alarm

Set the alarm for 15 to 20 minutes. Remember, if you sleep too long, then you risk waking up feeling groggy because you might enter a deep stage of sleep (learn more about 5 stages here).

Take Your Nap

Enjoy your nap! If you can’t fall completely asleep, don’t stress. Even lying there relaxing and lightly dozing could have similar benefits.

(Bonus points for those of you who get it in during the National Day of Napping!)

Girl is taking a nap on the chair

Drinks and Caffeine Content

Not all caffeinated beverages are created equal. Here are some guidelines on how much caffeine your favorite drinks have:

  • Starbucks: 260 milligrams in a 12-ounce cup
  • NOS Energy Drink: 260 milligrams in a 16-ounce can
  • Einstein Bros.: 200 milligrams in a 16-ounce cup
  • Monster & Rockstar Energy Drinks: 170 milligrams in a 16-ounce can
  • McDonald’s and Dunkin Donuts: 140 milligrams in a 16-ounce cup
  • Red Bull & Amp Energy Drinks: 80 mg in an 8-ounce can
  • Espresso: 75 mg per shot
  • Sodas: 30-60 mg in a 12-ounce can

Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of nap works if I’m not good at napping?

Some people have difficulty falling asleep during the day no matter how drowsy they might be. Others claim that they wake up feeling worse after they get up. Either way, this technique could still help.

Don’t worry if you don’t fall asleep during this time. Lying down with your eyes closed and half-dozing could still provide benefit. Also, people who claim they wake up tired after a siesta are probably napping for too long. Stay strict with the 20-minute time limit, and you’re likely to find that you wake up feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.

Is it okay to do it in the morning?

If you’re someone who struggles to wake up in the morning, then you might want to try a caffeine nap. Grab a cup of coffee as soon as you wake up, drink it, and then go back to bed for 20 minutes. While you’re taking this short rest, the lingering adenosine can clear out of your system, and then the caffeine can begin to do its work.

What are the benefits?

The most notable benefits are getting a burst of energy in the afternoon. Scientists have begun studying the effects of napping after drinking coffee, and they’ve found that the subjects they observed performed better in driving simulators and cognitive tests.

Does it have the same effects with power naps?

Yes, in fact, the two are essentially the same thing. Because a coffee nap is designed to last only 20 minutes, it’s the same length of time as a power nap. But, when you add the caffeine component, you get additional benefits and increase your potential to wake up feeling even more alert and ready to continue your day at your full potential.

Conclusion


We know this way of napping seems unconventional. We’re trained as a society to drink coffee when we want to wake up, not fall asleep. However, keep the following scientific truths in mind:

  1. Caffeine needs time to enter the system and make you feel alert.
  2. Caffeine and adenosine both compete to bind to adenosine receptors.
  3. When adenosine binds to the receptors, it makes us tired.
  4. Napping clears adenosine from the body.
  5. With no adenosine to compete with, caffeine can bind to the receptors and do its job more effectively.

Armed with this new information, now you know the potential that a coffee nap has to boost your energy and productivity levels. Let us know how it goes!

Sources and References:

  1. Coffee Nap: Can Caffeine Before a Nap Boost Energy Levels? – healthline.com
  2. Caffeine: sleep and daytime sleepiness – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

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Author: Sleep Advisor

Our team covers as many areas of expertise as we do time zones, but none of us started here as a so-called expert on sleep. What we do share is a willingness to ask questions (lots of them), seek experts, and dig deep into conventional wisdom to see if maybe there might be a better path towards healthy living. We apply what we learn not only to our company culture, but also how we deliver information to our over 12.7M readers.

Sleep research is changing all the time, and we are 100% dedicated to keeping up with breakthroughs and innovations. You live better if you sleep better. Whatever has brought you here, we wish you luck on your journey towards better rest.

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