Drinking coffee just before a nap may not seem like a good idea. However, a lot of people choose to do it just to boost their energy levels. This article will provide a detailed look at the logic behinds these “coffee naps”. It will also explore whether such naps are actually beneficial.
What is a Coffee Nap?
A coffee nap means drinking coffee just before going to bed for a short time.
People think it will boost their energy levels as coffee affects adenosine, a chemical promoting sleep.
When you are tired, adenosine keeps circulating in your body in heavy amounts. Once you sleep, these levels begin to drop.
Caffeine competes with this adenosine for receptors present in your brain. So, it doesn’t actually decrease its amount as sleep. Rather, it prevents adenosine from attaching to its brain receptors. This is why you begin feeling less drowsy.
Scientists believe that drinking coffee just before a nap may increase your energy levels since sleep aids your body in getting rid of adenosine. As a consequence, caffeine has to compete with the lesser amount of adenosine for its receptors in the brain.
In other words, sleep might be able to enhance the effects of coffee by increasing the receptor availability of caffeine inside your brain. This is why a coffee nap might increase your energy level more than simply sleeping or taking coffee.
You may be thinking that coffee will prevent you from sleeping. Keep in mind that your body requires some time to fully experience the effects of caffeine.
How to Time Your Coffee Intake and Sleep
Most of the experts propose that the best way of taking a coffee nap is consuming caffeine just before falling asleep for about 20 minutes. This timing is suitable because it takes about this long to actually feel the effects of caffeine.
Moreover, you may fall into the slow-wave sleep if you try sleeping for half an hour or so.
If you wake up during this slow-wave sleep, you may suffer from sleep inertia, a state of disorientation and drowsiness. Limiting your coffee naps to less than half an hour can prevent this.
The time of the day you choose to take a coffee nap can also be important.
A small study of 12 adults proved that people taking 400 mg of caffeine at 6, 3, and 0 hours before bedtime all suffered from sleep disruption. Remember that 400 mg of caffeine equals four cups of coffee.
This research indicates that it may be best to take a coffee nap for six hours or more before the actual bedtime.
Finally, the quantity of caffeine consumed just before a coffee nap may also impact its efficacy. Most of the research suggests that 200 mg of caffeine is just the right amount for feeling energized as you wake up.
Do Coffee Naps Really Energize You?
Though the reason behind coffee naps seems plausible, research supporting the claims that they increase the energy even more than naps is limited.
However, there are a few studies that seem promising.
A study in 12 adults investigated the participants taking 200 mg of caffeine followed by a nap for 15 minutes. Later, a driving simulator was used for two hours. 91 percent of the people felt less sleepy behind the wheel as compared to those who did not take caffeine and a coffee nap.
Another study with 10 people researched the effects of coffee naps in people. The participants took 150 mg of caffeine before sleeping for even less than 15 minutes. They felt significantly less sleepy during a two-hour-long driving simulator.
Lastly, other research evidence suggests that caffeine consumption and taking naps together can increase the energy and alertness during night shifts. The effects are more pronounced as compared to sleep or caffeine alone.
While the results of most of such studies imply that coffee naps are effective, they are small-level. Additionally, most of them use caffeine in the form of pills.
More research is definitely needed to assess how liquid coffee before sleeping can improve alertness and energy upon waking up.
Should You Try Coffee Naps?
It may not be surprising to know that a lot of people wish to try taking coffee naps. The primary purpose of these naps is to improve alertness or energy levels.
However, the research supporting the efficacy of such naps is not enough.
If you wish to incorporate coffee naps in your day, remember the type and quantity of coffee you drink.
The dose of caffeine used in most of the studies is nearly equal to 2 cups of coffee. Consuming the same amount of liquid coffee before napping has the same effect as that of caffeine pills. However, this theory is not validated.
Moreover, drinking coffee with flavors or sugars in it before sleeping may reduce the efficacy of a coffee nap. For this reason, black coffee may be a better option.
Finally, excessive intake of caffeine can cause anxiety, restlessness, muscle tremors and other problems in some people. It may even disrupt the sleep if you consume it in less than 6 hours from the bed.
Most of the health experts agree that up to 400 mg of caffeine a day is safe for most of the people. This is roughly equal to about four cups of coffee per day.
Remember this recommended daily intake of caffeine if you wish to increase your coffee intake for coffee naps.
The Bottom Line
Coffee naps can increase energy more than sleeping or drinking coffee alone. The research to support this effect is, however, not enough.
The best way to reap maximum benefits is drinking 2 cups of coffee just before a 20-minute nap.
To avoid getting sleep disturbances during night time, try to stop drinking coffee 6 hours before bed.
Coffee naps can be worth a try, but remember not to go overboard with caffeine consumption.