International Coffee Day: Feel tired all the time? Power through the day with a coffee nap

Published on:1 October 2021, 10:04am IST
You may think having coffee before a nap is going to ruin your sleep, but on International Coffee Day, let's tell you otherwise!
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Do coffee and sleep have a connection? Image courtesy: Shutterstock
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A strong and aromatic cuppa can really do wonders, right? If brewed right, the taste, and texture of rich coffee beans can really energise you, and revitalise your senses. That’s exactly why we yearn for a huge mug of coffee every time we want to wake up! Whether it’s early mornings or late nights, coffee has truly been a solid companion.

But have you ever thought of having it just before taking a nap? No, right? Because it seems completely counter-intuitive. Well, let’s just say it isn’t because ‘coffee naps’ are real, and we are here to tell you all about them. Excited to know? Let’s go! 

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Does coffee make you sleepy or sleepless? Image courtesy: Shutterstock
What are coffee naps?

As the name suggests, these is all about consuming coffee before a nap. That’s because it helps to boost energy levels, largely due to its effect on adenosine, a chemical that is believed to promote sleep. Here’s how it works — every time you feel tired, it means adenosine is circulating in your body in large amounts. But when you sleep, these levels slowly and steadily decline. 

When you have coffee, the caffeine prevents adenosine from being received by your brain. It doesn’t decrease the levels; instead, it restricts it. No wonder, your drowsiness disappears. According to a study titled Caffeine and Adenosine published by the National Library of Medicine, coffee before a nap is likely to boost energy levels. That’s because sleep helps your body get rid of adenosine. In this way, caffeine has to compete with less adenosine for the receptors in your brain. 

In a nutshell, sleep boosts the effects of coffee, by increasing the availability of receptors for caffeine in your brain. So, that’s exactly why a coffee nap is going to help boost your energy levels. A no-brainer, right?

How do you time your coffee intake and naps?

Timing is of essence, if you want to try a coffee nap. According to a study titled Suppression of sleepiness in drivers: a combination of caffeine with a short nap, the best way to take a coffee nap is to have coffee right before falling asleep (about 15-20 minutes before that). That’s how long it takes for caffeine to show its effects. 

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How much coffee and when you consume it makes a difference on your sleep quality. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Limiting coffee naps to about 30 minutes or under is beneficial, else you may fall into a deep sleep called slow-wave sleep. If you wake up during that stage, it can lead to sleep inertia, which is a state of drowsiness. 

Another study that had 12 healthy adults found that those who had 400 mg of coffee (about four cups of coffee), either six, three, or even zero hours before bed, had disturbed sleep. It is best to take coffee naps six hours before you retire for the day. 

Of course, the quantity of caffeine is also an important factor. Research suggests that 200 mg of caffeine (about two cups of coffee) is what you need to be more alert and energised upon waking.

Do coffee naps really boost energy?

More research needs to be done in this regard but there are certain studies that show the relevance of coffee naps. 

A study that included 12 adults had them consuming 200 mg of caffeine, followed by a 15-minute nap, before they were placed in a driving simulator for two hours. They felt 91% less sleepy, as compared to those who didn’t have coffee and a nap. In fact, the study also went on to reveal that even those who didn’t fall asleep completely during the nap had increased energy levels. 

Another small study showed that consuming 200 mg of caffeine, followed by a 20-minute nap, works better at improving energy and performance in computer-related tasks, instead of napping plus washing your face, or being exposed to bright light. 

Also Read: Eureka! A study reveals that drinking coffee may prevent Covid-19

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Black coffee works best. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
The last word

Yes, coffee naps do work, but not when you go for the flavoured variety or a cuppa that is loaded with sugar. Black coffee is a healthier option. 

Moreover, remember that consuming caffeine in excessive amounts can increase your anxiety or make you restless. It may also disrupt your sleep cycle if consumed less than six hours before bed. 

So, go for a cuppa and nap right after – after all, a coffee nap does sound enticing enough!

Geetika Sachdev Geetika Sachdev

An independent writer and journalist, Geetika loves sharp and fresh humour, just like her coffee! If not writing, you'll find her cafe-hopping and raiding the best book stores in town.