Everything you wanted to know about the coffee nap

A coffee nap is a simple but effective concept. Basically, you drink a cup of Joe immediately before taking a twenty-minute nap. By the time you wake up, the caffeine from the coffee has kicked in, and you feel doubly refreshed. This has been shown to be more effective than just coffee or naps alone.

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The science of coffee

As we all know, coffee contains caffeine, which is the key ingredient to keeping you alert. It is absorbed into your bloodstream and goes straight to your brain where it binds to proteins called receptors. When the caffeine is bound to the receptors, it blocks adenosine from bonding to them, which is a molecule that makes you feel tired. Caffeine basically takes the place of adenosine which doesn’t let you get tired.

The science of naps

Naps essentially destroy adenosine, which as we know is the molecule that makes you feel tired. Teaming this up with the caffeine blocking the receptors and you have yourself one very awake brain! To get the nap just right, it is essential that it not be any longer than 20 minutes, as otherwise, you will end up in sleep inertia, which is more difficult to wake up from and will result in that groggy feeling. Try not to worry too much about falling into a deep sleep, as there is proof to suggest that even “non-sleep dozing” or a half-sleep is just as beneficial.


There have been several studies done that prove the behavioral and cognitive benefits of coffee naps and all suggest that they are more effective than coffee or naps on their own. UK studies showed that subjects who had taken a 15-minute coffee nap scored higher on a driving simulator, and in Japan, subjects scored higher on memory tests after they had had a coffee nap.

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If it’s good enough for surgeons

Coffee naps are really popular with surgeons due to the sheer level of concentration that they need to keep for hours at a time. Getting rid of their drowsiness will help keep them alert and awake during surgery, without having to take too long out of their day to rest. People who need to drive for a long period of time would really benefit from a coffee nap to keep them awake and alert while driving. As it has also been shown to help concentration, perhaps this is the key to your next exam too!

So next time you feel that awful mid-afternoon lag, drink a cup of your favorite coffee and grab a twenty-minute shut-eye. You’ll wake up feeling ready to rock!