When exhausted, there are two viable options to recharge: a nap or a cup of coffee. And never the twain shall meet, right? The combination seems counterintuitive, but it may change life as you know it. According to Vox, “If you caffeinate immediately before napping and sleep for 20 minutes or less, you can exploit a quirk in the way both sleep and caffeine affect your brain to maximize alertness.” The coffee nap is percolating across the nation, with some offices even encouraging such power naps, discovering a new way to stave off the 2PM slump.
The Science Behind the Sleep
So how exactly do coffee naps work? Caffeine and adenosine, a drowsiness-inducing chemical compound, compete for receptors in the brain. Adenosine builds up in the brain when awake and disperses when asleep. Resting for 20 minutes allows the brain to clear away the adenosine to make room for the caffeine as it recharges your brain. “If you can fall asleep in your nap before caffeine does that, when it’s time to wake up, you’re getting the benefits of the caffeine perfectly timed with the nap sleep benefit,” said sleep researcher Dr. David Dinges in an interview with The Huffington Post.
Scientists have observed the positive effects of the coffee nap, and experiments show that the caffeine/sleep combo works wonders for “maximizing alertness.” This NCBI study suggests that a 15 minute coffee nap counteracts the effects of sleepiness and impairments while driving. And this Japanese study found that those who took a caffeine nap before a
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