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When Coffee Isn’t Enough: Science Says You Should Try Coffee Nap To Be Super Productive

When Coffee Isn’t Enough: Science Says You Should Try Coffee Nap To Be Super Productive

I don’t know about you, but coffee has pretty much become a staple in my diet. I usually start my day off with two cups (at the least), and go through several more as the hours pass by. If I’m lucky, I’ll even top it off with a triple latte or something crazy like that.

    I think I’m going to pause now and get another cup.

    Thanks to my (minor) addiction, I’m always looking for new ways to prove that coffee (or more generally speaking, caffeine) is in some way beneficial to your health. In this article I’ll explore one of the more unbelievable positive aspects of coffee: that it’ll make your naps more effective! If that sounds counter-intuitive, I understand. I was a bit bamboozled too before I did some more research into the subject.

    Anyways, read on to find out why taking these so-called “coffee naps” (literally the act of taking a nap right after drinking a cup of coffee) will lead to a more energetic you…

    How exactly does a coffee nap work?

      I’ll be the first to admit that I’m no scientist. That being said, I did well enough in my chemistry classes to be able to give you a basic rundown of how this works from a scientific perspective.

      First things first, I’ll go over this thing called adenosine. Basically, it’s a substance that builds up in your brain while you’re awake. Once it surpasses a certain threshold, you become drowsy, and that feeling will get progressively more intense until you feel absolutely obligated to rest your head on your keyboard and fall asleep.

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      Coffee is effective at keeping drowsiness at bay because it’s able to combat the effects of adenosine. Of course, there’s no better alternative to eliminating tiredness than a full night of sleep, where adenosine is essentially flushed out of your brain (more on that in a bit).

      Knowing this, it becomes easier to see why a coffee nap is more effective at defeating the stereotypical 2pm crash than either coffee or naps alone. By itself, coffee will work to block adenosine from connecting to your brain, but if you’re already drowsy it will have to work hard to compete against all of the chemical buildup in your head. If you only take a nap, you’ll get rid of a lot of adenosine, but simultaneously you’re leaving your brain receptors wide open for more to return as soon as you wake up.

      Here’s the key: it takes about twenty minutes for caffeine to take effect. This means that in order to perform a coffee nap, you have to slurp down your cup of java and quickly find a place to rest. This will give you a little under twenty minutes for a nap, which is good, as napping for any longer than that can lead to sleep inertia (basically you want to keep your naps short or you’ll enter deep sleep, which is harder to wake up from).

      If your timing is on track, the caffeine will hit your brain as soon as you wake up from your short nap. Your brief respite will have cleared the adenosine from your brain, and the caffeine will block any more from entering for a period of time.

      Research proving the coffee nap’s effectiveness.

        Conceptually speaking, it’s no wonder why a coffee nap is superior to just drinking coffee or taking a nap. You get the best of both worlds. Still, it can’t hurt to look at some of the research proving this point definitively.

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        First, let’s look at coffee itself. We know about its anti-drowsy effects, and I’ve talked already about what it does to adenosine. In addition to that, its been known to boost people’s focus and ability to come up with imaginative ideas. Indeed, according to author Mason Currey, “Beethoven and Proust, Glenn Gould and Francis Bacon, and Jean-Paul Sartre and Gustav Mahler” all benefited from the brain-boosting effects of coffee.

        Not only that, but coffee is a known stress-reliever, so much so that Navy (freaking) Seals have been known to use the stuff to help them deal with stressful situations. Pretty cool, huh?

        And if stress-relief and mind-enhancing properties weren’t enough, coffee also fortifies your body for intense workouts, meaning you’ll be able to run faster and push yourself harder for a longer period of time. With how awesome coffee is, is it any wonder that combining it with naps has an extremely beneficial effect? Let’s look at the evidence:

        One study from Japan gave memory tests both to subjects who had taken coffee naps, and those who had taken regular naps. The results were clear: those who had done the former fared better than their counterparts.

        Folks in England tested this theory as well, evaluating the driving abilities of those who either took a coffee nap, drank coffee, drank a placebo (decaf), or just napped for fifteen minutes. Those who coffee napped were the clear victors.

        In yet another study, researchers wanted to see whether or not coffee naps could sustain a person throughout a 24 hour period of no-sleep. They used two groups, each of which were allowed to take naps throughout the day instead of sleeping the usual 8 hours. One was given coffee before naps, the other a placebo. As the day dragged on, the placebo group received markedly lower scores on cognition tests than their caffeinated brethren.

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        Evidently, attacking adenosine in two ways rather than one does lead to more alert individuals. While it might be difficult to time a coffee nap properly, there’s no question that there are benefits to giving it a try.

        So, how do I take a coffee nap?

          As I’ve hinted at earlier, it’s all about the timing. Even if caffeine makes you jittery and you’re leery of being able to nap at all after ingesting it, science has proven that coffee naps work when done correctly. You’ve got a decent fifteen to twenty minute window to work with here, and on top of that, you don’t even have to nap well for it to work. In one of the studies I cited earlier, coffee nap subjects who “half-slept” after drinking their coffee still received the same benefits as those who dozed off completely.

          Anyways, the directions for taking a coffee nap are pretty simple. For one, it doesn’t have to be coffee; anything with caffeine will do. Though in my opinion, coffee is superior to tea, soda, and energy drinks, and it contains way more caffeine to boot.

          Next is probably the most important step: you need to drink it fast. This is a problem for me since I usually dawdle and take my time daintily sipping my coffee in the morning. For a coffee nap, you have to mean business. That means chugging the contents of your mug in a minute, maybe less.

          Once you’ve got it all down, the clock is ticking. You now have approximately twenty minutes to find a comfortable position and try your darnedest to fall into a nice state of nap-sleep. Remember to set an alarm or something, because dozing off for too long will ruin everything.

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          After your alarm goes off (or your co-worker slaps you awake), you should be good to go. Your brain will be prepped and ready to deal with the next several hours of drudgery! Huzzah!

          Happy coffee napping. Let me know how this worked for you in the comments below!

            Stay caffeinated, my friends!

             

            Featured photo credit: Coffee_Grains_8314 (3).JPG/ MorgueFile via mrg.bz

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            Last Updated on September 24, 2020

            17 Ways Learn New Skills Faster and Enjoy the Process

            17 Ways Learn New Skills Faster and Enjoy the Process

            In the movie The Matrix, everyone was intrigued with the ability that Neo and his friends possessed to learn new skills in a matter of seconds. With the incredible rise in technology today, the rapid learning in the movie is becoming much more of a reality than you realize.

            The current generation has access to more knowledge and information than any before it. Through the internet, we are able to access all sorts of knowledge to answer almost every conceivable question. To become smarter, it’s more about the ability to learn faster, rather than being a natural born genius.

            Here are 17 ways to kickstart your Matrix-style learning experience in a short amount of time.

            1. Deconstruct and Reverse Engineer

            Break down the skill that you want to learn into little pieces and learn techniques to master an isolated portion. The small pieces will come together to make up the whole skill.

            For example, when you’re learning to play the guitar, learn how to press down a chord pattern with your fingers first without even trying to strum the chord. Once you are able to change between a couple of chord patterns, then add the strumming.

            2. Use the Pareto Principle

            Use the Pareto Principle, which is also known as the 80 20 rule. Identify the 20% of the work that will give you 80% of the results. Find out more about the 80 20 rule here: What Is the 80 20 Rule (And How to Use It to Boost Productivity)

            Take learning a new language for example. It does not take long to realize that some words pop up over and over again as you’re learning. You can do a quick search for “most commonly used French words,” for example, and begin to learn them first before adding on the rest.

            3. Make Stakes

            Establish some sort of punishment for not learning the skill that you are seeking. There are sites available that allow you to make a donation toward a charity you absolutely hate if you do not meet your goals. Or you can place a bet with a friend to light that fire under you.

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            However, keep in mind that several studies have shown that rewards tend to be more motivating than punishment[1].

            4. Record Yourself

            Seeing yourself on video is a great way to learn from your mistakes and identify areas that you need to improve. This is very effective for any musicians, actors, speakers, performers, and dancers.

            5. Join a Group

            There are huge benefits to learning in a group. Not only are you able to learn from others but you’ll be encouraged to make progress together. Whether it’s a chess club, a mastermind group, or an online meet-up group, get connected with other like-minded individuals.

            6. Time Travel

            Visit the library. Although everything is moving more and more online, there are still such things called libraries.

            Whether it’s a municipal library or your university library, you will be amazed at some of the books available there that are not accessible online. Specifically, look for the hidden treasures and wisdom contained in the really old books.

            7. Be a Chameleon

            When you want to learn new skills, imitate your biggest idol. Watch a video and learn from seeing someone else do it. Participate in mimicry and copy what you see.

            Studies have shown that, apart from learning,[2]

            “Mimicry is an effective tool not only to create ties and social relationships, but also for maintaining them.”

            Visual learning is a great way to speed up the learning process. YouTube has thousands of videos on almost every topic available.

            8. Focus

            Follow one course until success! It’s easy to get distracted, to throw in the towel, or to become interested in the next great thing and ditch what you initially set out to do.

            Ditch the whole idea of multitasking, as it has been shown to be detrimental and unproductive Simply focus on the one new skill at hand until you get it done.

            9. Visualize

            The mind has great difficulty distinguishing between what is real and what is imagined. That is why athletes practice mentally seeing their success before attempting the real thing[3].

            Visualize yourself achieving your new skill and each step that you need to make to see results. This is an important skill to help when you’re learning the basics or breaking a bad habit.

            Take a look at this article to learn how to do so: How to Become a Person Who Can Visualize Results

            10. Find a Mentor

            Success leaves clues. The best short cut to become an expert is to find an expert and not have to make the mistakes that they have made.

            Finding out what NOT to do from the expert will fast-track your learning when you want to learn new skills. It is a huge win to have them personally walk you through what needs to be done. Reach out and send an email to them.

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            If you need help learning how to find a mentor, check out this article.

            11. Sleep on It

            Practice your new skill within four hours of going to sleep.

            Josh Kaufman, author of The Personal MBA, is a noted rapid learning expert. He says that any practice done within this time frame causes your brain to embed the learning more rapidly into its neural pathways. Your memory and motor-mechanics are ingrained at a quicker level.

            12. Use the 20-Hour Rule

            Along with that tip, Kaufman also suggests 20 as the magic number of hours to dedicate to learning the new skill.

            His reasoning is that everyone will hit a wall early on in the rapid learning stage and that “pre-committing” to 20 hours is a sure-fire way to push through that wall and acquire your new skill.[4]

            Check out his video to find out more:

            13. Learn by Doing

            It’s easy to get caught up in reading and gathering information on how to learn new skills and never actually get around to doing those skills. The best way to learn is to do.

            Regardless of how unprepared you feel, make sure you are physically engaged continuously. Keep alternating between research and practice.

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            14. Complete Short Sprints

            Rather than to force yourself into enduring hours upon hours of dedication, work in short sprints of about 20-30 minutes, then get up and stretch or take a short walk. Your brain’s attention span works best with short breaks, so be sure to give it the little rest it needs.

            One study found that, between two groups of students, the students who took two short breaks when studying actually performed better than those who didn’t take breaks[5].

            15. Ditch the Distractions

            Make sure the environment you are in is perfect for your rapid-learning progress. That means ditching any social media, and the temptation to check any email. As the saying goes, “Out of sight, out of mind.”

            Before you sit down to learn new skills, make sure that potential distractions are far from sight.

            16. Use Nootropics

            Otherwise known as brain enhancers, these cognitive boosters are available in natural herbal forms and in supplements.

            Many students will swear by the increased focus that nootropics will provide[6], particularly as they get set for some serious cramming. Natural herbal nootropics have been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic traditions to improve the mind and learning.

            Find out more about brain supplements in this article.

            17. Celebrate

            For every single small win that you experience during the learning process, be sure to celebrate. Your brain will release endorphins and serotonin as you raise your hands in victory and pump your fits. Have a piece of chocolate and give yourself a pat on the back. This positive reinforcement will help you keep pushing forward as you learn new skills.

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            The Bottom Line

            Learning a new skill should be exciting and fun. Whether you use online courses, real world experience, YouTube videos, or free online resources, take time to learn in the long term. Keep picturing the joy of reaching the end goal and being a better version of yourself as continual motivation.

            More Tips on How to Learn New Skills

            Featured photo credit: Elijah M. Henderson via unsplash.com

            Reference

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