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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 July 21, 2021

            The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

            The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

            No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

            Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

            Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

            A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

            Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

            In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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            From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

            A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

            For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

            This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

            The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

            That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

            Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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            The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

            Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

            But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

            The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

            The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

            A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

            For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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            But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

            If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

            For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

            These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

            For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

            How to Make a Reminder Works for You

            Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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            Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

            Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

            My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

            Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

            I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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            Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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            Reference

            [1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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