Why You Should Nap After Coffee

'Coffee naps' produce maximum alertness, scientists say

By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 29, 2014 1:54 PM CDT | Updated Aug 31, 2014 6:35 AM CDT

(Newser) – Debating between a cup of joe or a short nap to make it through the day? Perhaps you should try both. Scientists say a "coffee nap"—having a cup of coffee and then a 20-minute nap—will allow for maximum alertness when you wake, Vox reports. Yes, caffeine and sleep are basically polar opposites, but it takes about 20 minutes for the caffeine in coffee to go to work in your brain. There's more to it than simply killing those 20 minutes, though. It has to do with how sleep and caffeine interact with a molecule in the brain called adenosine, which makes us feel drowsy. Essentially, a nap that ends just as the caffeine kicks in clears the brain of the molecule and has us raring to go.

Not sold? A few different studies have suggested a coffee nap is better than either coffee or a nap on its own. In one British case, scientists found that people using a driving simulator after a 15-minute coffee nap drove better than those who had one or the other, a short break or a burst of cold air, Slate reports. People who had coffee naps also performed better on memory tests than those who only had a short snooze. Just don't sleep too long or you'll reach a deeper level of sleep, experts say. (Working in a windowless office? This might explain why you're sleepy.)

A 20-minute nap after a cup of joe will leave you feeling alert, scientists say.
A 20-minute nap after a cup of joe will leave you feeling alert, scientists say.   (Shutterstock)
Coffee is shown at a hotel restaurant in Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand.
Coffee is shown at a hotel restaurant in Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand.   (AP Photo/Apichart Weerawong)
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