There’s plenty of evidence to back up the benefits of napping, but the mid-day snooze is far from a one-size-fits-all artform. While the time of day, duration, and sleeping surface are some of the things you probably consider when planning your siesta, you might want to start thinking about drinking a cup of coffee before you hit the hay.
The so-called “caffeine nap” or “coffee nap” was proven as an effective method for recharging in 1997, thanks to a study published in Psychophysiology. In the study, participants were tasked with completing a two-hour monotonous driving simulator and were provided with three supposedly refreshing options to improve their responsiveness.
One group was given coffee before the simulator, another was allowed to take a brief, 15-minute nap, and the final group was given both coffee and the time to nap (there was also a control group provided with a placebo). The driving simulator would be completed during the midafternoon, a known down period of alertness. (This is the reason why you always hit a wall right around 2.p.m.)
In the placebo group, there was an observed mid-afternoon sleepiness “peak.” For the caffeine-only group, that sleepiness peak was reduced significantly, while the caffeine and nap group had the sleepiness peak eliminated entirely. But what’s the rationale behind this seemingly perfect alertness cocktail?
“When coffee is consumed, the caffeine gets absorbed and starts affecting the nervous system within 30 minutes,” Dr. Kereem Bortecen from NYC Surgical Associates, told Men’s Health, “An afternoon coffee nap will give enough boost for the rest of the day until the caffeine is metabolized.”
Bortecen did warn, however, that the timing has to be just right; after you drink your cup, attempt your nap immediately. If you wait too long, you’ll exhaust your 30-minute window, and the caffeine will just kick in, leaving you wide awake, but missing out on an opportunity for refreshment.
The caffeine nap is just plain perfect for your day because it’s brief, easily executed, and entirely refreshing. Bortecen does warn that you should watch out for caffeine napping too late in the day, as caffeine remains in your system for four to five hours and could potentially throw your sleep schedule out of whack. (Just make sure you aren’t going overboard with the java—here are 7 signs that you may be drinking too much coffee.)
[Source: Men’s Health]