Wild guess: If you’re reading this, you’re probably tired. Maybe you’re an essential worker. Or maybe you’ve found out it’s hard keeping things from falling apart at home. In any case, you probably lust over the thought of catching a power nap, huh? Well, here is a pro-tip on how to boost your power nap and be at your best on the other side: it’s called a caffeine nap.
What is a caffeine nap?
A caffeine nap is when you pop a caffeine pill right before you lay down for a 15–to–20-minute nap. It might sound counterintuitive because we’ve always been told that caffeine interferes with sleep, but the science of the caffeine nap says otherwise! In fact, studies show that caffeine naps are better than coffee or naps by themselves (we’ll get to those studies later!).
If you want to understand how the caffeine nap works, you have to understand how caffeine works (if you don’t care how it works, you just want get your caffeine pills now and get napping, be our guest!).
How caffeine works
Molecules called adenosine fit into receptors in your brain to tell your body to rest. But, when caffeine gets into your bloodstream, it competes with adenosine for spots in those receptors. The more receptors caffeine takes up, the less your brain thinks its tired. That’s how caffeine gives you energy!
How caffeine naps work
Here’s where the lifehack comes into play. Sleeping naturally clears adenosine from the brain. While sleeping, the brain doesn’t need adenosine to tell it to rest! Caffeine takes 15 to 20 minutes to reach the bloodstream. So when you wake up, caffeine will reign supreme on your receptors. Without competition from adenosine, the caffeine in your bloodstream will give you more energy and focus when you wake up.
Here’s the rub: you can’t sleep for longer than 20 minutes. Longer naps allow your brain to get into deep sleep. So, you’ll be hazy and lethargic when you wake up. Keep the naps under 20 minutes and thank us later.
Studies prove it
Sound too good to be true? Here’s the science. This study shows that driving incidents drop drastically when you take caffeine naps instead of napping or drinking coffee.
Another study found that caffeine naps have a positive impact on memory tests compared with people who napped and splashed themselves with cold water (you know you’ve tried that before).
In another test, young men who went without proper sleep for 24 hours took cognition tests (how well your brain works). The men who took caffeine naps throughout the day outperformed the men who took regular naps. Not only did the caffeine nappers do better, they performed as well on tests as they did on a full night of sleep!
How to take a caffeine nap
If you’ve read this far, you probably already have your caffeine pills and are ready to start caffeine napping. Here’s how you do it.
Step 1: Be tired
Step 2: Pop a caffeine pill
Step 3: Set an alarm for 20 minutes
Step 4: Lay down for a nap. Even if you don’t fall asleep right away, or at all, lay in a calm, half-sleep state and let your brain and body relax.
Step 5: Wake up
Step 6: Be awesome!