Especially on a Monday morning, we all need a bit of an energy boost. Whether it’s at home, on the train, or at the office, we all grab a hot mug of joe, hoping it will give us some more alertness.
At home, or if you have a little nook in the office, you might even be able to shut your eyes for a quick break. Scientists asked: what is the absolute best way to wake yourself up if you’re feeling drowsy? Is it coffee or naps? Research shows that a combination, a so-called “coffee nap,” is actually the best.
A coffee nap is when you drink coffee right before taking a short, twenty-minute nap. This type of nap is, according to research, better than both a nap alone or a coffee alone.
This is because coffee contains caffeine, which, when absorbed into your bloodstream, heads for your brain and binds to these proteins called receptors, like a key fitting into a lock.
This action by caffeine blocks a molecule called adenosine from binding to the receptors, which usually makes you tired. By taking the “chair” that adenosine normally “sits in,” caffeine prevents you from feeling tired.
Part two of the coffee nap’s effectiveness comes from nap. How do naps make you feel less tired? The process of sleeping destroys adenosine, thereby preventing it from binding to receptors, again preventing the feeling of tiredness.
So overall, there is a one-two punch sort of pattern in the coffee nap: first, the adenosine is blocked by caffeine, and sleep destroys it. Together, it makes sense that the coffee nap is better than either coffee or nap alone.
Next time you have a chance, try it. But it is essential that the nap is only 15-20 minutes or so, as anything past that will cause you to feel groggy and be counterproductive.