Coffee Napping: Amp Up Your Productivity

coffee-napping

Do you ever suffer from drowsiness especially during the afternoons? Have you ever had cause to regret not being at your best during any your daily grind because you were very drowsy? And do you ever wish that you could get rid of this problem?

If so, you’re not alone. Truth is, drowsiness (especially in the afternoons) is a growing problem for most working adults.

Fortunately, however, if you belong to this group, you don’t have to suffer from drowsiness once you know how to coffee nap in the right way.

Just like the name, a coffee nap is a brief nap that you take once you've finished drinking a cup of coffee.

The reason for combining the coffee and the nap is to prevent you from being drowsy while at work and to also prevent you from oversleeping while at work.


Coffee nap vs. ordinary nap

The obvious difference between napping and coffee napping is that napping does not involve taking coffee before the nap, but coffee napping involves taking coffee before the nap.

Also, if you only have a few minutes (minimum of 20 minutes) to relax, having a coffee nap is more advisable than just having a nap.

However, if you can spare the time, take a usual nap that lasts for at least 60 minutes. The table below summarizes the 3 major differences between the two of them:

Factor

Coffee nap

Ordinary nap

Requirements

Requires you to take a cup of coffee before napping

Does not require taking anything before napping

Time

For the best results, 20 minutes is the recommended time

For the best results, a minimum of 60 - 90 minutes is the recommended time

Alarm Clock

You would need to set an alarm clock to wake you up

It is not compulsory


What do studies say about coffee napping?

caffeine-nap

Scientists observed that the combination of coffee and a nap, often called a coffee nap is more productive than either a nap or a cup of coffee separately.

This assumption was based on observations of behavior, learning, perception, and reasoning of adults that took a coffee nap. In this section, you will discover the results of some of these research.

1) Loughborough University, UK

The University of Britain at Loughborough was one of the pioneers of research into the positive effects of coffee nap.

The main goal of this research was to fight against driver sleepiness which was becoming very rampant.

The researchers allowed fatigued drivers to partake in a series of driving tests (including a driving simulator) after they took a coffee nap, they discovered that these set of drivers made fewer driving mistakes than those who only drank coffee or just took a nap.

The results of this research made local authorities to include a coffee nap in their highway code.

2) Hiroshima University, Japan

In Japan, research scientists also discovered that those who had a coffee nap before undergoing a memory tests had better performance than those who only took a nap.

Also, these people who took a coffee nap also performed better in memory tests than those who combined taking a nap with washing their faces and those who combined taking a nap with having a bright light flashed in their eyes after their nap.

3) Wright State University, USA

Another research involved 24 young men were deprived of sleep for 24 hours

12 of them were made to take a coffee nap, while the remaining 12 were made to nap without taking a coffee. When both groups were made to undergo cognition tests, those who took coffee before their naps performed remarkably better than those who didn't.


How does a coffee nap work

This is the science behind the effectiveness of coffee naps. First, you need to understand the simple process of what happens when you drink a cup of coffee.

  • After drinking the coffee, it is absorbed into your bloodstream having passed through your small intestine.
  • Caffeine's first action is to make changes to your brain chemistry by replacing adenosine to make you feel alert and awake.
  • Adenosine is a receptor in the brain that builds up naturally as you go through your daily activities. The more the build up the more tired you feel.

Benefits of a coffee nap (Science Backed)

coffee-nap-benefits

If you have ever wanted to know whether or not having a coffee nap has any benefits, then, read on. That's because in this section, you will discover six main benefits of having a coffee before nap.

1) Improvement of athletic functionalities

If you often find it difficult to exercise after coming back from work, I strongly suggest you take a brief coffee nap. It has been proven that short naps can cause better motor reaction, improve sprint times (especially for athletes) and other athletic functionalities.

For athletes who've had a poor night sleep before a competition, the benefits of using a caffeine nap cannot be overemphasized. (source)

2) Reduces stress hormones that encourage cravings

Most times when we are tired, our desire to eat increases. When we can’t find something to eat, we would still love to have something similar to food in our mouths.

For most people, those things can either be coffee, soda, sweets, or chocolate.

However, a brief 10 to 15 minutes’ nap is more effective for reducing the stress than this sweet addiction that can cause health problems associated with having unstable blood sugar.

In addition to the reduction of stress, this nap will restore and improve your willpower and concentration.
By the way, one other effective way to control your cravings is by taking a short walk after your brief power nap. (source) (source)

3) Amplifies heart functioning

It is an obvious fact that when you don't sleep properly, your coronary mortality is increased.

But new evidence from the Harvard School of Public Health And The University of Athens Medical School suggests that napping can help you to make up for this lack of sleep.

Through their research, they discovered that on average, those who took regular naps had lower coronary mortality than the people who didn't.

By definition, regular coffee naps as defined by the researchers mean napping for at least 30 minutes three times within a week. (source)

4) Reduction in stress and anxiety

In 2012, the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology And Metabolism published a study that highlighted the correlation between short 30-minute naps during the day and the consequences of stress in adults. It also took into account whether it is possible for this naps to repair any damage caused by having a poor night sleep.

For those adults who napped, their stress hormones and other biological indicators were taken and compared with those of the control group.

One of the three stress hormones measured was noradrenaline and according to the research, there was an increase of noradrenaline in adults who didn't have enough sleep, but the reverse was the case when they were allowed to nap.

Also, men who napped had an increase in their level of interleukin-6, but there was a decrease in the level of interleukin-6 for those who didn't. Interleukin-6 is the protein responsible for improving immune responses. (source)

5) Improves perception, learning and reasoning

In 2007, the Journal of Sports Sciences published a study that proved that having a coffee nap (also known as a caffeine nap) after a lunch is highly effective for improving perception, learning, reasoning and even physical performance.

The study involved ten healthy adults who were deprived of night sleep but napped for 30 minutes in the afternoon specifically between 1pm and 1:30pm

After their naps, each of these men were made to go through various performance tests, and they were found to have improved in scores on a short test, heart rate, short-term memory, and alertness. (source)


Disadvantages of a coffee nap

Before diving deeper, I have to point out the following important facts

  • Having a coffee nap does not have any negative consequence (except when it is not done in the right way), rather the negative effects has to do with the effects of the coffee which varies from one individual to another.
  • There are individuals who can’t be comfortable when they sleep except they sleep on their own bed.
  • Lastly, there are certain people who just can’t sleep during the day no matter how hard they try.

If you fall into any of the categories of people above, then, it is obvious that a coffee nap is not for you. Having said, here are the top three negative effects of a coffee nap when it is not properly done:

  • Irregular Night Sleep: If your nap is well over 20 minutes (probably up to 60 minutes), it is likely that you might not sleep well at night. Hence, your productivity during the next day will be adversely affected. You will also experience the same problem when you take your nap too late in the day. 
  • Sleep Inertia: By definition, sleep inertia is the feeling of partial consciousness and temporal confusion that results from being awaken from deep sleep. It is common for people whose naps lasts for more than 20 minutes to experience sleep inertia. However, bear in mind that this feeling of partial consciousness and temporal confusion does not exceed 30 minutes. If yours should exceed 30 minutes, it is an indication that you have not been sleeping well in the nights.
  • Coffee Addiction: This one happens rarely. When you stop taking coffee (which essentially contains caffeine), it is likely that you will start experiencing constant fatigue, headaches, vomiting, inability to concentrate, nausea, irritability, depression and drowsiness.

The half-life of caffeine is another major problem with a coffee nap, it is six hours. Assuming you take a coffee nap by 12 noon, by 9 pm 35 percent of the coffee will still remain in your system and can prevent you from having a quality night sleep.


How to take a coffee nap the right way

coffee-nap-method

Since most of us usually experience an energy slump by mid-afternoon, having a coffee nap within this period is highly recommended.

Drivers who always feel drowsy can also make use of this technique. Having said that, here is a 4-step checklist to taking a coffee nap in the right way:

Step 1: Find the most relaxing environment

Ideally, the environment should:

  • Be quiet enough such that you would not be disturbed.
  • Have dim lighting.
  • Contain a comfortable sofa.

Apart from the above, an eye mask and a foam ear plugs are other nap accessories that you should also have with you.

Step 2: Take your cup of coffee

Though there are other drinks such as coke and pepsi that contain caffeine, they are not as effective as a cup of coffee in providing you with the needed dosage of caffeine you require to take a nap.

So, go grab your cup of coffee now.

Step 3: Set your alarm

Set your alarm to go off after 20 minutes once you are about to finish your cup of coffee. This will prevent you from sleeping longer than you should.

Pro tip: make it slightly difficult for you to press the snooze button by placing it far away from you before you go to sleep.

Step 4: Lie down on the sofa and close your eyes

This is the easiest step. Kick off your shoes, lie down and enjoy a well-relaxed nap.


Pro tips: How to improve the quality of your coffee nap

An ideal coffee nap should be 20-25 minutes long. You must not stretch this duration. If you do, you will suffer from sleep inertia.

However, you can take some measures to improve the quality of your nap and get the best out of it. Here are a few proven tips to make the coffee nap effective for you:

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    Keep your eyes closed: If you are finding it difficult to sleep during your 20-minute period, make sure your eyes remain closed. Just closing your eyes during this period is enough to recharge your brain. With time, your body will adjust accordingly and respond to sleeping during this period provided you stick to the same time for your nap every day. 
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    Don't sleep longer: Even when you are tempted to sleep longer than the usual 20 minutes, resist the temptation. If you are feeling groggy after waking up, wash your face and expose yourself to bright light.
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    Tame your wandering mind: I suggest you try any of these exercises: 1) Buy and play music that has been created solely for inducing sleep. 2) Count down from 100. This allows you to keep your mind off the various thoughts going through your mind. 3) Determining a suitable period for your nap.
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    Remove distractions: Most especially, I suggest you turn off your mobile phone. But if your phone doubles as your alarm clock, you can turn on the airplane mode. This will prevent you from receiving any notification.
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    Adjust temperature: If the place is too cold, have a blanket handy. If it is too warm, place a fan in the room or find any other means to make the place cool.
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    Use napping apps: There are apps that have been proven to make you nap without any distractions. Download them and make use of them. If for one reason or the other you don't feel relaxed when you put on music, try white noise.
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    Mind your food: If you consume foods that contain a lot of fat or sugar few hours before your nap, you may find it difficult to nap. But if you must eat something, make sure it contains lots of protein and calcium, for example, a glass of milk.

Side note 1: What if you can't drink coffee

While Coffee is generally safe for consumption, some people experience side effects when they consume it. Examples of such side effects include increased heart rate, jitters, and an upset stomach.

For such people, I suggest suitable alternatives, preferably herbal sources of caffeine such as herbal tea, green tea or cha I tea.

However, bear in mind that for this alternative solutions to be effective, you need to consume at least 200 mg of caffeine.

Side note 2: Myths associated with naps

Before I conclude this article, let me highlight 3 common myths associated with power naps:

  • Only the sick, the elderly, and children nap.
  • Those who nap are not ambitious enough.
  • Napping is an indication of indolence.

Though, I believe you won’t fall for these myths, it is still important to point them out.


Working people's stigma: How to take a coffee nap in an office during work hours

power-nap

For most people in a working environment, there is no place that is assigned for napping. If you are among such people, here are your six best options:

1. On your way home

Do you carpool?

If yes, you can suggest to your carpool partner to allow you drive in the mornings so that you can power nap on your way home.

However, to allow your carpool partner the freedom to listen to the radio, talk on the phone or chew gum, bring your earplugs or headphones.

2. A parking lot

If your car is parked in a safe place, you can power nap in the parking lot.

The parking lot can be that of your company or the one along your way home.

When you are in the car, lock the door, switch on the music (or white noise) to feel relaxed and enjoy your 20 minutes of snooze.

3. A library nearby

There is little chance that you will be distracted in a library since it is expected that people should talk quietly at a library.

A side benefit of using the library for your power nap is that you don't have to bring along your coffee, most modern libraries now sell coffee.

4. Your company's conference room

While this can be comfortable, you must ensure that you reserve the room in time. Otherwise, you will experience a lot of disruptions.

5. Finally, your office

This is applicable to you provided you own a private office.

Place a "do not disturb" sign outside your door and shut it, switch off your computer and catch some sleep.

If you plan on napping in your office regularly, make sure you have a pillow and a blanket in your office.


Conclusion: Should you practice coffee napping

You just learned the benefits of coffee naps and how to coffee nap in the right manner. And that means you no longer have to deal with drowsiness during your work periods, especially in the afternoons.

However, a word of warning – just knowing how to coffee nap isn’t going to get you any results.

That’s because the key is that you need to take action on what you've just learned. And that’s why I encourage you to re-read the article, review the steps, and then start implementing them right away.