Coffee Naps: How to Level Up Your Nap Game
Posted by Junior Lim on Feb. 6, 2019, 1:14 p.m.
Enter the Coffee Nap
We’ve all been there: once lunchtime is up, it’s time for that dreaded walk back to the office. As you move from hot and humid, to cool, cool air conditioning, you start to feel something. Then, the moment you take your seat, it hits you, and it hits you HARD. There it is, hello food coma my old friend.
Beyond Just a “Food Coma”
It’s all too familiar, really. Between 2 to 3 PM, my body decides it’s the best time to quit on me. It’s been this way since my first year in university – some things never change.
The thing is, I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who has had to deal with this urge to drop all work for a quick snooze. I know this, because as a frustrated university student who has had enough of this nonsense a few semesters ago, I decided to run a quick Google search for some good ol’ life hacks, and wouldn’t you know, I came across what is known as a coffee nap. Oh, and one more thing – your body apparently comes built-in with the need to nap. Well, I guess it’s time to unpack the coffee nap then!
Coffee Nap 101
Put really simply, it involves drinking a serving of coffee, then taking a quick, 20 minute nap. Nothing more, and preferably nothing less.
Why 20 minutes? Articles suggest a nap time between 10 to 20 minutes, as anything past 20 minutes sends you into a state of sleep inertia, essentially driving you into a state of deeper sleep, and if you were to awaken, a state of unpleasant grogginess. I’d say go with 20 minutes – if you’re going to take a nap, take an actual nap. Let’s be real, 10 minutes isn’t nearly enough.
The Mechanics Behind The Nap
I’m gonna make this part equivalent to a “Coffee Nap for Dummies” sort of thing – trust me, it doesn’t have to be complicated (or I could make this technical and it would become your gateway for any nap. Just kidding).
Your brain has receptors, or spaces, that can be filled by chemicals. One of these chemicals is a substance known as adenosine, something your brain accumulates when it’s hard at work. This substance is what makes you tired, and it doesn’t help that the typical adult has an increased sleep drive around 1 to 3 PM, like we’ve talked about.
Here’s what coffee does: the caffeine in coffee competes with adenosine in your brain, fighting for a coveted bond with the adenosine receptors. While there’ll always be more adenosine than caffeine in your brain, you can see what I’m getting at – there’ll be less adenosine bonded to your adenosine receptors as long as there’s caffeine, which means you’ll be a lot less sleepy. The only caveat is that caffeine takes time to work its wonders, about 20 minutes. Which leads us to the next part of the equation: the nap.
Naps are simpler to understand: whenever you sleep, you get rid of adenosine.
Putting two and two together, we get this: (1) Drinking coffee introduces caffeine into your system, decreasing the potency of adenosine. (2) Taking a nap gets rid of adenosine. (3) PROFIT: Your coffee nap has restored your strength.
Ain’t No Need for A Siesta
While it’d be nice to have a siesta, why not opt for a more efficient alternative? I’ve tried coffee naps myself – albeit not in a controlled, experimental setting, just me chugging an Ice Kopi then proceeding to sink into my chair, with the occasional yet embarrassing sleep spasm. That being said, I’m not implying causation, but I do feel pretty good after a coffee nap. So, dear reader, I urge you, give the coffee nap a go! Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got plenty of coffee in this office and a nap to take – for science.