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What Is a Coffee Nap?

Matthew Berk Matthew Berk • April 01, 2021

Coffee and a... nap? Yes! 

If you haven't yet tried the coffee nap, it's a great way to maximize your caffeine kick and power through your morning (or afternoon or evening). The physiological mechanism for drowsiness is the accumulation of a chemical called adenosine in the brain. And one of the ways caffeine perks us up is by binding to the same receptors—literally preventing the detection of adenosine and the perception of being tired. In addition to the stimulating effects of caffeine, it prevents us from feeling sleepy.

How to Take a Coffee Nap 

To maximize the effect of caffeine on the brain, try drinking a cup of coffee and immediately taking a 10- to 15-minute "caffeine nap." (But don't nap any longer than 20 minutes, or your coffee nap won't be as effective.) The caffeine in coffee takes between 10 and 20 minutes to fully take effect, and while you're napping, your brain will naturally reduce any adenosine buildup. When you awake, the caffeine kick will start to take effect as it binds to your just-cleared receptors.

What If I Can't Fall Asleep After I Drink Coffee?

You don't have to (and shouldn't) fall into a deep sleep for a caffeine nap to work. Just close your eyes, rest, and let the coffee work its magic.

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