What is a Coffee Nap and How Well Does It Work?

coffee nap

Do you need an energy boost in the middle of the day? Some would suggest drinking coffee. Others would nudge you to take a nap. Recently, there’s a trend that’s risen to replace either option. Its strong point: it’s a more effective productivity elixir. It’s actually nothing new. Just a combination of the two things you may already love. 

Introducing the coffee nap, a powerful way to beat sleepiness in the slow hours. Wait, you may think, doesn’t caffeine prevent you from dozing off? Why is it paired with naptime?  Indeed, that seems ironic. But wait until you understand the science behind it. 

This article will run you through the basics and benefits of a coffee nap. We’ll touch on its two components, caffeine and naps. And then we’ll look into its advantages and benefits. From the outset, let us tell you that this may not be ideal for everyone. So let’s see if it’s right for you.

What Is A Coffee Nap?

What Is Caffeine?

Caffeine is a chemical found in coffee. You may also consume it through non-coffee sources, such as tea, caffeinated soda, and chocolate bars. A mug of filtered coffee may contain 85 milligrams of caffeine on average. If you prefer an espresso shot, you can already get as much as 60 milligrams. 

This chemical has been known to fight off drowsiness in the drinker. How does it work? When ingested, it is absorbed by your small intestine and travels through your bloodstream to the brain. It then plugs into adenosine receptors up there. 

Adenosine is a chemical found in the brain that promotes sleep when plugged into those receptors. In other words, it makes you feel tired, which then signals to your body that it needs rest. Interestingly, the shape of this molecule is similar to that of caffeine. And so, when caffeine reaches your brain, it can block the molecules from plugging into their receptors. 

And that’s how caffeine can help you stay awake.

Are Naps Good?

Meanwhile, power naps have become popular, especially among older adults. These individuals need it to stay productive during all-nighters or on sleep-deprived days. These quick naps should take around 15 to 20 minutes. While the common notion is that a longer nap may make you feel groggy, some researchers are debunking it.

When you go beyond 20 minutes, you fall into the slow-wave stages of sleep. This will aid in enhancing your memory and creativity, according to some experts. Your decision-making and problem-solving skills can become better if you reach the REM (Rapid Eye Movement) phase. At this point, your brain is more capable of making new connections.

However, a long nap may not be ideal for those who work in physical offices.

If you can build a habit out of it, it’s said to lower your risk of heart disease and the impact of stress on your wellbeing. The challenge is to stay consistent. As in, take a nap at the same time each workday. But yes, naps are good. Some even prefer it over downing a cup of joe. 

Read: How to Sleep Well in the Age of Stress

Coffee Naps

A coffee nap is a quick nap taken right after drinking coffee. Scientists are still building a case for this practice, but they’re onto something. When you’ve just had your coffee, do you notice that the caffeine does not instantly kick in? What do you with the time you’re left to wait? Take a power nap!

Take advantage of that window by getting a quick shut-eye. The 20 minutes you spend drifting off may help your body get rid of adenosine. So, by the time the caffeine reaches the brain, it will have to fight with fewer adenosine molecules for receptor spots. In turn, this will raise your energy levels, and you’ll feel recharged after napping.

It is after those 20 minutes that you may feel most awake. But for some people, the effects of caffeine can last up to bedtime. So make sure you aren’t consuming caffeine near your sleep schedule.

coffee nap

Case Studies

Different studies were done in the Longborough University, United Kingdom, found that coffee naps were more effective in reducing errors committed by participants. Tired people who took a 15-minute nap after having coffee made fewer mistakes while driving (simulation). This was compared to when they were given coffee, took naps only, or drank decaf coffee (placebo).

The results reported were similar even with those who achieved a half-asleep state. One study showed a mid-afternoon peak of sleepiness, which can back up the habit of doing coffee naps between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. While the studies were made to find a way for sleepy drivers to reset, the recommendations can be used by workers as well.

Halfway across the world, in Japan, research was also conducted to test the effects of caffeine and short naps. Those who practiced the coffee nap performed significantly better in a battery of memory tests than those who just took a nap or took a nap and washed their faces.

There’s also some evidence of coffee naps helping sleep-deprived individuals last longer throughout the day. In a study of 24 young men who hadn’t slept properly for the last 24 hours, half were asked to take caffeine before napping. The other half were given only a placebo. Guess who did better in the cognition tests they were made to take? The former, of course.

How to Take A Coffee Nap

Is there a correct way to take a coffee nap? Well, there aren’t set rules. But there are some factors you need to consider… and act on. Here they are:

Drink Coffee Fast

Timing is key. During that mid-afternoon peak, make yourself a cup of hot coffee. You should drink it as quickly as you can. You can take an espresso shot or opt for iced coffee, so you can down it faster. Tea or another caffeinated beverage could work, but these alternatives contain less caffeine. Avoid energy drinks altogether as these sugary.

Immediately Go to Sleep

Try to fall asleep right after drinking coffee. Remember that you only have a 20-minute window. Don’t check out social media or chat with your officemate. If you have sleeping quarters at work, head over there from the pantry. Don’t force yourself to sleep if it’s not happening, though. You can still benefit from being half-asleep for 20 minutes than having no sleep at all.

Wake Up After 20 Minutes

Set your alarm to 20 minutes. When it sets off, make sure to get up immediately. Don’t hit the snooze button. While it isn’t a reason to rush through the process, the 20-minute window should be your guide. 

Advantages and Benefits Of A Coffee Nap

Productivity Boost

A coffee nap should result in keeping you more awake and alert. These qualities are what you need to see tasks through, especially if you need to do deep thinking or manual labor at work. Power naps have already been lauded as a productivity booster. Some experts are convinced that coffee naps are more effective, so there’s no harm in trying.

Mental Reset

Mind over matter. Building this habit will also depend on your mindset. Treat it as a mini-vacation or a chance to do a quick reset. Taking coffee naps can relax and re-energize you, so it can help you face a task with a fresh mind and eyes. If you’re stuck with a thought while writing or a line in your code, take advantage of this mental reset.

Beat Drowsy Driving

Drowsy driving is discouraged as this is a common cause of crashes. As a rule, drivers should have a full-night sleep to navigate the road effectively. If you feel sleepy, don’t keep driving. Pullover to a rest area and take a coffee nap. 


Combining caffeine and naps turns out to be a more effective way to combat drowsiness or lack of energy in the middle of the day. It’s said to be more powerful than drinking coffee or taking a nap alone. This is because of the time it takes for caffeine to kick in, which can be used for napping. The caffeine should start taking effect after you wake up from a 20-minute nap.

If you need an energy or productivity boost, try this instead. Timing is key. Let the 20-minute window guide you. Once you feel sleepy, drink hot or cold coffee fast (around 10 minutes) and then doze off for 20 minutes. Make sure to do it around the same time daily for consistency.

Building this habit takes discipline. So just keep at it even if you cannot fall asleep fast every day. Coffee naps should still provide you with benefits even at a half-tranquil state.

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