What Really Happens When You Drink Coffee Before Your Nap

Coffee is welcome in many situations. It's ideal for long meetings at the office, for a catch up with friends, or at the 10.5 second mark after your morning alarm goes off. That warm bittersweet liquid is almost always appreciated, although it might not be the first thing you think of when settling in on the couch for a well-deserved afternoon snooze.

It may sound counterintuitive, but drinking coffee before taking a nap may actually work in your favor. According to VOX, if you caffeinate immediately before taking a quick nap (20 minutes or less), then the caffeine plus the sleep will work together and leave you feeling more energized. So if you want to make your power nap more powerful, then consider making it a coffee nap. 

In order to understand why the coffee nap is so effective in raising your energy levels, it's important to know how caffeine and sleep work surprisingly well together when it comes to sending signals to our brain.

Both caffeine and sleep work against adenosine

According to Healthline, when we are feeling tired, the chemical adenosine starts to increase to high levels and circulate through our bodies and brain to promote sleepiness. The levels start to drop as soon as you are asleep. The caffeine you drank just prior to napping then jumps in and acts as an adenosine receptor blocker. Since sleeping will naturally lower adenosine levels, then caffeine has less of this chemical to compete with for the receptors in your brain. This results in a more effective, energy-increasing nap, and a less drowsy feeling after waking up.

Not only does a coffee before napping lead to a more effective sleep, but you may also see the positive effects linger as you go about your day. Vox cites a study that found participants who took a coffee nap performed remarkably better in memory tests then other participants who had napped sans caffeine. The coffee snoozers also rated themselves to be less tired post-snooze.

Before taking a coffee nap, it is important to factor in the time of your nap. Eat This, Not That! warns us that caffeine stays in the system for up to six hours after consumption. So make sure your caffeinated nap happens at least six hours before you plan on retiring for the night so the caffeine doesn't disturb your night's slumber.