Caffeine nap (aka coffee nap) : The ultimate power up

Life is full of oxymorons. Military intelligence, corporate ethics and diet ice cream are some of my favourites. Another great contradictory term is the caffeine nap, or coffee nap which sounds like a joke, but is actually backed up by hard scientific evidence.

So what has caffeine got to do with napping? Surely the last thing you want to do when you’re tired is down a double espresso?

The science of coffee napping

The phenomenon was discovered by British scientists at Loughborough University, looking into ways to combat driver sleepiness. After  measuring the participants’ brainwaves whilst in a driving simulator, they found that the caffeine/nap combo worked better than either caffeine or napping on it’s own, cold air, or a break with no nap. The coffee nap was most effective at improving driving performance, virtually eliminating the mid-afternoon drowsiness peak that the other groups exhibited.

Why is it so effective?

The reason it works so well is because it takes around 20 minutes for the body to respond to the effects of caffeine. By taking a short nap immediately after consumption, the stimulant effect kicks in just as you are waking up. Not only will you feel revived from your power nap, you’ll also have the added benefit of the caffeine boost.

How to take a caffeine nap

You can use this technique any time, but it’s most effective in the afternoon to combat the the mid afternoon energy slump. It’s a great productivity tip for work and works wonders for drowsy drivers. If you don’t like coffee you can use a caffeine supplement – the kind of pill that students use to cram all night before their finals.

1) Find a suitable environment to take a nap.

If you’re at work, try to find the most relaxing environment, somewhere quiet that you’re not going to be disturbed, ideally with dim lighting, and not too noisy. A comfy sofa or armchair will do. Useful nap-cessories are  foam ear plugs, an eye mask or maybe you could even splash out on an Ostrich pillow

2) Grab a cup of coffee

Coffee is ideal, as are caffeine supplements like Pro-Plus etc. Coke and Pepsi are no good, they don’t contain enough caffeine. The scientists used a dosage of 200mg but you can experiment on what works best for you. Also watch out for sugar drinks, you might get a glucose-rush that prevents you from napping altogether.  Use this caffeine chart to pick your poison.

The Caffeine Poster, How Much Caffeine Are You Drinking?

3) Set your alarm to go off in 15-20 mins.

This is very important because you need to wake before you enter deep sleep. If you nap for too long you could end up drifting off into a slow-wave sleep pattern and run the risk of felling groggy when you wake up. Also you want to wake up before the caffeine hit kicks in. Watch this video on the science of napping for more tips.

4) Don’t delay, take your nap straight away.

Now the easy part. Kick off your shoes, get your head down and enjoy a nice relaxing snooze!

If you like this tip, send some feedback in the comments below, we’d love to hear your caffeine nap success stories!


Suppression of sleepiness in drivers: combination of caffeine with a short nap. Reyner LA, Horne JA. Sleep Research Laboratory, Loughborough University, Leicestershire, UK. Psychophysiology. 1997 Nov;34

13 thoughts on “Caffeine nap (aka coffee nap) : The ultimate power up”

  1. My room mate introduced this concept to me. I just performed it today and started doing some research on it afterwards. I know… a little backwards haha. Anyway, it so happened that I followed the steps on this site exactly. I feel more energized than I usually do with a nap alone or with coffee alone. Really works. I did notice my body shivering while I was taking a nap…even now. I don’t usually drink coffee, so I think that may be a reaction to the caffeine.

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  5. I’ve had dreadful insomnia most of my life, and as such been on numerous sleeping pills throughout the years that left my mornings a groggy haze of snooze buttons and exhaustion. About five years ago I started keeping caffeine pills and water right beside my alarm clock. So I began setting my alarm 20-30 minutes before I need to be up and when it goes off I pop them back then hit the snooze. Nice to know there are studies to back it up! It was just my lazy way of coping!! Lol

  6. I decided to take a caffiene nap as the article offered, but ended up sleeping for 1:45h. Is there any consensus or research showing whether this was as helpfull as the 20 minute version suggested?

  7. The idea is that after 20 minutes, you’ll get the combined effect of the delayed caffeine boost, plus the restorative effects of the nap. If you slept through your caffeine hit, then you won’t have felt the full combo effect.

  8. How quickly do you need to consume the vehicle before the nap commences? Downing a 12-16 oz cup of coffee or an entire Monster in one go is pretty daunting.

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  10. Seriously it works, take my usual double espresso with light milk, then I went to my desk, also added some music like; Patrick’O Hearn- ‘Betrayed’ from the soundtrack: Simpatico … I put my head on the table and slept the four minutes and here I am now writing, well, back to work.

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