Everyone tells you that you will become addicted to coffee once you get to college. Whether this is true for you or not, you probably still enjoy a good nap. If you are like me, and enjoy both, then you often face the question, do I take a nap or do I drink a cup of coffee? With the time crunch here at school I usually end up choosing coffee, but is it the better option?
While I was doing my research, I found that both have their own benefits and downfalls. In one article, the author discusses how naps don’t have a crash. They increase your cognitive abilities and give your brain a boost (IF you get the full 60-90 minutes). If you only take a 20 minute nap, this will reverse the effects and make you even groggier. Coffee on the other hand almost immediately wakes you up and increases your focus, but it does make you eventually crash. A study done at the University of California San Diego directly tested the effects coffee and napping on your memory. They created 3 different groups: a nap group, a drug group (caffeine pill), and a placebo group (fake coffee pill). They first spent time training them all on motor skills, verbal learning, and perceptual learning. They all had to do activities such as memorizing a specific sequence on a key board or memorizing a long list of words. The nap group then took a nap while the pill group waited by watching a nature video. After the nappers woke up, half of the pill group took a placebo pill and the other half a 200mg caffeine pill. Everyone was then tested again on the tasks they had memorized before. The results showed that the nappers did significantly better than the pill group on both the motor skills and perceptual learning, but there was no significant difference in the verbal learning session. These findings show how although coffee makes you feel physically awake, napping is a better option if you need to cognitively perform well. The study does discuss some third variables that could alter their results. They first talk about how different amounts of caffeine (not just 200mg) could increase the performance. Likewise, the different durations of a nap could also alter the performance as well.
I concluded from reading this study that if you are in a rush, coffee is a great alternative to increase focus and to wake your body up. BUT if you have the time, napping is always the better option, not only for your body, but also for your brain’s performance.
As I continued reading the first article I mentioned, the author states that there was such a thing as a coffee nap. Essentially, you drink a cup of coffee and then take a nap. When you wake up, you feel the effects of the coffee plus the effects of the nap, thus giving you double the benefits of just doing one. According to this Japanese study, a coffee nap is significantly better than just a single nap or single cup of coffee. Their objective was to see whether a coffee nap is better than taking a normal nap, or a normal nap combined with face washing or bright lights. They had ten healthy young adults either take a nap, take a coffee nap, take a nap followed with bright lights, take a nap followed by washing your face, or take no nap at all. Their data shows that the coffee nap was the most successful. Although, I realized they did not have a group that just drank coffee with no nap. Since they didn’t include this in their study, I cant conclude that a coffee nap is better than just drinking a cup of coffee or taking a nap by itself. Also, the group was not randomized enough. They were all 20-23 years of age and were healthy. There are many other variables that could come into play. Health, age, and caffeine tolerance are just a few. However, this is a very interesting and relatively new trend that I would love to hear more about. Personally, I have never tried doing this or ever heard of anyone doing this. Would you ever try taking a coffee nap? If you have so already, does it work?
Here is an interesting video that explains into further detail of how a coffee nap really works.