Coffee? Nap? Or a coffee nap?

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?

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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.


2 thoughts on “Coffee? Nap? Or a coffee nap?

  1. Marielle Concetta Ravally

    Being an avid nap-taker and coffee-drinker, I’m surprised that I’ve never heard of “coffee naps” before reading your post. I see the logic behind the theory. A cup of coffee usually takes some time to actual kick in, its not an automatic stimulant, so in that time you could fall asleep. When the coffee does eventually kick in, you will be asleep therefore causing you to feel the effects of both the nap and the coffee upon awaking.

    However I am interested to see the long term effects. Usually one will experience a post-caffeine crash. Does the nap negate that crash though? If so this seems like a miracle practice to be honest!

    My second problem is the disrupting of the REM sleep cycle. I wonder if the addition of caffeine actually has an effect on the nap’s sleeping pattern. This study shows that caffeine consumed even 6 hours before going to sleep has substantial effects on the sleep cycle.
    One might wake up feeling refreshed, but how long with that new energy actually last?

    Your post got me thinking, and I honestly see myself testing this “coffee nap” method in the future!

  2. Wencong Wang

    Thank you for share this. I know take a nap can makes people more focus on work and more effective. And I know coffee can do the same thing but later will makes you exhausted. I baberly drink coffee in my life, because I think drink coffee in order to improve my efficiency of work is to burn my body. There are lots of bad effecet that coffee do on your body. this video explained this. I can not image how people drink coffee and take a nap. We all know coffee’s effect is help people to refresh and invigorate the brain, after I drink coffee I will feel full of energe and cannot sleep. I do not know why people drink coffee and still go sleep. Lots of people drink coffee in order to work is they do not have time to take a nap, if they do have time to take a nap, why should they still drink coffee? Nap can improve your work ability significantly, why we still need coffee? Thank you for share this.

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