The truth about coffee naps

Coffee has come a long way since it occupied a spot on the World Health Organization’s list of possible carcinogens, as it’s since become good for you in an “it helps prevent diseases” kind of way. Research shows coffee drinkers could have a reduced risk of heart disease (including heart attacks and strokes), diabetes, and uterine and liver cancer (via Harvard). 

“Caffeine is the first thing that comes to mind when you think about coffee,” says Diane Vizthum a research nutritionist at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (via Johns Hopkins). “But coffee also contains antioxidants and other active substances that may reduce internal inflammation and protect against disease.”

But on top of all this, what if we also told you one of the best times to drink coffee is before you take a nap?

The science behind a coffee nap

The reason why science recommends we have coffee before we nap has to do with the way caffeine affects our bodies. After the coffee we drink is digested, the caffeine makes its way into our brains in a process that takes about 20 minutes. There, caffeine molecules slide into receptors which are normally occupied by another molecule called adenosine. This way, caffeine cuts into adenosine levels, which is important because it is the adenosine build-up which makes us feel tired (via Vox).

When we take a 15- to 20-minute coffee nap, research shows we give the caffeine time to work its way through our system so that when sleep causes adenosine levels drop, the caffeine molecules take adenosine’s place, giving us the lovely jolt we need to continue the rest of our day feeling energized — and without the sluggishness we might feel if we’ve napped too much.

Don't kick start coffee naps with soda, though

Not all caffeinated drinks work in the same way, though. NBC says research suggests that we need between 200 to 250 mg of caffeine (Healthline says that’s equal to about two 8-oz cups of regular coffee) for a 30-minute coffee nap to work its magic. 

It also suggests we are better off using coffee instead of caffeinated sodas like Coke or Pepsi. Further, the news site warns that a coffee nap is best taken before 3 p.m. so that our power naps don’t lead to sleepless nights, which ultimately defeats its purpose of keeping us energized and at our productive peak.

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