Conventional wisdom says that caffeine and sleep are unhappy bedfellows. For the most part, that holds up. But say you’re to start a big project in half an hour and you’re feeling groggy; what should you do? Quick coffee? A power nap?
Studies (most notably from Loughborough University) suggest that having a shot of espresso, for example, before quickly nodding off for no more than 20 minutes, is far better than either napping and coffee on their own. People who did so performed significantly higher on memory tests, and reported anecdotally that they were less tired.
The reason for this is that caffeine takes a while to reach the bloodstream, which is just enough time for you to have a nap but not fall into deep sleep. When the caffeine kicks in, it naturally brings you out of your nap at the right moment, and gives you a double dose of revitalisation.
Better yet, the receptors that would have been busy making you sleepy, are available to absorb the caffeine they love so much – making that pre-nap coffee more effective.By filling up more of these receptors with caffeine, you’re essentially “putting a block of wood under one of the brain’s primary brake pedals,” says Stephen R. Braun, author of Buzz: The Science and Lore of Alcohol and Caffeine.
- Grab an espresso or iced coffee, something easy to drink quickly.
- Find a quiet, comfortable place, where you’re unlikely to be disturbed.
- Neck your coffee.
- Try to relax into sleep as soon as you can. Not that we want to pressure you, but at this stage time is of the essence. Wait too long and you’ll sleep through the caffeine hit!
- Sleep for 15-20 minutes.
- Wake up and get stuff done.
Give it a go, it’s an amazing pick-me-up. Don’t believe this could possibly work? Express your healthy skepticism in the comments below.