Coffee consumption is more than just slamming a triple espresso before the beginning of a double shift or making your sixth cup of Americano to pull an all-nighter before finals. Coffee drinking can be a time of relaxation; savoring a cup can center you and make you feel rejuvenated. Also, just the act of getting the coffee has become a social ritual in modern society, with 48% of regular coffee drinkers getting their coffee at a drive-through at a fast service restaurant, café, donut shop, or convenience store. But what happens when coffee alone doesn’t work as a pick-up, and you’re in desperate need of a nap? That’s where coffee naps come in!
While “coffee naps” sounds like a trend you’d see on Tiktok, there is actual scientific merit to the concept! Adenosine is a molecule that is produced by brain activity, so when enough adenosine accumulates in your brain, it slows us down mentally and makes us tired. Caffeine is an adenosine blocker. This means that caffeine attaches itself to the receptors that adenosine would typically link onto, temporarily preventing drowsiness. Basically, caffeine tricks your brain into thinking you’re more awake than you actually are! So, what about napping?
We cycle through four stages of sleep throughout the night. The first, second, and third stages are NON-REM (non-rapid eye movement). These stages can last for five to fifteen minutes each. The first stage is the winding down process, second stage is light sleeping, and then the third stage is the precursor to being in a really deep sleep. The fourth and final stage (REM sleep) is the deepest sleep you can be in and occurs 90 minutes after starting the first stage. This is the stage where you begin to dream. Ideally, when you take a nap, you should not exceed stage 2 of NON-REM sleep; surpassing 20 to 25 minutes of sleep can cause a person to feel even more drowsiness upon waking. This is due to sleep inertia, which is a physiological state associated with impaired cognitive and sensory-motor performance that occurs shortly after awakening. (In layman’s terms, that’s just when you wake up and feel like a zombie for 15 to 30 minutes!)
So, if you nap for 20 minutes, you'll lower your adenosine levels just in time for the caffeine to take effect. Caffeine will have less adenosine to compete with, making it even more effective at waking you up.
A study published in Volume 75 of the Biochemical Pharmacology journal in 2008 called “Sleep homeostasis: A role for adenosine in humans?” stated in its conclusion that “The adenosine receptor antagonist, caffeine, potently attenuates the physiological EEG markers of Non-REM sleep homeostasis during sleep, as well as during wakefulness.” “Sleep homeostasis” refers to the balance between being asleep and being awake.
In simpler terms, caffeine reduces the feelings of drowsiness and grogginess brought on by the lack of sleep. From this theory, scientists conducted blind tests to support the claim that coffee naps are successful when tested against a non-caffeinated control group. In one study, they found that individuals who had ingested 200mg of caffeine and took 15-minute naps directly after being placed in front of a driving simulator for two hours were 91% less drowsy compared to those in the control group who did not consume caffeine before their nap.
If you want to get a head start on trying out coffee naps for yourself, we offer the perfect blend to get you started. For the best results, try our Mexican Custepec coffee in your experiment! It’s a light roast coffee and extremely rich in texture with a nutty flavor profile. We would love to hear your opinion on coffee naps and if you tried it out for yourself.
Share your experience with us in the comments below or on our Instagram page @sheldrakecoffee!