Coffee Naps

I love a nap almost as much as I love an espresso.

Recently I discovered that the two can be combined to great effect.

If you drink a coffee just before taking a 20 minute nap, the wakeful effects of each will compound.

This seems counterintuitive, but makes a lot of sense when you look at how caffeine and sleep each affect the brain.

As our bodies generate energy, they are constantly producing a neurotransmitter called adenosine.

Your brain has a number of adenosine receptors which are triggered as adenosine binds to them. These adenosine receptors are your body’s way of knowing it needs to sleep.

The more adenosine receptors activated, the sleepier you become.

When you sleep, your body produces less adenosine than it breaks down, which is why you usually wake up more alert that you did when you went to bed.

But what if you’re tired and sleep isn’t an immediate option?

This is where coffee steps in.

Lucky for us, caffeine has a similar structure to adenosine.

(Caffeine and Adenosine side-by-side)

Caffeine’s structure is similar enough that it can bind to the adenosine receptors without activating them.

This essentially blocks adenosine from binding to your receptors and telling your brain that you need to sleep.

Caffeine takes about 20 minutes to absorb into your bloodstream. By spending that time napping, your body naturally breaks down some of the adenosine in your system, which frees up more adenosine receptors for the caffeine to bind to.

A short nap primes your body to maximise the wakeful effect of caffeine.

If you’re a coffee drinker and haven’t tried this before, give this a shot.

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