Better than Coffee or a Nap
If you need a quick boost in the afternoon, here’s a trick that works better than taking a nap or drinking coffee…
It’s called taking a caffeine nap. And while it may sound counterintuitive, research shows that when naps and caffeine are combined, it’s more effective than just doing one or the other.
For example, a study out of the Sleep Research Laboratory of Loughborough University in the United Kingdom recruited 12 sleepy people. The volunteers combined caffeine with a nap that was less than 15 minutes long. Non-nap comparisons were either given 200 mg of caffeine or a placebo.
Next, the researchers had the participants take a continuous, monotonous afternoon drive in a car simulator for about two hours.
For the placebo, EEG measurements showed levels of sleepiness that reflected a mid-afternoon peak. Caffeine significantly reduced the peak. But when the nap and caffeine were combined, the peak was completely eliminated and driving errors were greatly reduced.
If you’re wondering how you can go to sleep right after a jolt of caffeine, the answer is quite simple. It takes nearly 20 minutes for caffeine to hit your brain. This gives you just enough time for a short nap before it kicks in.
Reyner LA, Horne JA. Suppression of sleepiness in drivers: combination of caffeine with a short nap. Psychophysiology. 1997 Nov;34(6):721-5.