You’re trying to get through the day, but you can’t seem to keep your eyes open.
Drinking a cup of coffee or tea might help. Or a short nap may also restore your energy.
Which would you choose?
It might be most helpful to try both options together. Although your first thought might be that they’ll work against each other—the caffeine will prevent you from taking your nap—if you time them right, they can enhance each other.
Why It Works
There’s a chemical—a purine nucleoside—that is naturally found in your body called adenosine. Adenosine is produced as a by-product of cellular activity and builds up in your brain cells as the day progresses.
As more and more adenosine binds to receptors in your brain, it makes you feel increasingly tired. And when you sleep, your body metabolizes the adenosine, so you wake up feeling refreshed.
Caffeine molecules have a very similar structure to adenosine, although they affect us quite differently. Caffeine molecules are close enough to adenosine molecules to fit into those same adenosine receptor sites. This prevents actual adenosine molecules from binding there and temporarily blocks the drowsy feelings that adenosine would normally produce.
So when you drink caffeine and then nap, the nap will reduce the levels of adenosine in your brain while the caffeine prevents the remaining adenosine from binding to its receptors and making you feel drowsy.
How To Do It
To get the most benefit from a caffeine nap, drink a cup of caffeinated coffee or tea and immediately lie down and close your eyes. Set the alarm for less than 30 minutes.
If you nap for more than 30 minutes, you will likely enter deeper phases of sleep that will be harder to wake up from. It’s better to keep your napping time shorter, even if you spend most of the time not fully asleep.
Caffeine takes about 20-30 minutes to kick in, so you should start feeling more alert just in time as you wake up from your nap.
Other Tips To Increase Your Wakefulness
In addition to taking caffeine naps, there are other things you can do to help you feel more energetic during the day:
- Get up and move around every hour or so.
- Expose your eyes (safely) to bright lights or sunlight.
- Wash your hands and face with cold water.
- Drink more water.
- Eat healthy foods and snacks.
- Get some fresh air.
- Do some deep breathing exercises.
Caffeine and naps are not healthy substitutes for a good night’s rest. They can be helpful tools to get you through the day every now and then, but they should not be used as a long-term solution. Be sure to get enough sleep every night to be at your best during the day.