Coffee keeps you awake, indeed not: the discovery of the “coffee nap”

Scientists say that having a coffee before your afternoon nap is conducive to sleep and regenerates the mind.


Some people have problems with caffeine yet some have problems without it.

For many people it is the only way to free themselves from the arms of Morpheus.

After having a coffee in the late afternoon or in the evening, some people cannot get to sleep, whereas others who drink coffee after dinner sleep wonderfully. The same cup of coffee but opposite effects: those who dream blissfully and those who count sheep.

So how do you explain this?

Coffee simply has different effects from person to person, depending on genetics and the metabolism. One day, we will be able to determine the personal “biological” amount for each person so that we only benefit from the positive effects of coffee. Yet one thing already seems to be shared by everyone, at least according to British researchers at Loughborough University.

Coffee and sleepiness, the opposite effect

This news is interesting, especially for those who are used to drinking coffee after their afternoon nap: coffee should be drunk before the nap, so that you will wake up rested, recharged and focused.

The eternal ally at times of fatigue, coffee can facilitate and improve sleep. The paradoxical revelation from the British university has led to the expression the coffee nap.

In a survey on driving when sleep deprived, it was discovered that after drinking a coffee and falling asleep immediately, on waking up participants felt much more energetic than before. As for alertness and reflexes, the nap + coffee formula beat all the others.


Drinking coffee prevents sleep.
By contrast, sleep prevents drinking coffee.
(Philippe Geluck)


The body takes about 20 minutes to feel the effects of caffeine: those who take a nap immediately after having a coffee sleep wonderfully. And when they wake up, they will enjoy all the stimulating and invigorating effects of caffeine.

Sleep and coffee: the odd combination

How is this possible? It seems that everything can be traced to adenosine, a chemical compound that induces drowsiness. It accumulates in the brain when you are awake and dissipates while you sleep. This neurotransmitter makes us feel tired and sluggish after too short a sleep. Caffeine is an adenosine inhibitor: it fills the receptors in the brain that are normally occupied by the adenosine molecule. A nap lasting 15-20 minutes, which ends as soon as the effect of caffeine begins, releases you from the effects of adenosine, and afterwards you feel more reactive, invigorated and responsive than ever.

But that is not all. A Japanese study also showed that people who took memory tests after having a coffee nap performed much better than those who had only slept or had only had a coffee.


A coffee or a nap?

It is now a common belief that coffee prevents you from sleeping: those who suffer from insomnia should not drink it after 2pm and, in any case, should not exceed 3-4 cups a day.

But after lunch, a coffee or a nap? The answer is both.

The best solution is to combine a little nap with a cup of good coffee. Drinking a coffee before a nap makes your sleep pleasant and your rest more regenerating. The secret lies in trying to fall asleep before the caffeine takes effect…

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