Last summer I spent a few weeks in Italy. While the travel was thrilling and I loved my time exploring, the aggressive time change meant that the first week of my trip was spent pretty damn exhausted. The only way I made it through those first few days was by taking regular naps, and constantly sipping on coffee. Then one of the people I was travelling with suggested something interesting: they told me to combine my naps and coffee.
Say what now?
My Italian friend suggested that I try drinking a few shots of espresso right before I settled in for a power nap. When I woke up later, she said I would feel much more refreshed.
She was right.
Turns out, the practice is actually scientifically proven, as author Daniel Pink discussed with us in an episode of The Upgrade. Most of us go through a mid-day slump based on our chronotype, and this is but one of several ways to help fight through it.
While we conventionally think of caffeine as something that prevents us from sleeping, it can be great to have right before that 20-minute nap. In fact, researchers have proven that combining the two leaves you better off than just napping or just having a cup of coffee. It’s a dynamic combo.
So, how does caffeine help you nap?
The basic idea here is that the way caffeine works, it’s going to take roughly 20 minutes from when you drink it for it to actually give you that jolt you’re after.
Caffeine typically fits into receptors in your brain that are normally filled by adenosine molecules, which are a product of brain activity. You’re tired because those receptors are starting to fill up.
That caffeine you’re drinking has to fight with the adenosine receptors for spots in your brain. However, if you sleep for a bit, you’ll clear some of those receptors out, just in time for the caffeine to come in and grab that prime real estate, Vox reports.
The key here is just taking a short nap of 20 minutes. You don’t even need to fall asleep, a half-sleep stage will help do the trick as well. Genius, right?
If you struggle to get quality sleep in of an evening, this could be a serious life-saver for you. Give it a go and let us know in the comments if it worked for you.
This article has been updated since its original publish date.