Caffeine nap: what is it & does it work?

Feeling sleepy? Try a caffeine nap for an extra boost of energy

A cup of coffee wrapped up in a blanket, sleep & wellness tips
(Image credit: Olga Mironova / Pexels)

If you’re feeling tired and in need of an energy boost, chances are you’re headed over to the kettle to make yourself a cup of tea or coffee. A hit of caffeine is a go-to way to wake up in the morning and to power through the dreaded 3pm energy slump. Another favourite is to have a quick power nap but what if you combined the two?

That’s right, many experts are recommending caffeine naps as a way to boost your energy levels and leave you feeling refreshed and ready to conquer the rest of the day. This might sound counterproductive but many people swear by it and scientific research seems to back up caffeine naps as well.

But what is a caffeine nap and does it actually work? Here’s everything you need to know about caffeine naps, including how and when to do it, and how it affects your body.

P.S. If you find it hard to concentrate or stay awake in the afternoon, check out these 7 tips to beat the afternoon energy slump and if you’re looking to reduce your caffeine intake, here are 5 steps to curbing your caffeine addiction.

What is a caffeine nap?

A caffeine nap (often referred to as a coffee nap) is exactly what it sounds like, where you drink coffee or tea before taking a short nap. While the idea of a caffeine nap might sound counterintuitive, it actually makes a lot of sense, as it typically takes around 20-30 minutes for people to feel the effects of caffeine. So, by having a cup of coffee before settling down for a power nap, you should feel more energised and alert when you wake up.

According to Healthline, the main reason scientists believe caffeine naps are effective is because of adenosine, a chemical that promotes sleep. Adenosine circulates around the body in high amounts when you feel tired and drops when you’re asleep. Caffeine and adenosine compete with each other for receptors in the brain and when you’re asleep, caffeine prevents adenosine from being received by your brain. In simple terms, having a nap after drinking coffee increases your brain’s capacity to receive caffeine rather than adenosine, so you wake up feeling more alert and less drowsy.

Woman having a nap at her desk, sleep & wellness tips

(Image credit: Mikhail Nilov / Pexels)

How to have a caffeine nap

So, how do you take a caffeine nap? It’s pretty simple and can easily fit into your schedule. All you need to do is make yourself a cup of tea or coffee, drink it fairly quickly and settle down for a 15-20 minute nap (see how long should you nap for more details).

Experts say that you should drink around 200 milligrams of caffeine to feel the effects of the caffeine nap and you shouldn’t sleep longer than 20 minutes to prevent grogginess. Sleep might not come easily to you but having this rest period can still leave you feeling refreshed. If you want to make caffeine naps a regular thing, take a look at how to have the perfect nap for tips to drift off easier.

Now you know how to have a caffeine nap, it’s important to make sure you’re having one at the right time. As we discovered in our what time should you stop drinking coffee guide, you should have your last cup of coffee between 2-3pm to avoid disrupting your sleep. Similarly, experts suggest that the best time to have a caffeine nap is around midday, typically before 3pm or at least 6 hours before your bedtime. 

Are caffeine naps good for you?

While further research needs to be done to fully understand caffeine naps, it has been found that having coffee with a nap is better than having caffeine or a nap on their own. Together, they enhance your concentration, energy levels, memory, and cognitive and physical performance.

Essentially, you get both benefits of caffeine and naps in one go, meaning you should feel less sleep deprived and more alert for the rest of the day. Coffee and naps are also said to have many health benefits, including improving gut, liver, heart and brain health. Of course, you should be careful with how much caffeine you’re consuming but it’s worth giving a caffeine nap a try if you’re struggling to stay awake in the afternoon.

For more nap tricks, why not try to sleep like a Navy SEAL with this 8 minute nap hack.

Bethan Girdler-Maslen
Home Editor

Beth is Home Editor for T3, looking after style, living and wellness. From the comfiest mattresses to what strange things you can cook in an air fryer, Beth covers sleep, yoga, smart home, coffee machines, grooming tools, fragrances, gardening and much more. If it's something that goes in your house, chances are Beth knows about it and has the latest reviews and recommendations! She's also in the know about the latest deals and discount codes from top brands and retailers.

Having always been passionate about writing, she’s written for websites, newspapers and magazines on a variety of topics, from jewellery and culture, to food and telecoms. You can find her work across numerous sites, including Wedding Ideas Magazine, Health & Wellbeing, The Bristol Post, Fashion & Style Directory, TechRadar, CreativeBloq and more. In her spare time, Beth enjoys running, reading, baking and attempting craft projects that will probably end in disaster!