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Why drinking coffee before a nap could make it better

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Slept terribly again? Then you might find yourself reaching for the coffee to tide you over. Or, clearing 15 minutes in your schedule for a power nap. But some people swear that drinking caffeine before they take a nap gives them an extra zap of energy when they wake up. Coffee and sleep don’t usually go hand in hand so can there be any truth in this theory?

Well according to sleep expert Professor Chin Moi Chow from the University of Sydney it’s not such a crazy idea. Writing in the Conversation, she mentioned a small study that showed combining caffeine with a nap improved it even further. ‘People who took a coffee nap were less likely to drift out of their lanes on a two hour monotonous simulated drive, compared to when they just drank a coffee (and had no nap) or when they had a decaffeinated coffee (and with a nap).’

How coffee naps could work

Professor Chow explains that when you drink a coffee, the caffeine stays in the stomach for a little while before it moves on to the small intestine. It’s here that the caffeine is actually absorbed and distributed throughout the body – and it could take around 45 minutes to get there.

So in theory, drinking a coffee just before a short nap of less than 15 minutes won’t affect your ability to snooze as your body hasn’t yet experienced the caffeine hit.

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But once you wake up, you should not only experience the hit and feel more rested, but also feel the effects of the coffee for a while later. Caffeine remains in the blood for a few hours after drinking a cup of coffee

‘It is this caffeine hit after you wake up and the “long tail” of caffeine in your body that helps you power through the day,’ says Professor Chow.

But timing is everything

However, mistime your nap, and it could ruin everything. If you wait too long after drinking your coffee before hitting the hay, you could mess up your sleep and your performance. Professor Chow also reveals that while (if you get it right) coffee naps will power you for a couple of hours, they’re not a substitute for a lousy night’s sleep. The better solution (as you might have guessed) is to get into a decent sleep routine.

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