Pour a cuppa, sit back and relax - 'coffee naps' are a thing

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I'm a big believer in naps. HUGE. Or maybe I'm not a believer, per se. Rather, I'm someone who can't help but succumb to the sweet, sweet call of a soft couch.

I wasn't always like this. In fact, I used to hate napping.

Not the napping part (that bit's undeniably awesome). What I couldn't stand was the 'waking up' component. I hated finding myself deep in nap-land, only to have to wrench myself out of it, all sleepy and disoriented.

But that all changed when l discovered the Coffee Nap.

I was lured in by its simplicity. Step one: Drink coffee. Step two: Nap.

Loved ones aside, there's hardly anything I cherish more than coffee - apart from sleep. And now I'd stumbled across a combo that allowed me to marry my two loves?

'Twas heaven.

Coffee Naps are now making headlines thanks to an article penned by Chin Moi Chow for The Conversation. And they're an ideal solution for many sleep-deprived parents.

As Chow explains, when you don't get enough sleep you incur what researchers call a "sleep debt".


Taking a nap is a common way of "repaying" that sleep debt. But simply repaying that debt can leave you feeling crap-tastic upon waking.

That's where caffeine comes in.

Chow cites a study from 1997 that analysed the effects on participants of drinking the equivalent of a large cup of brewed coffee, followed five minutes later by a 15-minute nap.

Those who drank coffee but didn't nap performed better than if they wouldn't have had coffee. But those who caffeinated up and then snoozed did even better than the previous group.

This was true even for those who "dozed" during their naptime, as opposed to falling into a deep sleep. That's really important: Napping doesn't have to mean going all the way to sleep. It can sometimes mean simply drifting off – and, as a busy mama bear, you'll definitely appreciate the benefits of that relaxing time.

The best part was that, after the nap, people who drank coffee beforehand were less sleepy upon waking. That's because, Chow notes, it takes about 45 minutes for coffee to be absorbed.

Mind you, you'll start to feel more alert about 30 minutes after drinking your caffeine. I can vouch for it.

Whenever I've had a cup of coffee followed by a short nap, I've woken up in time for the stimulating effects of coffee to overcome that horrible grogginess.

However, Chow notes that coffee naps are "not the best way to pay back your sleep debt."

"Getting enough sleep on most days is a better solution for alertness, performance and productivity."

Yes, yes, we hear you.

But while we're in the heavy sleep-debt stage of life, it's hard to aim for optimal sleep levels, taken at the right time (night), all in one stretch. Instead, us sleep-deprived parents sometimes have to take what we can get.

Sure, Coffee Naps are a luxury we can't always indulge in. (Those pesky things like work, and parenting, often get in the way).

And yes, it's important to get the timing right. (If done too late in the day, a yea-old Coffee Nap can make you too wired to sleep that night.)

But when the timing's right, and the conditions are optimal, I like nothing more than moseying on down to the kitchen, enjoying me-self a cup of steaming coffee before curling up on the couch for a good ol' Coffee Nap.

So next time my hubby asks if he can grab me a hot drink while he's making himself one, I'll say yes.

But instead of asking for sugar or milk or any other fancy requests, I'll whisper the way I really want my brew: with a nap on the side.