This is why doctors drink coffee before taking a power nap

A woman takes a coffee nap in her bed
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Love coffee and napping? Then you'll love a coffee nap. Caffeine and quality sleep don’t often go hand in hand, but doctors, athletes and overtired students have long lauded the benefits of drinking coffee before taking a daytime nap. 

According to Dr. Myro Figura, MD, an anesthesiologist at UCLA health, drinking coffee (or another caffeinated drink) immediately before taking a power nap helps you to wake up feeling refreshed and energized. 

“Drink coffee and then take a nap,” advises Dr. Figura in a TikTok that has now been watched over 68,000 times. “I’m a doctor and I do a 24 hour shift pretty much once every week. This is the hack that I use to get me through it. When you drink that coffee, it takes around 20 minutes for it to kick in. That’s your time, go take a nap.”

But what is a coffee nap — and do they really make you feel more energized than a regular nap? Let’s take a closer look now, while for other better sleep better, see our guide to this year's best mattress for every sleeper.

What is a coffee nap?

Studies indicate that combining coffee with a nap, sometimes referred to as a ‘nappuccino’,  will leave you feeling more refreshed than napping without consuming coffee first. 

One particular study that explored the relationship between naps, caffeine and nightshift workers found that drinking coffee before a nap left participants feeling more alert than the placebo group who didn’t consume caffeine prior to napping. 

According to Dr. Figura, it doesn’t even matter if you don’t manage to nod off during your nap, you’ll still reap the energizing benefits of combining caffeine with rest. “Even if you don’t fall asleep, studies show that you’ll be even more refreshed than [drinking] a coffee or [taking] a nap alone,” he maintains.

Why are coffee naps so energizing?

The scientific reason behind the coffee nap’s energizing benefits is the relationship between adenosine (a chemical within the body that makes us feel sleepy) and caffeine. When adenosine builds up in the body, we feel tired. 

However, when we sleep, adenosine levels drop. It’s this natural drop in adenosine combined with the energy-boosting effects of caffeine leaves you feeling so refreshed after a coffee nap.

A mug of coffee on a wooden table

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

“Caffeine is an adenosine receptor blocker,” explains Dr. Figura. “So even if adenosine is present, it can’t make you feel tired, because caffeine blocks the receptor. Sleep, with time, actually reduces the amount of adenosine. Doing both together seems to have an additive effect.”

How to take the perfect 'nappuccino'

Sleep expert, chartered psychologist and neuroscientist Dr Lindsay Browning recently made an appearance on daytime chat show Steph's Packed Lunch to reveal exactly how to take the perfect nappuccino. 

"Down a coffee and then take yourself for a 20 minute nap," advises Dr Browning. "Now, the caffeine hasn't hit your system yet, so you'll be able to fall asleep. But by the time you wake up from the nap, it'll be in your system so you'll have been refreshed from having that little top up."

Ensure you hit the hay immediately after drinking your coffee and before its energy-boosting effects have taken hold. A quick 20 minute nap is enough time to reap the benefits of a coffee nap, leaving you feeling refreshed and energized. 

Nicola Appleton
Sleep Features Editor

Nicola Appleton is Sleep Features Editor at Tom’s Guide, specialising in quality news content surrounding sleep and wellbeing. Nicola cut her teeth as a journalist in a busy newsroom in Bristol, UK, 15 years ago as part of a team at Britain's largest independent press agency. Since then, her job as a journalist has taken her to the States, to Sydney, and then back to Blighty, where she has written and edited features for a whole host of prominent British and international brands, including  The Independent, The Sydney Morning Herald, HuffPost, Refinery29, Stylist and more. As well as tackling the vast topic of sleep, Nicola will be joining the raft of expert mattress reviewers at Tom's Guide, helping steer readers towards the very best mattresses on the market.