If You’re Tired, Try the “Nappuccino”

Photo: Getty Images/Grady Reese
Lately, my sleep schedule has been out of control. Staying up past midnight playing Words with Friends (yes, that's still a thing) on my phone is not how I should be spending my time, yet here I am, tired once again. One thing you wouldn't normally find me doing, though, is taking a nap to make up for my bad decisions. Every time I do, I wake up confused, groggy, and in a full-on panic thinking I passed out all the way until the next morning. But then I found out about the coffee nap, or "nappuccino," as NPR calls it.

Drinking coffee right before a nap sounds like a terrible idea. Doesn't that defeat the purpose and make it hard to fall asleep? Not at all. In fact, the caffeine doesn't kick in for about 20 minutes, the perfect amount of time for a power nap. A coffee nap is a great way to get some rest without ruining your day. "It doesn't help you catch up on lost sleep, but for people who struggle to awaken after a nap, it can be marginally helpful," says neurologist William Christopher Winter, MD, owner of the Charlottesville Neurology and Sleep Medicine.

To take a proper nappuccino, sleep expert Michael Breus, PhD, recommends drinking a 6- to 8-ounce cup of coffee quickly (or 90 to 100 mg of caffeine), adding ice cubes to cool it down if you need to. Then, find a quiet place to lie down for your 20-minute snooze, making sure you don't oversleep. "It's not an everyday napping strategy. I recommend using this nap no more than two times a week," he says. "If you find yourself seriously tired during the day on a routine basis, it’s time to take a close look at your sleep routine, including how much sleep you’re getting and your sleep hygiene habits."

While Dr. Winter says there are no published benefits to coffee naps, he's experienced the great results in practice. "I have a little portable espresso device and make a quick cup before I sack out," he says. After you wake up, you'll be bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, and ready to take on the rest of your day.

Coffee isn't the only way to give your naps an upgrade. Here's how getting acupuncture can, too. And if you're not into snoozing with needles, don't worry: Try the "key drop" power nap technique instead.

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