How to Take A Caffeine Nap

by Brad Isaac on February 10, 2006

I found an interesting energy tip in Field and Stream magazine. I am not normally a reader, but was waiting for an appointment and couldn’t find anything else to read. So I picked one up and flipped almost immediately to a side bar tip The Caffeine Nap. I have never heard of such a thing so I was immediately intrigued.

Sleep researchers at the Loughborough University in Britain did several tests on fatigued drivers to compare the effects of different methods for a driver can use to stay awake. They put the volunteers in driving simulators while they were sleepy and let them drive. Some of the tests included rolling down windows for cold exposure, blasting the radio and slapping oneself in the face to try to stay awake. But what researchers found worked the best was a Caffeine Nap.

The Caffeine Nap is simple. You drink a cup of coffee and immediately take a 15 minute nap. Researchers found coffee helps clear your system of adenosine, a chemical which makes you sleepy. So in testing, the combination of a cup of coffee with an immediate nap chaser provided the most alertness for the longest period of time. The recommendation was to nap only 15 minutes, no more or less and you must sleep immediately after the coffee.

Considering this is something cheap and accessible to virtually anyone it’s probably a good tip to keep in your toolbag for long trips.


Henry Bowman February 10, 2006 at 6:15 pm

Well. . I just took a caffeine nap. I do feel more alert right now.

I sorta did it wrong though. See, it takes me a while to drink a cup of coffee, so I slammed a Coke Zero in record time. By the time I get finished with a cup of coffee, the caffeine probably will already be started doing its thing.

Maybe I’ll try it with some warm coffee.

Dom MacDonald February 11, 2006 at 3:53 am

He He, I actually studied there and its called Loughborough University, Not Britain University in Loughborough. Also the only English person that says oneself is the Queen ;) . Excellent article though, digg ++

Sebhelyesfarku February 11, 2006 at 5:23 am

coffein is crap, increases the risk of heart attack, stroke etc. I don’t drink coffee at all.

Christophe February 11, 2006 at 8:11 am

Good job promoting lies. Coffee actually lowers the risk of stroke and heart attack, you idiot.

February 11, 2006 at 9:14 am

My secret plan to rename Loughborough University has been foiled again!! LOL.

I was typing that up on my Pocket PC and goofed it up 3 times. My apologies to the University and the Queen :)

February 11, 2006 at 9:39 am

“coffein is crap, increases the risk of heart attack, stroke etc. I don’t drink coffee at all.”

Like all things, coffee is good if taken in moderate amount..

Stop promoting lies :)

[Geeks Are Sexy] Tech. News

Jon February 11, 2006 at 10:19 am

This actually works! I’m a college student and I’ve spent the last four years doing the caffeine nap. It’s really true. It totally gets you going when you need it. It’s nice to see my own ‘personal’ findings validated.

Hector Torvisque February 11, 2006 at 10:36 am

University of Britain? Are you mad? Do you have a University of America?

February 11, 2006 at 10:54 am

I do this to have more lucid dreams, one ounce of espresso before bed, will fuel some vivid dreams.

Caution: make sure you’re really sleepy else you’ll be awake all night if you can go to sleep before the caffeine kicks in.

Gregorio February 11, 2006 at 11:11 am

I tried it … its ok but the best method to stay awake is the classic “frustrated wank” … just keep it hard and you ´ll never fell asleep. cheers!! ;)

Dude February 11, 2006 at 11:39 am

I once took a hit of LSD before accidentally falling asleep. I had the most interesting night’s sleep of my life. The nicotine patch also gives you some very odd psychological dreams. I think any stimulant before sleep produces pretty strange effects.

John Edwards February 11, 2006 at 11:51 am

I’m still trying to figure out if the guy’s picture in the upper left corner of this screen is hot or not. My friend says he is TOTALLY doable, but I think his body parts are out of proportion.

February 11, 2006 at 12:18 pm

As the wife of said guy in picture, tell your friend “thanks” he is totally ‘doable’. No proportion issues here – sorry ladies he’s taken.

February 11, 2006 at 1:35 pm

sniff some coke

Cambridge Scientist February 11, 2006 at 2:56 pm

Lost all trust in this article when I read “University of Britain” at Loughborough.

“Loughborough University” is a well known university in Britain. Famed for its sports and related studies. Many of Britain’s Olympic athletes and support crews have studied there.

If the source can’t even be quoted right, how credible will the content be?

AmericanU February 11, 2006 at 2:59 pm

University of Britain? Are you mad? Do you have a University of America?

February 11, 2006 at 3:18 pm

Ok, I’ve already noted and apologized for making the mistake in my reference to Loughborough University.

To further support the claim, how about PubMed?

I’ve changed the original to reference Loughborough University.

February 11, 2006 at 3:45 pm

Yea there is an american university! Located in Washington D.C.
Go have a tea break fool.

February 11, 2006 at 7:11 pm

w00t! I’m trying this out today…

February 12, 2006 at 12:17 am

Actually, caffeine simply blocks the nerve receptors that normally intake adenosine. When the caffeine wears off, you have even more adenosine in your body looking for nerve receptors to attach to, which explains the post-caffeine crash.

I did a research project in mathematical modeling on this a year ago.

soubriquet February 12, 2006 at 1:23 am

There used to be an American University in beirut…
6.20 a.m….. I need the opposite of a caffeine nap.

Teh ayatollah of rock and rollah February 12, 2006 at 1:51 am

What are you reading for?

February 12, 2006 at 3:25 am

How does this work if you’re unable to fall asleep, say, for the first 10-minutes? Does the 15-minutes start when you actually fall asleep or when you lay down?

A. Ogata February 12, 2006 at 5:43 am

hmm and all this time i thought crystal meth was the best way to stay up…

February 12, 2006 at 5:49 am

Wow, you need to delete some of those 3rd grade comments. Deleting a valid opposing opinion is one thing. Deleting trash is another. Right or wrong, I like your approach on a lot of stuff. If you expanded on your ideas and came up with more (original) ideas, I think you could write a book on productivity. I would buy it.

greg-o-rino February 12, 2006 at 10:25 am

About a third of a century ago, when I was in college, this was accomplished using vivarin or no-doz, swallowing a couple tablets and hitting the rack. The stimulants made sure you didn’t oversleep. Felt like being launched from a slingshot when you woke up.

Llama February 12, 2006 at 11:32 am

Do you have to drink the coffee right away? It usually takes me like a half hour to finish a cup. Thoughts?

February 12, 2006 at 3:08 pm

i’ve been trying to find a drug alternative to caffine to keep me awake. any ideas?

February 12, 2006 at 3:31 pm


If you want to stay productive and awake, you need to be diagnosed with ADD/ADHD or narcolepsy.

Because the drugs prescribed for those disorders are (vitamin A) adderall, provigil, ritalin, and rarely methylamphetamine.

Vitamin A is my favorite substitute for caffeine. Try setting an alarm an hour before u have to wake up, take an adderall, go back to sleep, and let Vitamin A serve as your alarm clock. I guarantee you will awake spontaneously, warm and ready to bang out the day.

Matthew John February 12, 2006 at 4:38 pm

I’m one of the 140,000 Narcoleptics in the U.S., onset after taking 2 concussions in a 4-week period a few years ago… (a- no “drain-bamaged” jokes, please.. oh, what the hell, go ahead! b- how DO those football players keep going with multiple concussions, and WHY?)

Anyway, back on point. This condition makes it imperative for me always try new ways to increase aletness, and to be frank, consiousness. For about two years now, my morning routine has been to wake an hour earlier than needed, down a caffeine drink, sometimes a tablet, and go back to sleep… 35-45 minutes later I’m awake and Ready To Go.
On the official side, there’s a great drug called modafinil (US:Provigil, CA:Alertec) which actually stimulates wakefulness without any of the other stims of speeders, including caffeine. Great stuff, $15/day for me… it’s started to be prescribed for more things… everyone who’s written about it says “YUP. It makes alertness better for just about anyone, sleep-disordered or not.”

Yeargh Matey February 13, 2006 at 4:38 pm


cm February 14, 2006 at 2:31 am

Caffeine doesn’t clear your system-let’s just say brain-of adenosine, it blocks the adenosine receptors so that adenosine can no longer bind to them and, via a series of as yet not understood steps, make you sleepy. So the adenosine is still there, it just can’t do its thing (and of course this is all a matter of degree and dosage; some dose of caffeine blocks some proportion of adenosine receptors).

David de la Fuente February 14, 2006 at 9:04 pm

My dad always said to chew gum on long driving trips, that you couldn’t fall asleep if your mouth was moving furiously. Can’t wait to try the caffeine nap out, though.

February 14, 2006 at 9:21 pm

hmm…gum? Good idea. I’ve also heard of people drinking milkshakes to stay awake too.

Aeurix February 15, 2006 at 3:30 pm

Gum doesn’t work, but eat a can of beans before you take a long trip and I GAURENTEE you’ll stay awake the whole trip. Nothing says WAKEUP like shitting your pants.

Matt February 15, 2006 at 4:18 pm

I just took a caffeine nap. I woke up feeling energized and in a really really bad mood. irritable, tense, anxious. Would not recommend it.

Jeremy Tials February 16, 2006 at 11:25 pm

What is the opposite of a caffeine nap? A unisom vigil? Cast one more vote/vouch for the nap/coffee – and I like jolt gum even better than coffee.

Ryan February 17, 2006 at 4:56 pm

You guys are all hillarious. I’m still laughing….
“I tried it … its ok but the best method to stay awake is the classic “frustrated wank” … just keep it hard and you ´ll never fell asleep. cheers!! ;)

February 18, 2006 at 10:08 pm

“coffein is crap, increases the risk of heart attack, stroke etc. I don’t drink coffee at all.”

Why bother with facts when you can make stuff up, right? I don’t drink rose hip tea at all (since we are sharing things about ourselves). I kid cause I love.

as for:

“Actually, caffeine simply blocks the nerve receptors that normally intake adenosine. When the caffeine wears off, you have even more adenosine in your body looking for nerve receptors to attach to, which explains the post-caffeine crash.”


“Caffeine doesn’t clear your system-let’s just say brain-of adenosine, it blocks the adenosine receptors so that adenosine can no longer bind to them and, via a series of as yet not understood steps, make you sleepy. So the adenosine is still there, it just can’t do its thing.”

Isn’t it the sleep that is supposed to clear out the adenosine levels not the caffeine? I can’t tell you if it does or not, ask a doctorb (the b is for bargain)

As for the action of Caffeine and its metabolites, there is little biochemical difference from using caffeine and exercising with a certain degree of adrenaline. The whole adenosine competitive inhibitory deal prevents adenosine from sending inhibitory signals to the body so as to release less adrenaline. A second action is to keep cells from being less sensitive to adrenaline.

Sudden, extreme frenetic exercise is not a good idea any more than high doses (greater than being discussed in caffeine naps) of caffeine is but that does not make caffeine dangerous.

The side effects of pronounced caffeine abuse seem very similar to long-term extreme stress which makes sense to me because caffeine effectively prevents cells from partially “ignoring” levels of adrenaline signals as it normally would, thus mimicking a long-term elevated adrenal response (just like stress).

At any rate, caffeine wears off and we build up tolerance to it. Try getting 8 hours of sleep without the caffeine.

Raj February 24, 2006 at 9:06 pm

If you feel drowsy in the morning after waking up, have an apple instead of coffee. Its better than caffeine to wake you up.

jessica March 2, 2006 at 6:36 pm

Does it have to be coffee? Does black tea work as well?

March 2, 2006 at 7:25 pm

I’m not sure how much caffeine is in black tea but if you could figure that out you could drink an equivalent amount. Your average cup of coffee has 100mg of caffeine.

March 5, 2006 at 1:11 pm

You chumps. I said University of America, not American University – the semantics of the thing are *quite* different. Go drink some coffee, Poopface et al.

November 24, 2006 at 2:10 pm


It works I tried but did not believe until it was discribed here.

Brad Isaac November 26, 2006 at 9:41 pm

Glad you like it..

December 14, 2006 at 2:28 am

It’s true! I’ve been taking these naps for several years. An older coworker called it a “combat nap” when he saw me take my 15 minutes slouching in an upholstered study chair. You have to keep the need to reawaken as background knowledge, relegated away from your consciousness which is given over to random thought patterns.

I first noticed the state when I was a kid running cartoons through my head as I lay in bed at night, usually Tom & Jerry, allowing the scenes to gradually unfold of their own accord. I figured I was giving the dream cycle a jump start (I never understood why it worked better after a glass of Dr. Pepper or hot chocolate). I came to realize it aided my entrance to semi-lucid sleep. It eventually became easier to doze off whenever I needed to.

The two key elements for learning to recharge this way involve envisioning the brief rest period as a priority over all other concerns and usually choosing a not overly comfortable space to lean back and nod off. It also helps to stretch like a cat or dog a bit in the positioning process. Who’s going to question the ability of a cat to nap?

Megan February 1, 2007 at 10:51 am

Wow I just happened upon this blog entry and it makes me smile because I just discovered my own version of the caffeine nap by accident. For me, it was a dose of the pain reliever Excedrin, not coffee, but they have a nearly equal amount of caffeine. I had been in pain and extremely drowsy, so I popped 2 Excedrin and took a 20 minute nap. It only lasted 20 minutes because I felt SO great that I couldn’t sleep a minute longer. I had the most productive day I’ve had literally in months! Everyone was shocked at how much energy I had, and I couldn’t explain it to anyone other than to say, “That Excedrin really kicked in during my nap!” Now after reading this blog I have research to confirm what happened to me.

Brad Isaac February 1, 2007 at 11:25 am

Megan, Welcome to Achieve-IT!

Glad you found us. Yes, the caffeine nap has served me well over the years too. No explanation until the research came in.

I used to drink coffee late at night after a date or something and found the next morning to feel terrific.

James Quinn March 20, 2007 at 5:55 pm


Thanks for this information. I also found many of the blog comments to be interesting advice, such as taking Vitamin A when waking or that ‘Exederin’ has almost as much caffiene as a cup of coffee.

I know that all aspirins have some caffiene in them.

(although I am uncertain of the amount for each one. Interestingly enough, many Doctors recommend taking one Aspirin a day because it helps to counteract cholesterol in the bloodstream. As aspirin a day can actually help prevent strokes, heart attacks and blocked arteries.

Caffiene powder, such as in ‘Wake-up’ tablets is often used in the drinking water of professional cyclists. The reason being because caffiene seems to affect the absorbtion of lactic acid into the muscle…which causes the ‘aching’ feeling of a fatigued muscle.

Also, black tea has more caffeine than coffee does…

although I am unclear about whether this is the dry weight of the cofee and tea, or whether it refers to a cup of coffee (a solution), or a cup of tea (an infusion). Tea leaves may contain more caffiene than an equal amount of coffee beans, although tea leaves must be steeped to get the leaves to release SOME of their caffiene and tannin.

I suppose that you could drink the coffee or tea cold, to make it more ‘gulpable’.

Cola drinks, especially stuff like ‘Jolt’ contain as much if not more caffiene than a cup of coffee. Personally I am not fond of cola drinks.

About five or so years ago, many people in Toronto were exhorting the values of ginseng tablets to keep the mind awake and alert. A popular saying was ‘Coffee keeps the body awake, ginseng keeps the mind awake.’

I have also heard that north-American ginseng (white ginseng) is not as good as Asian ginseng (red ginseng).

I wish I knew about the caffiene nap in University while cramming, or pulling another all-nighter because I had procrastinated until the eleventh hour and the essay was due tomorrow! It also would have helped me out while driving during long nights.

On a related topic. I have sleep apnea, which means that I stop breathing several times (over a hundred) during the night. Sleep apnea is about as common as asthma, and it characterized by such things as loud snoring during the night and a feeling of being tired, drowsy, and groggy during the day. It is worse for your health than smoking a pack of cigarettes a day, and most people with untreated sleep apnea die of a heart attack in their sleep at a fairly young age (50 or 60). Now, I have to wear a respirator mask when I sleep, which pumps compressed air through my nose and into my lungs. Although I am sleeping better now, I still wake up feeling tired and groggy. I will try setting my alarm clock an hour early and taking some vitamin A’s or Aspirins (or both).

Some time ago I learned that a special branch of the Canadian Armed forces uses a hormone based drug which DOES block the uptake of sleep receptor chemicals in the brain. Since this is not an amphetamine, it isn’t hard on the body and there is no ‘tweaking’ and ‘crashing’. it allows small squads of soldiers to be dropped into an area to accomplish their goal within three days to a week while keeping the need for manpower (one shift to stay awake, ont to sleep) and equipment (tents, sleeping bags, air matresses) to a minimum. I can’t remember the name of the drug unfortunately.

Mela May 25, 2008 at 9:08 pm

I might try the vitamin A in the morning thing…I hate coffee and I seriously doubt that I brew my tea dark enough to constitute high caffeine intake…lol

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