Amazing trick supercharges your power nap so you don't wake groggy

Oct 22, 2015 at 8:01 p.m. ET
Image: Antonio Diaz/Getty Images

Naps are awesome. They help you work, think and feel better. But there's an easy way to "supercharge" your nap, and all you need is one little ingredient: caffeine.

Wait, what? Isn't caffeine notorious for making people sleep-deprived, twitchy-eyed zombie insomniacs? It is. Sort of. Drinking coffee, eating dark chocolate or taking in any type of caffeine too close to bedtime can wreak havoc on your sleep schedule. But when it comes to short daytime naps, it's different. Combining your favorite power drink with your power nap supercharges your sleep, making you more alert and productive than if you'd either just taken a nap or drank a cup of coffee, say a handful of studies.

More: Power naps for power women: Worth it?

Here's how it works: Drink one serving of caffeine when you hit your mid-afternoon slump. (Coffee works but so does tea, Diet Coke, Red Bull or even those little energy drink packets you can slip into any liquid.) Drink your grown-up Go Go Juice as fast as you can, no sipping allowed, because you want the caffeine to hit your system at the same time. Then sack out on your favorite napping couch, chair or office corner and head to snooze city. You can set an alarm for about 20 minutes or just wait for the caffeine jolt to wake you. Timing it this way allows you to awake refreshed and energetic, ready to hit the ground running, as explained in this Vox video.

This little productivity hack works because caffeine mimics a brain chemical called adenosine. Adenosine floats around your body and accumulates in receptors in your brain throughout the day. The more of it you have, the more tired you feel. But caffeine is chemically similar to adenosine so it can bind to the same receptors — minus the sleepy side effects. Napping clears the adenosine receptors so all the caffeine can bind to them, making your java dose more potent than it might otherwise be.

More: Four cups of coffee a day is the limit says new EU study

It's probably not something you want to do every day — becoming dependent on a daily caffeine dose can cause health problems ranging from high blood pressure to brain fog to rebound exhaustion — but it's a great trick to keep up your sleeve for days when you need a little boost.

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