Why Coffee Naps Are a Mom’s New Best Friend

Member Spotlight | March 19, 2019

What is a coffee nap?

Have you heard about coffee naps? I promise that I didn’t make this up. It’s a real thing. A coffee nap is as simple as it sounds—you drink a cup of coffee and then take a quick power nap (15–20 minutes is ideal but no longer than 30 minutes).

When I first heard about this, I was confused. Coffee and naps are two of my favorite things, but aren’t you supposed to choose one or the other? Coffee to wake you up or a nap to give you a quick rest? Nope—scientists have found that these two things actually work better when they’re together. People feel more rested and alert after taking a coffee nap than they do from simply drinking a cup of coffee or taking a nap without the caffeine beforehand. How ridiculous AND amazing is that?

Not buying it?

Need some proof? I hear ya. My husband’s reaction was somewhere along the lines of, “Scientists will say anything, won’t they?” It’s natural for us to be skeptical of anything that sounds too good to be true. Here are some of the studies that you can check out for yourself:

Coffee naps improve alertness in drivers more than caffeine by itself

Coffee naps prove more effective at fighting afternoon sleepiness than naps + face washing or naps + bright light exposure

Coffee naps are shown to be more effective than napping alone

How do coffee naps work?

You might think that ingesting caffeine would make falling asleep difficult. Caffeine doesn’t work instantly though. It takes about 20–30 minutes for your body to feel the effects of your coffee intake. So, it’s important to limit your nap time to about 20 minutes.

The science behind why coffee naps work is a little complicated for non-scientific people like me, but I’ll paraphrase; a byproduct of our brain activity is a molecule called adenosine. Adenosine fits into receptors in our brain. When there’s too much adenosine, we feel tired. Caffeine comes into our brains and fights for spots in these same receptors, essentially blocking adenosine and stopping us from feeling tired. Sleeping naturally clears adenosine from these receptors. So, by sleeping while coffee is making its way through our digestive system and up to our brains, we’re clearing a path in our brains for the caffeine to be more effective.  That’s why we end up feeling more energized and alert after coffee napping. Tada!

Why coffee naps are a mom’s new best friend

So, as if the news that coffee + naps = magic wasn’t good enough, here’s more. Coffee naps are absolutely perfect for busy moms for a few reasons:

1. Moms are notoriously sleep-deprived

It begins in pregnancy when you start waking up multiple times in the night to pee or re-adjust. Then we wake up throughout the night with newborns, toddlers, and sick or scared kids for years to come. I can’t think of another segment of the population that could use a nap more than mothers. When getting a full night’s sleep just isn’t an option for you, Momma, try implementing a daytime coffee nap.

2. Moms need to be productive

Whether we’re working moms or stay-at-home moms, we don’t have the luxury of days off. We have to feed the kids, clean the house, grocery shop, run errands, pay the bills, do the laundry, plan birthday parties, wash the dishes. It doesn’t matter how tired we are, we’ve gotta do what we’ve gotta do. But imagine if you could take 20–30 minutes out of your day to take a coffee nap and suddenly be more energized to tackle that to-do list. What if those 20 minutes made you more productive and more patient (because you don’t feel so darn exhausted)? The “mombie” version of us isn’t fun, for us or for our families.

3. Moms usually don’t have time to sip and enjoy their coffee anyway

I genuinely love coffee and I want every cup to last forever. But I rarely get to savor every little sip like I wish I could. The good news is that this works in our favor in this area. Coffee naps require you to drink your coffee pretty quickly. If you sip on your coffee slowly, then you may be drinking that last drop 30 minutes after you started, which allows some of the caffeine to get to your brain before you can get to sleep.  So, down that coffee fast, Momma.

4. Even busy moms can usually sneak in a 20-minute nap

Moms are some of busiest people on the planet, but even us business-owning, multiple-kids-with-multiple-extracurricular-activities moms can sneak in a 20-minute nap now and then. My kids are still young, so I can’t just nap while on the job unless they are right there with me. Sometimes, I’ll turn on a quick episode of Sofia the First (or another Netflix option) and cuddle them so that I can get my power nap in. They are generally content to be still for 20 minutes if they’re sufficiently entertained. Good thing is, 20 minutes is all I need.

If your kids are older and more self-reliant, tell them that you need a quick nap to feel rested and be your best. Hopefully, they’ll understand that you’re taking care of yourself and they’ll learn that it’s important for them to do the same.

But what if I’m tired all the time?

As much as this has been fun to write about, if you are truly chronically exhausted, you should attempt to get more sleep and monitor your nutrition. A coffee nap is a fun solution on occasion. If you find yourself needing naps to make it through every day, then something needs to change. Start by tracking the amount of sleep you get and keeping a food and water journal. Then, talk to your doctor and see what you can come up with together.

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