Conventional wisdom says that when you're sleep-deprived, it's best to avoid any kind of stimulation before hitting your pillow. But, it might be time to consider counterintuitive advice. It turns out the secret to getting more out of a nap may lie in sneaking some caffeine beforehand.
The benefits of drinking a cup of coffee before a nap, as highlighted in a recent Vox piece, include having a better memory post-nap and committing fewer errors in tasks performed immediately after. A coffee nap has even been shown in one study to keep you more alert than if you expose yourself to bright light or splash your face with cold water immediately after waking. But having several coffees in the morning and then promptly laying down to sleep at 2 p.m. won't do you any good. Rather, there are two simple tricks to getting the most out of a coffee nap:
1. Prepare a cup of coffee (or other caffeinated beverage), and drink it quickly. You need to be able to go to sleep immediately upon finishing your caffeinated beverage, so if you can't chug a piping hot cup of coffee, stick to something iced. If you take only a few minutes to finish your drink, the caffeine will begin traveling through your bloodstream right as you lay down to go to sleep, and will finish circulating right when you wake up. If you sip too slowly, you'll start to feel energized before you even start your nap.
2. Set an alarm for 20 minutes. Again, you need to wake up the instant caffeine hits your brain. Therefore, limit your nap to 20 minutes or less. That way, you won't fall into the deeper stages of sleep, and feel groggy upon waking. If you time it right, you will start to feel the caffeine hit you, and you'll be ready to take on any big task as soon as you open your eyes.