Everyone knows that the afternoon is really not the most productive time of the day for most people. But discussion of what to do about this fact can get pretty heated. All-day caffeine addicts claim a constant drip of coffee is the obvious answer (and quit the scaremongering, coffee haters--it's not that bad for you!).

Meanwhile, others warn that all those cappuccinos really aren't the best or the most natural course of action. The clear solution, they insist, is to stop fighting your body's instincts and just take a nap already.

Turns out it might be time to call off the war and make peace. Why? Because everybody is right.

Bring on the "napuccino"

That's the claim of a recent post on blog Dumb Little Man summing up the scientific research on the afternoon snooze. The bottom line of the post? Bring on the "napuccino."

"A napuccino, aka coffee nap, is basically what it sounds like. You consume coffee (or other caffeinated products) immediately before taking a brief nap," explains author Benjamin Fishel. "Research suggests that drinking 150 to 200mg of caffeine just prior to a 20-minute nap appears to be the best way to do this."

This might sound about as sensible as shoving multiple Twinkies into your mouth while you run on a treadmill, but Fishel reports that while the idea seems counterintuitive, it actually has serious science to back it up. The energy and productivity boosting effects of the "napuccino" all come down to a brain chemical called adenosine, which promotes sleep.

Naps clear this chemical from our brains, hence their refreshing effects. What happens when you drink a coffee right before you lay your head down for 20 minutes or so?

Caffeine "gets absorbed into your bloodstream via your small intestine, and also binds to those same [adenosine] receptors to give you that much needed energy. When they are clear of adenosine, this opens up the receptor to caffeine, and the result is that you receive an extra jolt. It's essentially like removing the adenosine guards from the doors of your brain to let the caffeine stroll right in and wake you up," Fishel reports.

The fine print

He does offer a few guidelines for getting this double jolt of wakefulness, however, including ensuring you are truly sleepy before you drink that coffee (otherwise, no surprise, you won't be able to drift off), avoiding sugar in your caffeinated drink of choice, and contenting yourself with a light sleep (research shows this will rejuvenate you just as well as a deep slumber). Now you're all set to give the napuccino a try!

Not sold on this unorthodox sounding coffee-nap combo? There are other methods to try, ranging from the delicious (dark chocolate) to the wacky (how about a short dance party or kitten video binge?).

Give the napuccino a try and let us know how it goes in the comments.

Published on: Oct 7, 2015