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Drinking Coffee before a Nap Increases Brain Functions

Update Date: Sep 01, 2014 12:03 PM EDT

Drinking coffee before a nap might sound counterproductive; however, new research suggests that these "coffee naps" might be beneficial for brain functioning. In two recent mini experiments, researchers from Loughborough University and researchers from Japan found that coffee naps improved people's cognitive abilities.

According to DailyMail, in the study out of Loughborough, researchers found that tired participants who took a 15-20 minute coffee nap made fewer errors in a driving stimulator test. In the other study, researchers recruited 24 young male participants who were instructed to take short naps throughout a 24-hour time span. They were not allowed to have proper sleep. From this study, the team found that men who took coffee naps did better on cognitive tasks in comparison to men who were given a placebo before their naps.

These studies did not find a cause-and-effect relationship between coffee naps and brain function. The concept of a coffee nap was based on how the brain functions in response to caffeine. According to Joseph Stromberg reported in Vox, when adenosine binds with receptors, it causes the brain to feel drowsy and leads to slower nerve cell activity. When people drink coffee, the caffeine ends up binding to some of the receptors, which prevents the body from feeling tired.

Typically, the effects of caffeine kick in around 20 minutes post consumption. Napping naturally reduces the levels of adenosine. In theory, if people nap right after drinking coffee and wake up in around 20 minutes, the effects of the coffee become maximized. However, more studies need to be conducted to examine the effects of coffee naps.

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