CNET logo Why You Can Trust CNET

Our advice is expert-vetted and based on independent research, analysis and hands-on testing from our team of Certified Sleep Coaches. If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. Reviews ethics statement

Need an Energy Boost? 2 Tips for Making a Coffee Nap Work for You

If you're looking for an afternoon boost, use a coffee nap to feel refreshed and focused.

Taylor Leamey Senior Writer
Taylor Leamey writes about all things wellness, specializing in mental health, sleep and nutrition coverage. She has invested hundreds of hours into studying and researching sleep and holds a Certified Sleep Science Coach certification from the Spencer Institute. Not to mention the years she spent studying mental health fundamentals while earning her bachelor's degrees in both Psychology and Sociology. She is also a Certified Stress Management Coach.
Expertise Bachelor of Science, Psychology and Sociology Credentials
  • Certified Sleep Science Coach, Certified Stress Management Coach
Taylor Leamey
3 min read
Man relaxing with his eyes closed in a chair, enjoying a cup of coffee
Tempura/Getty Images

Everyone says that napping will ruin your sleep at night. But here's the secret no one wants to admit: Naps work, especially if you pair them with coffee. Yes, you read that right. Coffee and sleep seem like opposites, but if you do it correctly, it might just be the boost you need. 

The concept is simple: Drink a cup of coffee, nap and wake up feeling refreshed. But there's more to it than that: You have to drink your coffee the right way and nap at the right time. Here's how to do it right. 

Plus, here's how to make sure you're getting restful sleep, four workouts to help you sleep and how to sleep cool during a heat wave.

What exactly is a coffee nap?

A coffee nap is simple -- you drink a cup (or two) of coffee and then immediately nap. It's a practical and low-effort way to raise your energy levels during the day.

There's some science behind coffee naps. Coffee dissolves in our blood and cell membranes, which means it can penetrate the blood-brain barrier. When caffeine enters the brain, it competes with adenosine in your brain to get to the brain cell receptors. Adenosine is the chemical neuromodulator that makes us feel tired. When adenosine makes it to the receptors, we get drowsy. 

Woman standing by the window, smelling her cup of coffee
Klaus Vedfelt/Getty Images
CNET Health Tips logo

Caffeine doesn't eliminate the adenosine in the brain. However, a coffee nap capitalizes on the natural drop in adenosine levels when we're asleep. So if you drink coffee right before you nap, there is less adenosine to battle for the coveted brain receptors. Which means you will wake up feeling alert and energized. 

The studies supporting the effectiveness of coffee naps are limited. The studies available have a small sample size.

Read more: Best Coffee Makers in 2022

If you're going to coffee nap, you need to have the right tools. A dependable coffee maker will change your life and the way you drink coffee. For the everyday person, we suggest a soild drip coffee pot like the Oxo Brew 8-Cup Coffee Maker. It's compact, stylish and really easy to use. 


Read our Oxo 8 Cup Coffee Maker review.

2 simple tips for coffee napping

You have to nap for the right amount of time

The nap duration is crucial for getting the most out of your coffee nap. So get your alarm ready. Your coffee nap should only be about 15-20 minutes for the best results. The nap shouldn't be longer than 20 minutes; otherwise, you risk losing out on the benefits of the caffeine getting into the brain. 

Additionally, it takes around 20 minutes to get into deeper stages of sleep. Once you enter a deeper stage, waking up will likely result in disorientation and negate any positive results a coffee nap offers.  

Always proceed with caution: You can go wrong with a coffee nap. Napping too close to bed will likely disturb your sleep. Given the time it takes our bodies to break down caffeine, you should keep your coffee naps at least 6 hours before bed

Read more: Best Mattresses to Buy Right Now

You have to drink your coffee at the right speed

If you intend to use caffeine to give you a boost after a nap, you can't slowly drink your coffee. It's best to drink it quickly and then get into bed before you start to feel the effects. The existing studies use approximately two cups of coffee. 

Also, it's recommended that you drink it black and avoid the cream, milk or sugar. Added sugars or flavors may give you a sugar high, resulting in an energy crash later. 

The TL;DR version of coffee naps is: Quickly drink two cups of black coffee and sleep for approximately 20 minutes (no longer). Wake up and feel refreshed. 

For more sleep advice, check out our tips on food to eat before bed, how to fall asleep naturally and how to get more out of your night's sleep.  

More from 12 Days of Tips

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.