A few years ago, a friend told me about Coffee Naps – a popular trend among musicians and artists who need to get their energy up in the afternoon and evening. I thought it sounded nuts at first, but actually it makes good sense. The idea is to consume some caffeine, then immediately take a (short) nap. The caffeine takes about 20-30 minutes to enter your bloodstream, so the combined effect of the rest and the caffeine give you an extra burst of energy when you awake.
My friend’s experience is backed up by research — according to a study published in Clinical Neurophysiology in 2003, researchers created an experiment that measured the performance of students in a computer task. The students were divided into 5 groups, and each group tried a different approach to re-energize in the middle of their work. One group took a 20-minute nap, one group consumed 200 mg of caffeine plus a nap. Two other groups had a nap and then either washed their face, or used a bright light to wake up, and the fifth group rested without sleeping. The results showed that the group who consumed caffeine plus a nap had the best performance in their work.
I have tried coffee naps, but I find that coffee gives me jitters or keeps me awake at night if I drink it too late in the afternoon. I tried replacing coffee with green tea – specifically Matcha. Matcha has less caffeine than coffee, but more than other types of green tea. The ‘goldilocks’ caffeine level of Matcha, combined with the calming effects of l-theanine, an amino acid found almost exclusively in green tea, creates the perfect calm alertness I am looking for after a nap. Green tea is also less irritating to your stomach, and is less likely to give you that jittery, shaky feeling, even if you drink several cups. Green Tea Naps work even better for me than Coffee Naps – a healthy way to restore energy and focus when I need it.
How to take a Green Tea Nap
1. Preparation is key – take a few minutes to create a peaceful, quiet spot where you can comfortably close your eyes and lie down uninterrupted. An eye mask can help you drift off if the room is too bright, and you may rest better with a light blanket or coat over you.
2. Turn off distractions and set an alarm if you need one. 20 to 30 minutes is the best time frame for a Green Tea Nap: less than 20 minutes, and you won’t feel the effects of the caffeine when you wake up, and more than 45 minutes can leave you feeling groggy. If you need a more intense recharge, set the alarm for 90 minutes, which equates to one sleep cycle. Waking up between 45 and 90 minutes usually results in a cranky-toddler reaction for me, so I recommend you avoid mid-cycle wakeups!
3. Drink a cup of green tea. Warm (not hot) tea will help relax you into restful sleep. Choose Matcha for a bit more caffeine, or Sencha for a milder effect.
4. Immediately lie down, close your eyes, and breathe deeply. It’s OK if you don’t find you fall asleep: The National Sleep Foundation confirms that resting with your eyes closed is very nearly as restorative to your body and brain as sleeping.