Nappuccino: Caffeine Naps for Alertness, says Dr. Walker

The Nappuccino: Caffeine, Adenosine, and the Caffeine Nap

Walker explains that caffeine works by blocking adenosine receptors in the brain, effectively hitting the mute button on sleepiness. However, adenosine continues to build up, and when the caffeine wears off, a crash occurs.

The nappuccino, or caffeine nap, takes advantage of the timing of caffeine’s effects. It takes 12-17 minutes for caffeine to reach peak plasma concentration, so the initial alertness felt within the first few minutes of consuming coffee is likely due to the warm temperature of the drink and conditioned responses to the smell and taste.

The temperature of the beverage plays a role in waking up, as warming up the core body temperature helps with the transition from sleep to wakefulness. The caffeine then provides a sustained boost in alertness after the initial effects of the warm drink.

The Nappuccino: Napping Without the Grogginess

Walker and Huberman discuss the concept of a “nappuccino” or caffeine nap. The idea is to strategically time a short nap with caffeine intake to maximize the benefits of both while minimizing sleep inertia, the grogginess often experienced upon waking.

To execute a successful nappuccino, one would consume a small amount of caffeine, such as an espresso, just before taking a 20-minute nap. As the person falls asleep, the caffeine begins to take effect, reaching peak plasma concentration around the 17 to 20-minute mark. This timing aligns perfectly with the end of the nap, allowing the individual to wake up feeling refreshed and alert, thanks to the combined effects of the nap and the caffeine.

The nappuccino offers a clever way to reap the benefits of a power nap without the drawbacks of sleep inertia, making it an appealing option for those seeking a quick energy boost during the day.

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