By DIANA ZHANG
Scientists have newly discovered an efficient method to maximize alertness. The process is quite simple. Step one: drink coffee, and do so quickly. Step two: sleep for 15-20 minutes.
The combination of a power nap and a good cup of coffee seems unreal, since it is almost impossible to fall asleep under the influence of caffeine. So what is the loophole? Sleep before the caffeine hits and wake up when it does.
According to CNN news, caffeine is usually absorbed in the small intestine of the body, in which it travels through the bloodstream and up into the brain. When it reaches the brain, the caffeine binds a receptor in the brain that is responsible for tiredness, leading to the drowsiness you feel as the day goes on. The caffeine speeds up the nerve cells, causing the body to feel that burst of energy after drinking coffee. The down side of this entire process is that there is a 20 minute delay before the caffeine actually begins to work. Now here is where the nap comes in. Not only does the nap clear the body of adenosine for the caffeine to work more efficiently, but it also gives subjects a sudden burst of energy, energy that they cannot just obtain from coffee alone.
Major studies have been done on this new coffee nap method since the early 2000’s. As stated by Research Gate, researchers at the Loughborough University of England conducted an experiment with the coffee naps by allowing subjects to have 150 mg of caffeine in their coffee, and subsequently take a 15 minute nap. The combination of the coffee and nap not only reduced subjects’ sleepiness when they were placed in a driving simulation, but also maximized their alertness while driving, causing them to make fewer errors. According to Clinical Neurophysiology, a health research website, another study was done at the Hiroshima University in Japan, in which young adults were given 200 mg of caffeine, followed by a 20 minute nap. The results concluded that subjects who took a coffee nap performed significantly better on memory tests compared to those who did not.
High school can be a time of staying up late due to the amount of tests and homework given. Sometimes just having caffeine is not enough to pull an all-nighter. These coffee naps could be the perfect alternative for staying up to study. When asked about the results that coffee has on her ability to stay awake, student Kara Sun (Jr.) said, “I always get coffee but sometimes I don’t get the energy I need! Plus, naps are always great.” Coffee and napping appears to be much better than just a power nap or just a cup of coffee. This new trend is becoming the perfect combination for maximum stimulation of the brain. Student Lina Ya (Jr.) said, “At certain points in time I need bursts of energy that usually you don’t achieve by either chugging coffee or taking a nap.”
As this trend begins to increase in popularity and high schools become more intense, students are willing to take the challenge and try these coffee naps. When surveyed about potential participation, student Kuki Tran (Sr.) said, “I feel like I’m willing to take this risk. It’s not that the two tests I’m taking are big, it’s just I want to do well on the first one of the year to start off the year on a good foot.” Parisa Bastani (Sr.) said “ [Coffee naps] would be great for the days when I have a lot going on and I really need to do well on an exam.”
These coffee naps are gaining popularity not only among high school students, but also among college and graduate students as well, where pressure and stress are as equally hectic, if not, intensified. “I would definitely do them [coffee naps] if I were desperate. Right now, I just want the most amount sleep that I can get,” said Jenny Guo, a freshman at the University of California, Berkeley. She elaborated on seeing many college students on campus attempting the coffee naps as they try to study for their exams. University of California, Irvine graduate student Emon Heidari said, “I am willing to try them not only because of staying up, but also the science behind them.”
If students are already staying up late doing homework and studying, these coffee naps are a more efficient way for them to maximize their focus and alertness. As this method gains popularity, more students will be willing to attempt these coffee naps for their academic needs.