Tell me if you can relate —
You’re having a lazy Sunday. Perhaps it’s mid-afternoon or so. You’re enjoying a nice cup of your favorite coffee; maybe it’s an Americano, maybe drip. Your eyes are heavy already. You’re tired from doing absolutely nothing and it's a wonderfully lethargic sensation. Once you take your time finishing your brew with delicate and tranquil sips, you take yourself a little lie down and let the sleepiness consume you. When you wake, it feels like you’ve undergone a rejuvenating spell. You’ve reached a new plane of nap consciousness. How long did you sleep? Maybe 20 minutes or somewhere under an hour. How long does it feel like? Maybe 20 years.
Okay, perhaps that’s a tad bit dramatic. But the coffee nap is no joke. Allow me to elaborate:
It’s like a power nap, but fuelled by coffee. You might ask, “Okay, but those two don’t really go together. Isn’t the whole point of coffee to keep me awake?” In theory, yes. In practice, something more transcendent happens. I’m no scientist, but I think this phenomenon deserves to be studied. The trick is, you have to want the nap. If you’re drinking your coffee for the sake of staying awake, you’re not going to get anywhere (you’re certainly not getting to Dreamland anytime soon).
So you drink your coffee, you lie down on your couch (not required, but this is how I do it), and you close your eyes (you’ve taken a nap before, yeah?). What happens next is a caffeine-assisted drift off to sleep. There’s something about being “energized” toward sleep that is unlike your regular run-of-the-mill nap. And when you wake up? The combination of coffee and restorative sleep is a double whammy of refreshment.
Perhaps this is also a good time to mention that I’m not a napper. That is, I am essentially incapable of naps in virtually all other conditions. For instance, if I come home after a long day at the office, body achy and annoyed from sitting at a desk all day, there’s not a chance I’m dozing off to make it right. Much as I might want to nap, sleep doesn’t come naturally to me unless I’m in my bed, under the covers, and it's night time. When I say “I’m just resting my eyes,” I mean it, because 9 times out of 10 I will never be able to actually succumb to sleepiness. Unless, of course, I’ve engaged in the ritual art form of Coffee Napping. Call it a confounding cheat code, but there’s something inexplicable about how injecting half a cup of coffee, kicking up your feet, and closing your eyes unlocks a meditative experience without comparison. If I really want to nap, it must come with a side of coffee. Otherwise, I’m simply lying down, and there’s nothing special about that. So if you’re someone who can nap whenever they damn well please, I implore you to try it hot (because of the addition of coffee, that is).
Allow me to posit a final thought: The Coffee Nap is a lot like the Car Nap, one of the other confusingly perfect scenarios for deep sleep. Like the Coffee Nap, the conditions of the Car Nap appear — at first glance — to be counterintuitive (you are in a bumpy car, after all), yet, unexplainably, you find yourself sinking into your seat and (assuming your head doesn’t start bobbing over the headrest) you awake a completely new person, as though barreling down the highway generates a newfound energy not present at the start of your journey. Note that the car nap only works for passengers. I cannot recommend taking a nap if you are the one driving. I remember fondly the best sleep I’ve ever had in my life.
Let me set the scene: It was my turn to pass driving duties over to my road trip companion. We were traveling through the state and had briefly stopped for some coffee and a bathroom break. When we returned to the car, we swapped seats, took some glugs of our lukewarm cups of joe, and the rest, as they say, is history. Once I settled into the new seat and adjusted it to the prime napping configuration, it took me no time at all to fade into a cathartic, deep sleep. The caffeine was already dancing through my veins, but it was not there to keep me awake — it was there to carry me to tranquility. My traveling buddy said made it to our destination in record time. I would agree. Zero to sleepy in less than a minute.
But don’t take my word for it — take a sip, put your head on the pillow, and wait for the magic to happen.