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Coffee and naps: A good mix for an alert brain

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Researchers reveal that having coffee and sleeping for around 20 minutes increases the alertness of the brain after getting up.

Scientists have agreed that caffeinated drinks help people to stay awake. However, coffee can take up to 20 minutes to hit the brain. Researchers say that taking a so-called "coffee nap," which is sleeping for about 20 minutes just after coffee intake can help a person stay alert for a longer period of time.

The researchers explain that a brain molecule called adenosine is responsible for a person feeling drowsy. Excess levels of adenosine result in a person feeling sleepy. A caffeinated drink like coffee can block some adenosine receptors, but cannot interfere with all the adenosine receptors, which means that a person may still feel tired after having just coffee.

However, scientists claim that a coffee nap is more effective than just having coffee. Sleeping naturally can clear adenosine from a person's brain. If a person falls asleep for more than 15 to 20 minutes, then the brain can possibly go into deeper sleep stages, which may make it difficult to wake up.

The scientists say that a shorter sleep of less than 20 minutes clears adenosine from the brain. Moreover, it takes up to 20 minutes for caffeine to go through the blood stream to the brain, which means that a combination of coffee and sleeping for 20 minutes can clear as much of adenosine from the brain, which results in increased alertness.

The current study reaffirms previous findings of some researches which reveal that a coffee nap increases the alertness of the brain. A previous study conducted by the researchers at the Loughborough University in the UK observed tired drivers in a car simulator for the research. They gave the participants 150 mg of caffeine in coffee and asked them to sleep for about 15 minutes. The researchers found that with a coffee nap the participants committed less errors in the driving simulator in comparison to when they took either a quick nap or drank just coffee.

Researchers indicate that many people may find it difficult to wake up within 20 minutes, but they say it is the key to increased alertness of the brain.

Next time when you want to be awake, try having a cup of coffee and nap for just 20 minutes!

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