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Science

Coffee Naps Better For Alertness Than Coffee Or Naps Alone 133

Posted by Soulskill
from the meth-naps-still-frowned-upon dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Caffeine is a staple of most workplaces — it's rare to find an office without a coffee pot or a fridge full of soda. It's necessary (or at least feels like it's necessary) because many workers have a hard time staying awake while sitting at a desk for hours at a time, and the alternative — naps — aren't usually allowed. But new research shows it might be more efficient for employers to encourage brief "coffee naps," which are more effective at returning people to an alert state than either caffeine or naps alone. A "coffee nap" is when you drink a cup of coffee, and then take a sub-20-minute nap immediately afterward. This works because caffeine takes about 20 minutes to get into your bloodstream, and a 20-minute nap clears adenosine from your brain without putting you into deeper stages of sleep. In multiple studies, tired participants who took coffee naps made fewer mistakes in a driving simulator after they awoke than the people who drank coffee without a nap or slept without ingesting caffeine.
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Coffee Naps Better For Alertness Than Coffee Or Naps Alone

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Coffee naps are for closers! [imdb.com]

  • by i kan reed (749298) on Friday August 29, 2014 @10:13AM (#47784137) Homepage Journal

    Every metric that says not doing work at certain times can be good for your work overall can and will be overlooked by the kind of people who want you working 60 hour weeks. They want to look good for their boss, and butts in seats are the best way to do that.

    • by TWX (665546) on Friday August 29, 2014 @10:27AM (#47784265)
      I can attest to this. When I was hourly at a place where they weren't allowed to send us home early, they would find all manner of useless busywork for us to do if they caught us done without more work to do. It became an arms race, between trying to not get caught and trying to catch those not working.

      And for those that want to argue that it's the employer's time, to use the employees how they see fit, one of the fastest ways to demoralize a technical worker is to make him do manual labor that doesn't even serve a purpose; most of us got into technical fields to avoid doing manual labor in the first place, let alone that which doesn't make a positive contribution.
      • by i kan reed (749298) on Friday August 29, 2014 @10:29AM (#47784287) Homepage Journal

        I don't know if most of us got into tech to avoid manual labor. I personally got in it because I like the idea of solving problems, rather than taking care of them for a short while.

        I'd appreciate more physical activity at work, 40 hours a week of physical idleness(on top of sleeping) is not what the human body evolved for.

        • by TWX (665546) on Friday August 29, 2014 @10:38AM (#47784359)
          "Go take these old PCs we pulled from the field, upgrade the RAM, and reimage them so they could be redeployed at some point."

          "Go take these old PCs that are in the redeployment pool and cannibalize them."

          "Go take these cannibalized PCs and load them into this modular shipping container."

          "Go unload this modular shipping container of old cannibalized PCs and load them in this trailer."

          "Go unload this trailer of old cannibalized PCs and load them onto these pallets."

          "Go break-down these pallets of old cannibalized PCs and load them into this modular shipping container."

          It was like Cool Hand Luke without the eggs.
          • by i kan reed (749298) on Friday August 29, 2014 @10:39AM (#47784381) Homepage Journal

            I'm sorry, I didn't mean to suggest I wasn't sympathetic with your plight. Sorry. Busywork does actually suck. Just that a bit of physical labor as part of my work day wouldn't be unwelcome.

            • by TWX (665546)
              Yeah. I now do have a component of labor in my job from time to time, and it's actually interesting, invigorating, and helps to workday to pass more quickly. Plus I don't often have to revisit the exact same problem at the exact same place, so there's variety.
          • Looks like you solved how to keep the manual labor busy....

          • by Nimey (114278)

            Fuck me. Tell me you're exaggerating.

            • by TWX (665546)
              No. If anything I left out a few steps, like going through and reimaging the same enqueued loaner stock two or three times over the course of six months, even though the new image being put down was the same as the old one, and a few instances where cannibalized machines were un-cannibalized before sitting a few months and being re-cannibalized again.
          • by bbsalem (2784853)

            Go take these old PCs and give them a second life as a Linux server.

        • I personally got in it because I like the idea of solving problems, rather than taking care of them for a short while.

          Just don't mistake any of the trades for not being problem-solving professions. Laying out a plumbing stack, electrical plan, etc. and making it work seamlessly (err... perfectly), or welding together a skyscraper are very valid and worthy problem solving engagements. Same with shoeing a horse from rods of iron. You just get to move more in these jobs.

          I'd love to hear from somebody who fe

          • by sjames (1099)

            Not to mention that running the report will itself become part of a bizarre ritual. Not less than once a month, the report must be run, printed in triplicate, placed in a folder (yes, all three copies in the same folder) and filed away unread. It will remain there until the filing cabinet fills whereupon it will be moved to a larger filing facility, still unread. Meanwhile, the electronic copy will be moved from the file server to an archival tape in the library. Years later, the unread paper reports will

          • by bbsalem (2784853)

            Not to mention that finance is fiction, an accounting shell-game, a non-productive exercise that only serves the exercise of flimsy agreements,

          • I took a month off and helped my builder build a new basement under our existing house. It was far more interesting than any IT project I've ever worked on. Figuring out how to dig a hole under and existing dwelling, run drainage so it didn't flood, all the electrical and plumbing challenges, design of doors and windows, and now the interior decoration. If I didn't get paid three times as much as a tradie, I'd swap jobs in a second.
        • by bbsalem (2784853)

          I knew a guy who'd once been in the U.S. Navy aboard an aircraft carrier who had learned the art of doing whatever he wanted to do and please the bass who was more interested in asses in seats than quality work. He did what was asked of him and quickly, but because he never appeared to be not busy he was able to do much more of what interested him than was also related to his role and was never questioned by the boss. This takes an attitude that most don't learn that what you do at work can be self-motivat

      • by poetmatt (793785) on Friday August 29, 2014 @10:34AM (#47784323) Journal

        Of course an employer can do what they want which includes busywork, but that doesn't mean the employer isn't a complete failure when it comes to defining the scope of a job position. Most employers are too lazy to do this well.

        Any employer who can't accept that you won't be busy every second of the day is not an employer worth working for in any country in the world.

      • by Infiniti2000 (1720222) on Friday August 29, 2014 @12:03PM (#47784965)
        When my engineers are low on actual tasks, I encourage them to learn. Go read up on some new technology, play around with that game engine, read some technology magazines or books, etc. That increased knowledge is incredibly useful to the company in the long run, it makes for happier employees, and they are even more marketable. Sounds counterproductive, but I prefer more marketable employees because it means not only do I have a strong team, but now the company is far more appealing to other marketable employees when I have an opening.
        • by TWX (665546)
          I made that argument more times than I could keep track of.

          Part of the problem was that immediate supervisory-types could only barely do their own jobs, and saw just about everyone underneath that was more capable as a threat, so they actively discouraged us to play and learn.

          They even got mad when I took an ancient box and loaded Linux on it to play. It was a friggin' Microchannel box it was so old, and they still panicked because it wasn't 'standard'. Nevermind that the IT department should be the
        • by bbsalem (2784853)

          Actually, that should be an unwritten rule for anyone who dares to call himself "engineer" or "scientist", and if he has a manager who wants the spend the energy micromanaging, a cat and mouse game of "find me not doing exactly what you think I should', will exhaust that person. Most managers I've seen are too lazy to actually know exactly what their employees are doing, so I've known people who have been able to do pretty much whatever they wanted within reason provided they did what was asked, The trick

      • by FatdogHaiku (978357) on Friday August 29, 2014 @01:53PM (#47785877)

        ...And for those that want to argue that it's the employer's time, to use the employees how they see fit, one of the fastest ways to demoralize a technical worker is to make him do manual labor that doesn't even serve a purpose; most of us got into technical fields to avoid doing manual labor in the first place, let alone that which doesn't make a positive contribution.

        One of the scariest things to see is a programmer walking towards the servers with a screwdriver...

      • When I was hourly at a place where they weren't allowed to send us home early, they would find all manner of useless busywork for us to do if they caught us done without more work to do.

        What were they making you do? Was it extra programming projects, crossword puzzles, or mopping the floor? Just curious

        • by TWX (665546)
          That job was desktop support. So, if no trouble tickets were assigned, there was nothing to do. We didn't have permissions to raid the queue either, so if a manager didn't assign a ticket then one couldn't really take the initiative and find new tickets to do.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        Bill Hicks had a great story along these lines; paraphrased to:

        Boss: Why aren't you working?
        Bill: There isn't anything to do.
        Boss: Well pick up a broom and pretend that you're working.
        Bill: You're paid the big money, why don't you pretend that I'm working.

      • most of us got into technical fields to avoid doing manual labor in the first place, let alone that which doesn't make a positive contribution.

        I got into Tech because it paid heaps more than everything else. I'm quite happy to mow lawns or dig a hole if I get paid the same. In fact my last contract I was able to work from home 2 days a week. I was the highest paid gardener in the country :)

    • by jon3k (691256) on Friday August 29, 2014 @10:35AM (#47784337)
      Depends on the employer. Maybe if you have a bunch of $11/hour monkeys working for you all they care about are butts in seats. My upper management wants to see project deadlines hit. They don't care what or how we get it done.
      • No, I'm pretty well compensated for my time, and I'm salaried. It's just stodgy and traditionalist comes with the sector I'm in.

      • by tompaulco (629533)

        My upper management wants to see project deadlines hit. They don't care what or how we get it done.

        Same here, they don't care if you do it during the day or at night as long as it gets done... Oh, and as long as you are here from 8:30 to 5:30 because it looks bad to the other departments if you are not here. You can go ahead and work nights at your discretion, but your butt does need to be in the chair from 8:30 until 5:30.
        A few months ago, I got a call at 6:00 in the morning about an issue. I worked on it until 9, took a shower and went to work. On the way to work, and issue came up, and I asked if so

      • by Tamerlin (940577)

        Depends on the employer. Maybe if you have a bunch of $11/hour monkeys working for you all they care about are butts in seats. My upper management wants to see project deadlines hit. They don't care what or how we get it done.

        Most US employers want asses in seats, because they're too stupid to have learned that people working 60+ hour weeks are impeding progress rather than facilitating it.

    • by bondsbw (888959) on Friday August 29, 2014 @10:39AM (#47784363)

      There's also the question of whose dime this caffeine nap is on: the employee, or the employer.

      Each has an opinion and it's probably not the same opinion.

      • There's also the question of whose dime this caffeine nap is on: the employee, or the employer.

        Each has an opinion and it's probably not the same opinion.

        If an employer allows proper rest breaks, they do it on their own dime. If the employer doesn't allow proper rest breaks, it's still on their dime only in a way beancounters have more trouble counting.

        In this case, there's also the question of where to nap -- not too many employers would like to replace office/factory space with a bed. I suspect only "live at the office" tech companies will do this, both as they already have so many perks and because they will benefit more from better employee concentration

  • by kheldan (1460303) on Friday August 29, 2014 @10:15AM (#47784153) Journal
    I've done this for years, and didn't even know it was a thing. Seems to work.
    • by alphatel (1450715) *

      I've done this for years, and didn't even know it was a thing. Seems to work.

      Glug Glug
      ZZZZzzzzzz
      ...
      Hey who stole my computer?!

    • Tell us more about your strategy.

      Was it drink coffee, set 20 minute alarm, nap, jump to work like in the story?

      Or was it a small variation?

      • by LocutusMIT (10726) on Friday August 29, 2014 @12:14PM (#47785059) Homepage

        Was it drink coffee, set 20 minute alarm, nap, jump to work like in the story?

        I'm not the GP, but I do this on long drives if I start feeling a bit bleary. I'll pull into a rest area, drink a bit of something caffeinated (maybe a couple of good pulls on a bottle of Dr Pepper or Moxie), and put my seat all the way back. No alarm needed, as the caffeine slowly takes effect and wakes me up in about 15 to 20 minutes.

        It leaves me feeling awake and alert again, and I'll repeat the process every couple of hours.

        Note that I broke my caffeine addiction in college when it started giving me miserable headaches, and I rarely consume anything caffeinated today, so a little bit goes a long way for me. If you drink caffeine regularly, you may need more than I do to make this work.

      • by kheldan (1460303)
        I'm an amateur athlete, so it's usually more like 'come home from work, am kind of tired, need to do training, decide to take a short nap, drink or eat something with caffeine in it first, nap for 20-30 minutes, get back up, get up to speed again, get ready, go out and do training, feel much better than if I just pushed through it'. Can do this at work, though, too, especially at lunchtime.
    • I've done this for years, and didn't even know it was a thing. Seems to work.

      Works for me too, especially when bumping into dead ends doing creative work.

      I'm a writer; I can put in a solid day's work on the proofreading and minor editing/revision aspects, but sometimes spend days or weeks trying to find a good point of view for a scene, or effective way to present character development. Best thing when realizing I've just spent half a day writing crap: have a cup of coffee and nap 15 minutes.

    • by jgtg32a (1173373)
      I was able to do this for a while and it was amazing. I would drink coffee and then sleep in a carpool for 20ish minutes, and was ready to go all day.
  • It works surprisingly well.

  • by confused one (671304) on Friday August 29, 2014 @10:30AM (#47784299)
    What we need is a brand of coffee which contains an additive to help flush adenosine. Then we can get more productivity from our slav... *cough* excuse me, umm, happy employees.
    • I suspect that offering a nice, soothing, lumbar puncture to drain that pesky adenosine will be medically unhelpful; but lead to a sharp reduction in the number of employees nodding off while you can see them...
      • Nah, LP's don't hurt that much if you know what you're doing. An added bonus is that you can do them with the patient sitting up.

        Just a little skin prick here and we're done......

        Of course, then there is the post spinal headache, but heck can't have everything.

  • Shape up, science! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Friday August 29, 2014 @10:33AM (#47784319) Journal
    This is supposed to be the future! Why do I need 'sleep' to clear this adenosine from my brain when swarms of nanites in my bloodstream could be doing it instead? So much for progress.
  • If you've got time to nap, you've got time for more work.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    So, this compares one technique that includes both coffee and sleep to using either of them separately. Is it really surprising that it is more efficient doing both? They should have included a forth group, which got to nap for 20 min, then drink coffee, and then after the caffeine kicked in, made to do some task. Maybe the increased sleep quality, combined with the coffee made them the most efficient of them all.

  • by MyLongNickName (822545) on Friday August 29, 2014 @10:57AM (#47784507) Journal

    About ten years ago, I cut out caffeine altogether. The first two weeks off of it was really tough. I slept a lot and when I was awake I didn't feel awake.

    Now, I'm more alert than I was when I was caffeinated and when I hit the pillow at night, 9 times out of 10 I am out within five minutes. I wake up without an alarm clock and have no more than a minute or two of grogginess when I get up.

    I was probably a harder core caffeine user than most, and with my personality, dialing it back wouldn't work -- it is either consume a lot or none at all.

    Overall, it was the best health choice I've made for myself.

    • I quit (albeit accidentally) caffeine over 20 years ago, and I've never thought about the effects like you describe before, until you brought it up.
      Yes, going to sleep quickly is a piece of cake, and instantly awake is the norm for me.
      I'd like think there are health benefits from giving up caffeine as well, but overall I'm just glad to be done with the caffeine-related headaches.

      • by TheCarp (96830)

        Actually I had a bad experience with caffiene withdrawl years ago, high school actually. I had managed quite a habbit of hitting the vending machine for iced tea. Two in the morning before class, two at lunch, then of course there was either wrestling practice or the ride home. After doing this a while, I forgot my wallet at home in a rush one day.....ouch.

        Ever since, I watched for the morning headaches, if I get them, I immediately detox off caffiene for two weeks, never had such a bad reaction since.

        Thoug

    • About ten years ago, I cut out caffeine altogether.

      Yes, I did that too out of necessity about 5 years ago. Not that I was ever actually "addicted" like many people -- I would rarely have coffee more than a few times per week, though I used to brew a LOT of my own tea and iced tea.

      But at some point my body seemed to become hypersensitive to it. Now, if I have a cup of coffee after 2pm, it will likely keep me awake until the middle of the night. So I just had to move to decaf tea and coffee.

      Now, I'm more alert than I was when I was caffeinated

      This is the thing about studies like this. Many of these studie

  • This has been around for a while. Did we really need a new study to say the same thing?
  • Who has time for a nap? lol And by the time I would try this suggestion, there would be a quart of coffee in my system already lol.
  • by LordNimon (85072) on Friday August 29, 2014 @11:43AM (#47784825)

    It takes me 20 minutes to fall asleep normally, even when I haven't had any caffeine. Not only that, but I would need to take my contact lenses out first.

    • by brunes69 (86786)

      I came here to say the same thing. I find it hard to believe most people can just nap on a dime. In fact I can't sleep unless I am actually tired, I can't just "nap" at will.

      • by Keith111 (1862190)

        Yeah... what is this insta-nap thing? I can fall asleep easily at night but during the day there is no way. I don't care how tired I am it just won't happen unless I'm somewhere that is a home-like place and in a receptacle meant for sleeping.

    • Have you talked to your eye doctor about the weekly/monthly lenses? I only have to take mine out once a week, and I throw them away for a fresh pair every month.
  • by Applehu Akbar (2968043) on Friday August 29, 2014 @11:55AM (#47784919)

    Ask about taking coffee naps, or even the more traditional after-lunch kind, and your employer will suspect you of being over forty.

  • I just wish I could take a nap instantly. For some reason, my brain would not shut down and go to sleep on command.
  • But WHERE will the employees nap? You would have to layout cots in a grid in an open floor space so no one tries any hank panky. Not all employers have the luxury of devoting so much space to napping, though.
  • Power naps, caffeine naps, 8 hour versus 10+ hour days, etc have been studied for years and it has been scientifically proven that they improve productivity. But here is the problem: Employers are not interested in increasing productivity. They are interested in the appearance of productivity. And that means, people awake and working, with butts in chairs.
  • I would argue that employers are definitely interested in increased productivity from employees, but they will certainly settle for the appearance of productivity.

    At the risk of going off-topic, a twice-a-day caffeine nap at work is not going to improve productivity nearly as much as a stand-up work station will. Not to mention that staying in a sedentary, sitting position 8+ hours a day is incredibly unhealthy and unnatural. Blast from the past from Mashable: http://mashable.com/2011/05/09... [mashable.com]

  • After work you get home on a caffeine buzz and can't goto sleep. I'm a sleep can't sleep expert. I call BS.
  • coffee+nap+cigarette > coffee + nap.
  • If wanting to be alert and have good sleep patterns, then you would do well to not use caffeine at all. It is not some miracle, it is like any other drug- it builds dependence and nothing is "free"... the energy you might gain is made up for by energy lost later.

    I know this sentiment might not be a popular view (apparently) in the tech crowd, what with coffee, tea, caffeine pills, caffeinated sodas, caffeinated soap and other such nonsense.

  • I am retired now, but when I was working in Asia I often took a twenty- to thirty-minute nap followed by a big jolt of coffee or tea or an energy drink. My favorite place for a kip was in the shade of the building in which I worked (It was on pilings so there was a gap under it.) The newspaper delivery guys for the publishing group that employed me napped on beach loungers in this cool and gloomy underbelly. There were almost always a few free loungers. And I would catch thirty minutes on one and then buy a

  • It doesn't seem the researchers took into account another factor: physical fitness. If they had other test subjects run for twenty minutes before starting their day, that'd make a significant difference in their feelings of alertness in the office. Some people drink coffee ultimately because they're out of shape and don't eat properly. These researchers could've had another control group do light aerobics or the like instead of napping or drinking coffee or both, and compared. (I'm sure there are many studi

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