Given my fondness for caffeine, I love when I can find a new study that shows that it isn’t good for you.
Scientists in the Laboratory of Sleep and Behavioral Neuroscience at the University of California conducted a test on 61 people who went through a series of physical and mental exercises to set a baseline first thing in the morning.
That afternoon, they split the subjects into 3 groups before running them through all of the tests again.
The first group took a 2 hour nap, and had better motor skills and improved perception during the tests than either of the other two groups. They scored better than both groups by a very large margin in the verbal tests.
The second group took a placebo. They didn’t do as well as those that had taken a nap, but still did marginally better than those who took a caffeine pill.
The last group took a 200mg caffeine pill, and they reported feeling the most alert and awake.
It seems to me that like most drugs, caffeine dims your mental and physical capabilities while making you feel smarter and faster than you really are. That seems dangerous enough to me to reinforce my elimination of caffeine from my diet (as if the increased chance of going blind and having horrible headaches weren’t enough.)
I would be interested in seeing further studies, though. I’d like to know how effective a shorter nap can be, and I’d also like to see how more physically demanding activities are affected. I know that in general when I take a mid-day nap at work, I’m usually limited to about 20-25 minutes or else I won’t have time to eat, and I am always interested how different activities will affect my training.
This is a case where anecdotal evidence isn’t really all that worthwhile.