Being an independent musician, you are probably working a full time job, juggling a life at home, band practice, gigging in your free time and running on empty. So when you have those jam packed days and a show at night is it better to pump yourself up full of coffee or to simply take a nap. Let’s look into the pros and cons of both!
The caffeine group reported feeling more alert right before their tests than either the nap or placebo groups. However, when it came to performance, alertness didn’t necessarily equate to better scores. Lo and behold, the nappers outperformed their caffeine counterparts on both the verbal memory task and the motor learning task.
The motor learning task results were particularly interesting, in that while the folks who took naps or a placebo pill demonstrated significant improvement and turned in markedly higher scores from the morning session to the afternoon session, the caffeine group didn’t show improvement from morning to afternoon. Their learning seemed to be impaired. It’s as if they started right back where they left off, whereas the nappers and placebo group experienced greater consolidation of their motor memory, seemingly picking back up at a higher level than where they had ended the morning session.
Coffee may make you alert for the moment, but when it comes to truly functioning better, taking a nap will win every time. Think of drinking coffee as a band aide. It only covers the problem.
We understand that it is tough to get in enough time to sleep. Even if you aren’t a musician, a regular work day requires getting up early, working about 9 hours, commuting, taking care of the house, dinner, showering and probably not even hitting the couch for the first time until about 8:30pm. We work long days and that’s awesome. Coffee may be fine at work, but remember, if you want to wake yourself for something better, take a nap!