Who doesn’t love their morning cup of java? But it appears drinking your coffee early in the morning might be the worst way to start your day.
The smell of freshly ground coffee beans on a winter’s morning combined with the ritual of visiting your local barista on the way into the office makes the perfect start to a workday. That first sip gives you the energy and motivation to tackle the day…. or so we thought until research proved otherwise and revealed early morning might be the worse time of all for a cup of java.
Our internal body clock called the circadian rhythm controls many bodily processes including how sleepy we are throughout the day. This clock controls the release of the stress hormone called cortisol, which is responsible for your ‘fight or flight’ response. Cortisol production is strongly related to your level of alertness throughout the day. It just so happens that our cortisol levels peak between 8am and 9am, meaning our body have a natural way of waking us up.
While many of us may think that caffeine would complete cortisol’s action in the body and boost our alertness further, science doesn’t support this. Caffeine is a drug and one of the key principles of pharmacology states that a drug should only be used when it is needed, otherwise a tolerance to that drug can be developed when the same dose is consumed. In other words, consuming caffeine-containing coffee when cortisol levels are at their peak is likely to reduce the effect of caffeine and increases the body’s tolerance to caffeine in the long-term, meaning that over time you will need more caffeine to have the same effect.
So if we shouldn’t drink coffee between 8-9am, when should we? Between the times of 9.30am and 11.30am, and/or 1.30pm and 5pm are best, because cortisol levels also spike between 12noon and 1pm, and between 5.30pm and 6.30pm. However seeing the caffeine in coffee can interfere with sleep, an afternoon coffee won’t be a good option for all of us, making that mid-morning coffee break the best option for most.
What about if you’re an early riser and can’t wait until 9.30am for a coffee? Is it possible to drink coffee straight after waking up? Scientists have found that cortisol levels increase by 50 percent right after you wake up regardless of the time of day. Therefore if you’re an early riser, waiting for an hour before you have a cup of coffee will ensure you get the boost you need for the day ahead.
Photo Credit: Ingimage
About the author
Caitlin Reid is a unique health professional with qualifications as an accredited nutritionist, accredited exercise physiologist and yoga teacher. Caitlin is passionate about all things health and wellness, and keeps up-to-date with the latest health research, which she uses when contributing expert advice to health, fitness, lifestyle and food companies. She is also the nutrition expert for the Women’s Fitness magazine, the dietitian for the South Sydney Rabbitohs and ambassador for Papaya Australia. Follow Caitlin on Instagram @caitlinareid or visit her website.