If you’re anything like the overwhelming majority of coffee drinkers, then your morning doesn’t really get started until you’ve had that first cup of coffee. Coffee is such an important part of most people’s waking ritual that it deserves to be named the Official Drink of Morning.
But what most people don’t know is that drinking coffee first thing in the morning is actually less than ideal, especially if you’re looking to cash in on coffee’s caffeine content and its ability to invigorate and awaken. Read on for a quick primer on why and how to schedule your coffee drinking to make the most of coffee time.
Crazy Little Thing Called Cortisol
Your body has a rhythm. Even if you are rhythmically challenged to the point that you can’t tap your toe to the beat of a Sousa march, your body still has an innate rhythm. The processes that happen within you, every day, happen according to this rhythm, known as circadian rhythm. This rhythm is attached to the cycle of the day and the amount of sunlight at different times of day, and is one of the factors that governs your cortisol production and levels.
Cortisol is a naturally occurring hormone that does a great many things in your body. It’s also closely tied to your general level of alertness. The higher your cortisol level, the more alert you will be.
Your cortisol level naturally spikes between eight and nine in the morning, and between one and five in the afternoon, depending on your diet, stress level, and several other factors. So – “Great,” you might be thinking. “If I time my coffee intake to coincide with my natural cortisol spike, then I should get a double pick-me-up.”
Actually, the opposite is true. Research has shown that high cortisol levels diminish caffeine’s effects. According to scientists, you’re better off consuming coffee when your cortisol levels are slacking off in the late morning and early evening.
Coffee and Sleep
Drowsiness, alertness, and quality of sleep are all affected by caffeine in human beings. You’ve most likely had an experience where you drank coffee a little too late in the afternoon or evening, and then suffered a bad night’s sleep as a result.
Caffeine intake in the extreme can disrupt your general sleep cycle and lead to sleepless nights and drowsy days. The key is knowing when and how much caffeine your body can deal with.
Coffee is good for you in moderation, and listening to your body should give you a clear understanding of when and how much you can get away with.
Planning Your Coffee Time a Better Way
It’s hard to think of coffee as anything other than a constant companion and faithful friend. Making sure to time your intake correctly will go along way toward making coffee time good for your sleep cycle, your work cycle, and your life cycle.