Early morning or late afternoon, what is the best time to have coffee?
Early morning or late afternoon, what is the best time to have coffee?Who doesn’t like a cup of steaming coffee to kick start their day? Most of us have programed ourselves to reach for a cup of coffee first thing in the morning. It’s our trusted beverage which will ensure we get out of bed and get to work every single day. Coffee can make us feel alert and productive even on the gloomiest of days and that’s exactly why we’ve made it our best friend.
Now, to shatter your blissful idea of coffee drinking – according to a study, there are specific times where you should be consuming coffee to get maximum benefits. The best time? Certainly not first thing in the morning.
The science behind the best time for coffee
The study was conducted by Steven Miller, a Ph.D. candidate at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda. In his study, he talks about the reason behind having coffee at specific times. It all starts with the 24-hour hormonal cycle referred to as the circadian clock or in other words internal body clock or your sleep/wake cycle. Its basic function is running the background of your brain and cycles between sleepiness and alertness at regular intervals.
The clock also controls the production of the hormone called cortisol which makes us feel alert and awake. The production of this stress-related hormone increases with consumption of caffeine. Now here’s the tricky part, the production of cortisol is at its highest when we wake up – from 8 to 9am. According to Miller, drinking coffee at the time when your cortisol production is at its peak will ultimately lead your body to create a tolerance to it. Basically, your cup of morning coffee would become less effective and would not do much to make you feel ‘more awake’ as your body is already approaching its peak in terms of alertness. So, you probably shouldn’t be consuming caffeine at a time when your cortisol concentration in the blood is at its peak.
Best time to consume coffee
A Seattle-based Japanese coffee lover, Ryoko Iwata, created one of her posts based on the research gathered by Steven Miller. On her blog, I Love Coffee, She explained the theory with the help of visuals and smart graphics.
According to the chart created by her, the best time to drink coffee is when your cortisol levels naturally dip, or in other words ‘the coffee break’ time.
Your cortisol levels are at their peak: 8-9am, 12-1pm,5:30-6:30pm.
The appropriate/coffee break time: 9:30-11:30 and 1:30-5pm.
Even though every human body and every circadian clock is different, the best time to consume coffee is in the time periods mentioned above, where the level of cortisol dips in a majority of people. Drinking coffee at times of peak cortisol can increase your tolerance for caffeine which in turn can lead to heightened cortisol levels, disturbing the circadian rhythms.
So what about people who are early risers and start their day at about 5am? Miller suggests to wait for at least an hour after waking up before you reach out to your nearest cup of coffee.
What to do
This theory has certainly created quite a stir in the minds of coffee addicts/lovers. On one hand there are researchers who claim that caffeine is beneficial any time of the day and on the other Miller claims that there are specific times of its effectiveness. Most of the things make sense including the traditional idea of a coffee break or the fact that maybe having coffee first thing in the morning was a habit that got instilled in our daily routine over the years. So, do what you find best. If you would like to stick to your old routine, fair enough. If you would like to change your coffee routine to see a difference, that’s good too. While you contemplate that, I’m going to grab my cup of coffee and think about it some more.