Posted on December 04, 2014
Everyone knows that a cup of coffee is great to have in the morning. It gives you a jolt of caffeine that gets you ready for the day, yet the soothing smell and smooth flavor of good coffee is somehow relaxing even as it's waking you up. People all over the world swear by their morning cup of coffee, but now scientists are saying that the best time to drink coffee isn't as soon as you wake up, but a few hours later.
Caffeine and Cortisol
The reason why it's best not to have a cup of coffee first thing in the morning is because of a chemical called cortisol. Cortisol is produced naturally throughout the body, designed to help you feel more awake as you go about your day. Your cortisol levels are regulated by your body's circadian rhythm, a 24-hour hormonal cycle that is programmed into our genetics. It can be affected by one's lifestyle choices, but for most people it's regulated by sunlight, which is why we're naturally inclined to wake up in the morning.
In other words, your body already has something that does your coffee's job. In fact, drinking coffee when you first wake up may actually raise your tolerance for caffeine. This means you will have to drink more coffee to get the same buzz you once got from it. This leads to caffeine addiction, a relatively minor problem that can nevertheless lead to withdrawal symptoms if you find yourself going longer than a day without coffee.
The Best Time to Drink Coffee
Most people's cortisol levels are at their highest between 8:00 and 9:00 in the morning, so you probably won't feel the full effect of caffeine this early. If you really want to get the most out of a cup of coffee, wait until about 9:30. Your cortisol levels will have dropped by this time, and since caffeine actually raises cortisol levels, you will better feel its effects.
Once you've had your cup of coffee between 9:30 and 11:30 in the morning, your cortisol levels should remain at a steady level until about 1:30 in the afternoon. For most people, this is just in time to take a break from their work and enjoy another cup of coffee. This afternoon coffee break should be enough to keep you going until the sun goes down and it's time for bed.
There's of course nothing wrong with drinking a cup of coffee in the morning. Millions of people around the world still swear by the jolt of energy it gives them and by the smooth flavor of really good coffee. However, there's a good chance that you're drinking it wrong. Instead of having a cup after rolling out of bed, wait a little while if you really want to get the most out of your morning coffee.
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