Early Morning Coffee? No, Thanks!

7 AM, the alarm goes off, and before you start a new day, a nice hot morning coffee is your best friend.

early morning coffee sad smileyIsn't that true?

For many, yes. But it looks like it's not such a good habit. BOOM!

Some recent studies on the effects of caffeine and its relationship with the natural production of cortisol have shown that

Drinking morning coffee as soon as you wake up not only doesn't gives us the desired energy, but can even block the effects of cortisol, the hormone that keeps us awake

There is no doubt that coffee is a morning ritual, difficult to abandon, but, once again, science debunks a myth.

Let's try to understand why.

Cortisol is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands in response to the adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH, produced and secreted by the anterior pituitary gland).

It is also called "stress hormone" because its production increases when we are in more intense physical and psychological condition, like a very intense workout, surgery, for example.

No Morning Coffee? Then When Should I drink It?

During a "regular" day, the adrenal glands secrete the hormone at different times and quantities, where the highest levels generally occur between 6 am and 10 am.

There are two times when the production of cortisol decreases: between 10 am and 12 pm, and between 2 pm and 5 pm.

In conclusion we can say that:Morning coffee

  • You should avoid drinking morning coffee. Instead of having coffee as soon as you wake up, try to wait at least one hour before allowing yourself the pleasure of the first coffee.
  • The best time to drink coffee is after lunch, which corresponds to the time when the production of cortisol decreases.

For me, morning coffee is not really a way to feel more energetic or focused, it's just pure routine.

So, I don't really drink it as soon as I wake up, because I don't care for it at that time. I never had coffee for breakfast.

I usually have my first (and only) morning coffee when I am at work, around 10 am.

I guess it works out for me, because I was doing this even before I learned that drinking coffee too early in the morning is not recommended because it lowers cortisol.

Early Morning Coffee and Cortisol

Maybe it's the case to explain a little more what cortisol does to our body.

We said that cortisol is also known as stress hormone.

It increases when we are stressed or scared. But it is also a key component of our internal clock.

In fact, it helps us to stay awake, and it relaxes us at night.

So, according to a video created by the YouTube channel Asap Science, morning is actually the worst time to drink coffee, because cortisol levels are higher.

There are two reasons why morning coffee and cortisol don't go along together:

  • Caffeine tends to interfere with the production of cortisol.
  • Drinking coffee while cortisol levels are higher increases the risk of building tolerance (that's why high coffee consumers say that they need more, while other don't feel the need of more than one cup of coffee a day).

Caffeine acts as a substitute of cortisol, rather than integrating our natural production.

It's the same as testosterone replacement therapy. The more you provide from external sources, the more our body becomes tolerant and decreases its natural production.

Best Times to Drink Coffee

In conclusion, there are two times in a day that it is ok to drink coffee without any interference with our natural production of cortisol:

  • Between 10 am and 12 pm
  • Between 2 pm and 5 pm

During those times, coffee can actually help us being more concentrated and doesn't have side effects.

Though, if I have coffee in the afternoon I notice that it becomes harder to fall asleep.

But that's also the proof of what I am saying because it does what it is supposed to do: keep me awake!


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1 Response

  1. Obnoxious Cadaver
    Yes, early morning coffee is a bit of a waste but for different reasons to those described here. This guy provides a neat summary: http://neurosciencedc.blogspot.com.au/2013/10/the-best-time-for-your-coffee.html. Cheers