The question of coffee is always a ‘when’ as opposed to an ‘if’. But when is the best time to give into our cocoa lover?
No one gets more bored than us at seeing celebrities say the first thing they do when they wake up is drink a glass of warm water and lemon juice. How do they even exist past 8am? Most of us drag our bodies out of bed and go straight to the coffee, consuming one or two cups before becoming a functioning adult ready to take on the real world.
But as it turns out, science backs the celebs, not me. Researchers believe the best time to consume the first cup of coffee is around 2-3 hours after waking up. The reasons are simple: when we wake up our bodies are full of the stress hormone cortisol; after 2-3 hours of being awake the cortisol dissipates, so instead of fuelling it with coffee first thing in the morning and adding jitters on top of the stress hormones, the consumption of coffee later on in the day increases the likelihood of our bodies metabolising the coffee in a better way. For some, coffee can become an addition that results in dependency, and trying to limit or cut out coffee entirely can lead to withdrawal symptoms. We also know that while a cup of coffee may make you feel more alert, it is usually messages to your pituitary gland which result in your adrenals pumping cortisol – and an adrenaline rush could be more damaging than just giving you an energy boost. Adding to the morning desperation for coffee is insomnia which can also accompany excessive and poorly-timed coffee consumption.
However, we know how many benefits also accompany coffee, with evidence showing that coffee can improve various aspects of brain function such as memory, reactive responses and general mental alertness.
So when and how often should we be consuming coffee? The research agrees that you are better off having your coffee 2-3 hours after waking up, when your cortisol levels are lower and the coffee can impact your energy levels in smarter ways. The best window of the day to have 3-4 cups of coffee, max, is between 9.30am-11.30am. Anything outside of these hours, and especially in the afternoon, could result in insomnia and additional stress.
So maybe we should be accepting that those wellness Instagrammers are onto something, and try hot water and lemon before we consume the thing we love most, coffee.