If you are an early riser, you have reason to congratulate yourself.
Waking up in the early hours of the morning gives you dozens of vital health benefits. It helps you go to bed early and be more in tune with the earth’s circadian rhythms. It also helps you find that elusive extra hour in your day, which you can use to exercise, get work done, or just spend time with yourself. Rising early also aids good digestion by regulating your appetite and helping you eat your meals on time.
But there is one habit that can blunt all this joy. And that habit, surprisingly, is drinking coffee early in the morning.
The reason: according to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, our body’s production of the energy-boosting hormone cortisol is at its peak around 8:30 a.m. Loading your system with a dose of caffeine at this time produces more cortisol, potentially causing anxiousness.
Steven Miller, author of the blog Neuroscience DC, suggests that if we drink coffee during our peak cortisol times, we are more likely to develop tolerance to its effects. He writes: “…you are drinking caffeine at a time when you are already approaching your maximal level of alertness naturally. One of the key principles of pharmacology is use a drug when it is needed… Otherwise, we can develop tolerance to a drug administered at the same dose. In other words, the same cup of morning coffee will become less effective.”
But as the morning progresses, between 9:30 and 11:30 a.m., your cortisol levels begin to dip. That is when a cup of coffee will be most effective, suggests Miller.
So if you want to optimize your coffee drinking, don’t drink it right when you wake up. Begin your morning with a few minutes of gentle stretching and deep breathing. If you crave something warm and refreshing, try a glass of warm water with honey and lemon juice.
Soon, it will be time for coffee.