If you love the aroma of freshly brewed coffee and can’t wait to have that first cup to jumpstart your day, you are not alone. Statistics from the International Coffee Organization (ICO) show that 1.4 billion cups of coffee are consumed worldwide every day. The Scandinavian countries lead the pack per capita in worldwide coffee consumption. The U.S. is #22 on the list, pouring 400 million cups a day.
While coffee has become more than just a pick-me-up, it is still the main caffeine delivery method of choice in the U.S. If you want to maximize the jolt you get from your morning cup and prevent developing a tolerance to the caffeine, you need to know something about the human body’s internal clock, known as circadian rhythms.
You may remember from Biology 101 that your body produces cortisol – the “fight or flight” hormone that goes into action during stressful situations. Cortisol is regulated by a part of the brain called the hypothalamus. Under normal circumstances, cortisol levels fluctuate during the day and night, allowing us to rise all-bright-eyed and bushy-tailed in the morning and become tired enough to fall asleep at night.
According to current chronopharmacological research (the study of the interaction between biological rhythms and drugs), the best times to drink coffee are in between the body’s natural cortisol spikes. In someone who has normal sleep patterns and gets up at 7 a.m., the natural morning cortisol production peaks somewhere between 8 and 9 a.m. If you drink your $5.00 cup of Starbucks brew when you already have cortisol coursing through your veins, it is a waste because you have already reached maximum cortisol stimulation. Additionally, you could get a bad case of the jitters (especially on an empty stomach) and the caffeine will interfere with your body's cortisol production, eventually lessening the jolt you experience and rendering you immune to it.
Drinking your morning cup of coffee sometime between 9:30 and 11:30 will produce the most effective results, and your afternoon cup should be imbibed between 1:30 and 3:30. All studies say that it is ill-advised to drink any coffee in the evening (even decaf, which still contains some level of caffeine) because it will disrupt your natural circadian rhythm and give you a lousy night’s sleep.
If you are one of the more than 40% of Americans who suffer from sleep disturbances and do not get adequate rest, you have probably come to depend on your morning cup of coffee in order to function. This is because your circadian rhythms are no longer calibrated properly. If this is the case, you will need to reset your internal clock by fixing your sleep schedule. This is a subject we will address in a future newsletter.
Copyright Sharon Gnatt Epel for La Ishá High-Performance Natural Skin Care 8-2018