Morning Coffee: Are You Drinking it too Soon after Waking?

Morning Coffee: Are You Drinking it too Soon after Waking?

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Morning Coffee: Are You Drinking it too Soon after Waking? – Thomas DeLauer

Humans are guided by the 24-hour hormonal cycle referred to as the circadian clock, which is preprogrammed into us genetically and although we can mess with our cycles through lifestyle habits, the major factor in its regulation is sunlight

One of the things that this clock controls in humans is the release of cortisol which makes us feel alert and awake

The peak production of cortisol occurs between 8–9 am (under normal circumstances) – this means that at the time that many people are having their first cup of coffee, their bodies are actually “naturally caffeinating” the most effectively

The times of peak cortisol levels in most people are between 8-9 am, 12-1 pm and 5:30-6:30 pm

Therefore, timing your coffee breaks between 9:30-11:30 and 1:30 and 5:00 takes advantage of the dips in your cortisol levels when you need a boost the most

Chronopharmacology can be defined as the study of the interaction of biological rhythms and drug action

One of the most important biological rhythms is, as mentioned, your circadian clock – this endogenous 24 hour clock alters your physiology and behavior in variety of ways but it can also alter many properties of drugs including drug safety (pharmacovigilance), pharmacokinetics, drug efficacy, and possibly drug tolerance

Fun fact: In studies, by creating an “island” in the brain by methodically cutting the hypothalamus away from any surrounding tissue, the circadian clock was completely lost

So drinking your morning coffee at 8am isn’t really the best time due to the circadian rhythm of cortisol production at that time

Drug tolerance is an important subject, especially in the case of caffeine since most of us overuse this drug

Therefore, if we are drinking caffeine at a time when your cortisol concentration in the blood is at its peak, you probably should not be drinking it

In the morning then, your coffee will probably be the most effective if you enjoy it between 9:30 and 11:30am, when your cortisol levels are dropping before the next spike

Published in The Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, researchers analyzed how caffeine disrupts sleep when consumed at different points in time during the day

The volunteers included 12 healthy men and women who were normal sleepers and regularly consumed moderate amounts of caffeine

During the study, they maintained their normal sleep routines with bedtimes from 9 pm to 1 am, and wake times of 6 am to 9 am – they slept somewhere between 6.5 to 9 hours each night without napping during the daytime

Participants were given a fixed dose of caffeine, along with placebos, at 0, 3, and 6 hours before bedtime – 400 mg of caffeine was administered, which is equivalent to around four cups of coffee

Researchers monitored signs of sleep disturbance using a sleeping monitor and found:

At 0, 3, and 6 hours before bedtime, caffeine had a significant effect on sleep disturbance – even caffeine consumed 6 hours before bed affected sleep amounts by over an hour

Sleep quality was diminished when caffeine was consumed at all three points during the day. Compared to the placebo, there was a significant amount of time spent awake during the night, including when caffeine was consumed 6 hours before.

However, the perception of caffeine’s effect on the body was not a direct measure of how it affected sleep

When caffeine was consumed 6 hours before bed, they did not report any effect to their sleep quality – the sleep monitor showed a different story, though

Concluded that we shouldn’t fully rely on our own perceptions to judge how caffeine is really affecting us, especially when it comes to sleep

1) Caffeine Stimulation of Cortisol Secretion Across the Waking Hours in Relation to Caffeine Intake Levels. (n.d.). Retrieved from

2) Drake C , et al. (n.d.). Caffeine effects on sleep taken 0, 3, or 6 hours before going to bed. – PubMed – NCBI. Retrieved from

3) Chu, M. (2017, August 14). The Latest Time You Should Drink Coffee, According to Science. Retrieved from

4) Anthony Wing Kosner. (2014, January 6). Why The Best Time To Drink Coffee Is Not First Thing In The Morning. Retrieved from

5) The best time for your coffee. (n.d.). Retrieved from


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