Is there a best time to drink coffee? Plan your cups to optimize exercise, sleep, and alertness
If you’re like me, your day wouldn’t be complete without a freshly brewed cup of coffee — but if you’re like the majority of Americans, you probably don’t stop at breakfast. According to the National Coffee Association, approximately two-thirds of Americans consume coffee on a daily basis, with the average drinker consuming three cups of bean juice. While the majority of people drink theirs in the morning, who hasn’t experienced that 4 p.m. slump when you feel an almost guilty need to reach for the K-cup to get through your final hours of work?
It’s time to spill the beans — grabbing a cup of coffee first thing in the morning is not always the best way to start the day with a caffeine buzz and energy.
However, as with all good things, science has an answer to one of life’s most perplexing questions: When is the best time to drink coffee? The short answer is that it depends on your day’s plans.
Our guide to the best times to drink coffee is as follows:
Mid-morning or early afternoon is the optimal time to drink coffee for alertness. Avoid coffee in the morning, according to a CNBC interview with registered dietician Laura Cipullo.
“Drink coffee when your body produces less cortisol, approximately three to four hours after waking,” Cipullo advises CNBC.
The reason for waiting is to allow your body’s cortisol levels to decrease after waking — cortisol is dubbed the “stress hormone,” but it is necessary for us to feel alert.
When you first awaken, your body is inundated with cortisol, rapidly transitioning you from a sleep to an alert state. Even if you are not stressed, your cortisol levels will remain elevated for an additional 30 to 45 minutes after awakening. Caffeine also increases cortisol levels, which is why you may experience a burst of alertness following a cup of coffee. When you awaken, roll out of bed, and pour a cup of coffee, you prolong the state of arousal — which can cause stress.
After ten minutes, one cup of coffee kicks your buttocks into gear. However, if you want to perform at your best, keep in mind that it can take up to an hour for caffeine to be absorbed into your bloodstream — so plan ahead if you have a big test or meeting.