Does drinking coffee ever leave you feeling like it didn’t work?
If so, you’re not the first person who felt that way.
Most coffee drinkers don’t know about the optimum time to consume caffeine.
Most people drink coffee right after waking up, we are here to tell you that that isn’t optimal.
But don’t worry, we got you.
We’ve researched and tried different things and found out when we’re most likely to get the best results from drinking coffee.
So here we go! Let’s dive right in.
The role of Chronopharmacology
Everyone is unique. But there are some things everyone has in common.
One of these things is a biological clock also known as a Circadian Rhythm – our 24-hour hormone cycle which governs a number of bodily functions.
It’s mainly genetically determined but is also affected by external and internal environmental factors, which are called zeitgebers. These can be light, temperature, drugs, and a host of other things.
Here’s a visual representation of our circadian clock, according to the Wikipedia website.
Chronopharmacology describes the interplay between biological rhythms and drug actions. For example, chronopharmacology explains why certain drugs may be more effective at specific times of the day.
Keep this in mind as we‘ll be looking at the interaction between Caffeine and Cortisol later.
Some things to know about Cortisol
Cortisol is known as the “stress” or “fight-or-flight” hormone. Acute increases promote alertness and vigilance, whereas chronic overproduction leads to high blood pressure, insulin resistance, and obesity among other things.
Cortisol levels are regulated by the suprachiasmatic nucleus situated in the hypothalamus which is also known as “the master” of the Circadian Rhythm because it controls the release of hormones responsible for regulating the secretion of various other hormones such as insulin, thyroid hormone, etc while also regulating the sleep/wake cycle.
The suprachiasmatic nucleus is strongly controlled by the previously mentioned zeitgebers.
Two important points about Cortisol
- Cortisol levels peak at different times during the day depending on when you wake up. The most common peaks are during 8:00–9:00 am, 12:00–1:00 pm, and 5:30–6:30 pm.
- Upon waking up, there’s an approximately 50% elevation in your body’s production of the stress hormone Cortisol. This is known as the Cortisol Awakening Response.
The cortisol increase at the beginning of the day serves a purpose. It wakes you up naturally.
The relationship between cortisol and caffeine
When cortisol levels are naturally high (i.e., when you wake up), drinking coffee isn’t a good idea.
You may think that the cortisol spike and extra coffee boost each other resulting in increased alertness and wakefulness. However, this isn’t true.
In reality, what happens is the exact opposite.
So why does that happen?
There are 2 reasons for this:
It has been found that caffeine interferes with the production of the stress hormone, Cortisol.
Over time, the body then begins producing less of the hormones and starts relying more on caffeine.
Furthermore, consuming coffee during peak times of high Cortisol reduces the effectiveness of the caffeine.
Drinking too much caffeine when your body’s cortisol levels are high may lead to developing long-term tolerance for caffeine.
Caffeine is an addictive substance and a principle of chronopharmacology is that drugs should only be taken when they’re needed or else, tolerance sets in.
Most people who claim to be tolerant of caffeine actually mean that they’ve developed a habit of drinking coffee instead of relying on their bodies natural production of Cortisol.
This is the best time to drink your cup of coffee
So, the best times to drink your coffee are during the hours when your body’s cortisol levels are at their lowest. This is usually between 9:30 – 11:30 am and 1:30 – 5:00 pm.
It’s not recommended to drink coffee 6–8 hours prior to going to bed, because it may disturb your sleeping patterns.
The key point to take away from this experience
First thing in the morning, allow yourself to wake up naturally. Then go ahead and have your coffee.
Use caffeine to optimize your performance but don’t use it as compensation.
For people who get up very early, like between 4:30 am and 6:00 am for example, you should give yourself about an hour before you drink coffee.
Because regardless of when you woke up, your internal clock will still initiate and you will get a peak of cortisol.