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Are You Getting The Most Out Of Your Morning Coffee?

Many of us believe that the day begins with coffee.

But what if I told you that you’d probably get more bang for your buck from an energy perspective if you waited for two hours after waking to drink your coffee rather than the moment you opened your eyes?

Yep, 2 hours! If we can do this we not only maximise the benefits that caffeine can provide by further improving alertness and cognitive performance throughout the day, but we can also minimise the potential for energy crashes and impaired sleep.

Why’s this the case? Well, it comes down to hormones and biological rhythms.

The circadian rhythm is our internal body clock that regulates various physiological processes in the body, which includes your sleep-wake cycles, hormone production, and metabolism.

Caffeine works by binding to adenosine A1 receptors in the brain and blocking adenosine, a molecule involved in our sleep cycle from being able to bind. This is what promotes alertness and wakefulness.

But adenosine is lowest in the morning and gradually builds up across the day, peaking as we get ready to sleep, so by having caffeine in first thing the morning when adenosine is at its lowest, all we end up doing is blocking adenosine receptors when adenosine levels are likely very low anyway. Then, by late morning when that caffeine starts to wear off and get dislodged from the receptors, a lower level of adenosine is able to create a greater level of sleepiness… which you will experience as a big energy dip or crash.

Additionally, caffeine interferes with the body’s natural cortisol cycle, which can disrupt cortisol’s ability to regulate energy levels throughout the day. Again, leading to a crash in energy levels later on in the day when cortisol levels are naturally decline.

Whereas by waiting two hours after waking up before consuming caffeine, you allow your body’s natural rhythms to take effect, meaning the caffeine will kick in as your cortisol levels begin to decline and adenosine levels start building up, just when you could use it the most.

This helps ensure that you get an optimal boost of energy from your cup of coffee without disrupting your body’s natural rhythms.

And in terms of working with your sleep and wake cycles as opposed to against it, we also need to make sure we don’t consume caffeine too late in the day to avoid it blocking adenosine receptors, causing adenosine levels to build up in our system to close to bedtime, which impairs our ability for optimal sleep. The best practice here is to avoid having any caffeine post 2 pm, as caffeine has a half-life of approximately 6 hours, meaning that your 3 pm coffee is likely still in your system by 9 pm.


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