If you're like 85% of the population, the morning doesn't fully start until you've had your daily cup of coffee and the handy caffeine boost that comes along with it. Whether your coffee maker automatically starts brewing when you wake up or you promptly arrive at Starbucks before making it into the office, you've likely had some questions about the health benefits of coffee and how to best incorporate the beverage into your healthy lifestyle.
According to Travel+Leisure, experts agree that the best time of day to have your first cup of coffee is a few hours after waking, at around 10 a.m. (assuming most people wake up between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m.). That's because when you first wake up, your body is naturally filled with cortisol, a stress hormone that creates energy after a night's rest. Drinking coffee can further heighten cortisol in the body.
Although most pour their first cup of coffee around 8:30 a.m., Sarah Brewer, MD, tells Metro U.K. a majority of coffee lovers are drinking their first cup too early. "Your blood cortisol levels are highest between half an hour and two hours after waking and when your cortisol is peaking, it’s the worst time to drink coffee because caffeine mimics the stress response and causes your cortisol levels to rise even further," Brewer explains. By drinking your coffee later in the morning after your cortisol levels have lowered, you'll skip the jitters and feelings of anxiety that can come from caffeine.
Laura Cipullo, registered dietitian agrees, telling CNBC that people should limit their coffee intake when they first wake up due to the high levels of cortisol produced in the body at that time. She suggests having your first cup about three to four hours after waking. Additionally, certified dietitian-nutrition Lisa Lisiewski recommends enjoying a fresh brew in the mid-morning or early afternoon when your natural cortisol levels are at their lowest and you can benefit from the stimulant the coffee itself provides.
While it may take some adjusting, it might be time to reconsider when you sip on your morning cup of coffee. Aim for avoiding coffee until a few hours after you wake up, but be sure not to pour a cup too late in the afternoon, as having caffeine after 3 p.m. can take a toll on your sleep.