A coffee aficionado would say anytime is a good time for a cup of coffee, but this isn’t probably the answer you’re looking for. Many drink their favorite brew first thing in the morning, before a proper breakfast, but is this safe? Let’s see what experts have to say about it.
If you’re one of those people who, as soon as they’re able to drag themselves out of bed, stumble into the kitchen and get the coffee going with their eyes still half-closed, then you should reconsider your morning routine.
Old habits are hard to break, but experts say you should wait at least one hour before you have your morning coffee.
Caffeine increases the production of cortisol, aka the hormone stress, which helps us really wake up. The problem is cortisol levels are already at their highest as soon as we get out of bed. The body knows you need that energy boost to start functioning in the morning and delivers a high dose of cortisol.
If, on top of that natural hormone boost, you stimulate the body with caffeine to produce more cortisol, it might be too much. The excess cortisol can lead to stress and anxiety.
Things get even more complicated in a couple of hours when the stimulating effect of caffeine wears off, cortisol levels drop and you’re left feeling tired although it is barely mid-day. Having another cup of coffee is the obvious solution, I know, but doctors say there’s another way.
The current medical advice is to wait at least an hour after you wake up before sitting down with a nice cup of coffee in front of you.
That way you allow the body to make the most of the cortisol it naturally produces in the morning and when hormone levels start dropping you stimulate it with a bit of caffeine to produce more. By doing this you avoid overstimulation and the stress it induces, and have a constant energy level throughout the morning.
You will see many articles suggesting an exact time, like 9.30 am, as being the optimal moment to have coffee, but you need to keep in mind that this refers to people who wake up around 8 am. If you usually get out of bed at 7 am, you can totally have your coffee one hour after that.
Likewise, if you’re a night owl and stay in bed until 10.30, nobody is suggesting you should wake up earlier just to have coffee!
The first effects of a cup of coffee become noticeable within ten minutes of the first sip and caffeine levels in the organism are at their peak after 45 minutes. Studies have shown that caffeine levels halve roughly every six hours, which is not a problem, however. This is what we have afternoon coffee for!
And speaking of afternoon coffee or the early evening one, people who have trouble sleeping should have their last coffee of the day at least six hours before going to bed, to allow the body to get rid of caffeine.
The idea that coffee is bad on an empty stomach is a myth. The idea is that the acid in the coffee might damage your stomach lining, causing heartburn and indigestion. Studies say that this only applies to people who have a sensitive stomach in the first place and they would experience the same issues even if they did have a proper meal before.
People who do not have this sort of problem should not worry, drinking coffee on an empty stomach is fine.
If coffee is the only reason you get out of bed in the morning, you should at least try waiting for an hour before drinking that first cup. By doing this, you avoid cortisol overload and you will feel more energized for the next few hours. If you cannot wait, don’t worry, your body is probably used to that extra caffeine in the morning and has learned to adapt.
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