Starting your day with a steaming mug of coffee may be one of life’s simple pleasures for some people, but Dr. Steven L. Miller, a neuroscientist postdoctoral research fellow at the Geisel School of Medicine in Dartmouth, said, that drinking your coffee early in the morning may not be the best time to sip your Cup O’ Joe.
Chronopharmacology, the study of interaction of biological rhythms, shows that circadian clock alters our physiology and behavior as well as the way our body breaks down substances like caffeine. Cortisol, the hormone that helps regulate metabolism, immune response and stress, works with daylight levels to regulate this cycle, affecting the levels of concentration and alertness we achieve.
Thanks to this natural cycle, between 8:00-9:00 a.m. most people are already at their peak level of concentration in their 24-hour rhythm. So, drinking a stimulant is essentially redundant. Miller says the key to caffeine is to use it when it is needed, and that drinking coffee during your natural cortisol peak can cause you to develop a tolerance to caffeine. “In other words, the same cup of morning coffee will become less effective,” Miller said.
The best time to drink a cup of coffee, according to Miller, is when cortisol levels are dropping and before the next spike, and that those peaks come between 8:00-9:00 am, Noon-1:00 p.m. and 5:30-6:30 p.m.
“In the morning then, your coffee will probably be the most effective if you enjoy it between 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.” suggests Dr. Miller.
Delaying that morning manna and strategically timing your coffee breaks may help keep you on your A-Game throughout your day.