• Susan Maurer

When it Comes to Coffee, Timing is Everything

Updated: Apr 18, 2020

There is some research that puts its own mark on the idea of timing, research that will make you consider your relationship with coffee.

Cortisol is well known as the “stress” hormone, the hormone that increases when you are in a state of mental or physical stress. It keeps you focused, and manages your blood pressure as well as blood sugar levels. Caffeine does some of the same things cortisol does: it raises alertness, increases your energy level and is also associated with some proven health benefits such as reducing the risk of Type 2 diabetes.

However, when you stack the function of cortisol with the effects of coffee, you may not be getting the full benefit of each. Caffeine may interfere with the amount of cortisol that is secreted. Over time it may also replace the natural energy you would get from just cortisol, which would make you more reliant on coffee to help get you going in the morning.

Cortisol levels start rising as soon as you get out of bed and naturally peak (on average) between 8am – 9am. So, if your first cup of coffee is at 8am or earlier, you may be mitigating some of the energy you would naturally get.

Ideally, that first cup of coffee would be at least one hour after waking up. Think of it as pulsing your natural energy with a caffeine boost a little later on.

Some of you are probably starting to panic right about now. But why not give it a shot? Make a shift in timing and switch your coffee routine to optimize your cortisol surge. You may have longer, better sustained energy because of it.

And considering how many patients come to me and tell me how tired they are, I think it’s worth the experiment.

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