Monday was a particularly dreary day complete with the need for some coffee. So I fired up the Keurig and warmed myself up in a mug of caramel vanilla goodness. But then I remembered it was free coffee Monday at Dunkin so I hopped on the Blue Loop and indulged in an iced coffee. That night my body wasn’t thanking me for my caffeine overload. So I questioned it – what is the best time to drink coffee?
It turns out that the most popular time – the morning – is actually the worst time to get the caffeine boost. Our bodies have high levels of cortisol in the morning, which causes two problems.
1.) Cortisol is a hormone that is released “in response to stress and low blood glucose.” The caffeine interferes with that and less cortisol is produced, meaning the caffeine must make up for the lack of cortisol.
2.) A person’s caffeine tolerance is increased as it is replacing that cortisol boost.
These levels are high at three different times during the day. And while it makes sense to gulp down that cup of Joe when you wake up to make you more awake, the opposite occurs when those cortisol levels are high.
When you drink coffee or other caffeinated beverages, it passes through body membranes in the bloodstream via the lining of your mouth, throat, and stomach. Within 45 minutes 99% of the caffeine is absorbed through the membranes. The half-life for caffeine is 4-6 hours, meaning the effects from the coffee lasts 4-6 hours.
In relation to the cortisol levels, the best time to drink coffee is between 10am and 12pm and 2pm and 5pm. When it comes to making sure the caffeine leaves the body in enough time to give you a good night’s sleep, use the 4-6 hour rule as reference.