Psst: You’re Drinking Your Coffee at the Wrong Time

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A Cup of Coffee

The alarm clock goes off, after a nice stretch you head straight towards the kitchen for your morning cup of glory: coffee.  

stephen colbert drinking coffee

The problem is: your timing is all wrong.

Taking your coffee first thing in the morning is counterproductive, why?  

So what’s going on?

  It all has to do with Cortisol.

Cortisol, “the stress hormone”, is a key component for our day-long hormonal cycle known as the Circadian Clock. This internal clock helps us wake up in the morning and get sleepy in the night time.

When the body releases cortisol, we feel awake.  However, caffeine interferes with the production of cortisol in the body by decreasing production over time.  In turn, making the body more reliant on caffeine.

Drinking coffee while cortisol levels are high leads to the development of long-term tolerance, which is why habitual drinkers find caffeine less effective.  

Essentially, caffeine replaces our natural cortisol boost rather than supplement it.

Cortisol levels rise 3X a day: early in the morning, mid-day, and in the evening.  The highest peak time is between 6AM to 10AM but this may vary depending on your wake up time.  For optimal effect, it is best to drink between these peak hours.

coffee time chart

Ideally, the best times to drink coffee: 10AM to 12PM and 2PM to 5PM. During these times is when coffee is most needed and will not interfere with cortisol production.

This wonderful ASAP Science video explains it all:

Quick Coffee Q&A:

HELP! I’m drinking regular coffee but it feels like decaf!?
You’ve developed a tolerance to caffeine my friend — nice work! This means your consistent consumption has decreased cortisol production levels in your body throughout the day. So it will take a lot more cups to equate to how one cup used to make you feel before this caffeine habit became excessive.
Yikes! I canNOT fully wake up in the morning without caffeine in my bloodstream. Why is that?!
CONGRATS! You have successfully modified your circadian rhythm to depend on a caffeine boost to reach full wakefulness. Be careful since, as stated above, tolerance can ensue.
I’m an introvert and coffee really doesn’t seem to help me be productive. How come?
Introverts should avoid coffee before important meetings or stimulating situations since extroverts and introverts differ in their neocortical arousal levels in the brain. This affects how alert or responsive we are to our environment. Introverts are over the optimal level, meaning they are more easily stimulated, than extroverts, who are under the optimal level and therefore are less easily stimulated.  Performance is compromised if introverts are exposed to stimulating situations or if they ingest a stimulant which pushes them further away from their optimal level. So my lovely introverts, it is best to ingest it later on in the day.
I wake up either super early (like myself) or super late, what is the best time to drink coffee based on my wake up time?
Since cortisol levels increase by 50% after you wake up regardless of the time, science has found that it is best to wake at least an hour before your first cup of Joe for optimal effect. **For an accurate calculation as to when you should consume coffee based on your wake up time, use this handy tool** 

In other news, which I am super excited about, I’ve been slacking a bit on here but it is with good reason.  About a month ago I applied to be apart of Neil Patel’s team as a Research Assistant for a new book that will be coauthored by Patrick Vlaskovits and Jonas Koffler.  

I just got notice last night that I got it!  

So in celebration, everyone rejoice with me over a nice cup of Jo but please make mine Irish with whipped cream on top.  Of course, whether coffee or otherwise, do drink responsibly.  

Will Farrell in the movie Elf drinking coffee

Do you drink coffee at the appropriate time? How do you take your coffee?

Sources: Header Image, 1, 2

whyimcray signature

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40 Comments
  • Charlotte
    November 5, 2015 at 2:27 PM

    NO.WAY.

    Honestly, I never knew this was a thing OR that drinking coffee at different kinds of the day can actually be more effective. I totally wake up, brush teeth, stretch, and grab a coffee. It’s so habitual for me!

    Definitely going to have to rethink my schedule so I can make coffee work for ME! 🙂 Thanks for this awesome info, Iva!

    Reply
    • AwesomelyOZ
      November 10, 2015 at 8:01 AM

      Yes way LOL 🙂 Neither did I, I read about this a few months ago and it’s definitely a better way to control the habit. Well you can continue your habit just wait about an hour before you actually take a sip. Use those fancy heat-lock tumblers. Dooo it!! You’re welcome lovely, hope it helps you feel better throughout the day!! Take Care lovely Charlotte! <3 -Iva

      Reply
  • Stephanie
    November 5, 2015 at 2:58 PM

    I drink my coffee earlier than that but I think, based on an earlier wake up time, I’m in the time frame! I drink it once I get to work (where it’s free, duh) and that’s about 9 am.

    Reply
    • AwesomelyOZ
      November 10, 2015 at 8:05 AM

      Same here! I try to avoid spending on coffee since we have it here, tea I prefer to buy or bring from home since the ones here are g r o s s. I’ll tolerate the coffee though, it’s not too horrifying. I wake up early as well so my scheduled timing is a bit different. Glad I’m not the only one suffering early in the morning! Take Care Stephanie! <3 -Iva

      Reply
  • Laura @ Life with Lolo
    November 5, 2015 at 3:15 PM

    Interesting!!! I’m new to the coffee drinking fad, and I typically don’t have any till I get to work – so maybe I’m doing it right? Haha hard to tell. I think I have a pretty built up tolerance to caffeine anyways even other than coffee as it doesn’t affect me majorly. I think I just like the warm goodness every morning! But I’m taking note of the best times to drink it now – just in case!

    Reply
    • AwesomelyOZ
      November 10, 2015 at 8:13 AM

      I always enjoyed coffee for the caffeine, although I had to ingest large amounts to get any kind of effect, at this point I only drink one cup a day. I definitely do enjoy the warmth it provides, esp if it’s flavored with something. 🙂 Have a great one Laura! -Iva

      Reply
  • Tia G.
    November 5, 2015 at 3:52 PM

    I fucking won life on this one! My alarm goes off at 5:15 and I go to the gym first. I don’t drink coffee until I’m in my car on the way to work, which is roughly 8:10am…not EXACTLY the calculations per this post, but damn close! On the weekends when I drink it almost the second I wake up, I notice I’m more lethargic throughout the day. Good to know why!

    Reply
    • AwesomelyOZ
      November 10, 2015 at 8:21 AM

      TIAAAAAAAAA!!!!! How have you been lovely? I thought you stopped blogging?! I’m the same way, I do a little yoga before and then get ready for work by the time I’m settled in the office, it’s time for my first cup of Jo so I don’t even notice it yet. 🙂 Now you know why, give yourself time to wake up on weekends too. Have a great one Tia and thanks for stopping by! Will chat soon -Iva

      Reply
  • catherine
    November 5, 2015 at 5:50 PM

    i heard that caffeine and coffee helps you live longer. sadly i don’t drink either; it makes me crazy!

    Reply
    • AwesomelyOZ
      November 10, 2015 at 8:24 AM

      It can, depends how you drink it. If you drink more sugar than coffee, then no, it won’t help you live longer – but if you drink it with a) straight b) just cream/milk (not sweetened) or c) butter (I kid you not); it does have benefits. It’s just an acquired taste. I developed it since my mother would give it to me when I was little and I grew accustomed to its bitterness. 🙂 Haha if you can’t tolerate it that means your energy levels are good – be grateful! Drink red wine instead 😉 Have a great one Catherine! -Iva

      Reply
  • Duckie
    November 5, 2015 at 6:22 PM

    Yay for me I win! Lol. I get up at around 5:30…okay who am I kidding – 6am and usually don’t drink coffee until I get to work and get settled in, so about 9:15-9:30. Then after that I drink water all day until 3pm when I drink my last cup of the day. Weekends are usually coffee-free days since I can sleep in!

    Reply
    • AwesomelyOZ
      November 10, 2015 at 8:39 AM

      Same here! LOL I wake up between 5-5:30 but that’s because I get in at 7 – allegedly. 🙂 Yes I try to balance the water and caffeine intake. It’s hard since I have trouble remembering to drink water, even if its in front of me. I’m always doing something else. Same here on weekends, except when the boyfriend wants to go grab some but then I try to grab tea. Still caffeinated! Love your nickname 🙂 Have a great one Duckie and thanks for stopping by! -Iva

      Reply
  • SMD @ Life According to Steph
    November 6, 2015 at 11:35 AM

    So I get my coffee at about 8:15 on work days, take a few sips, and don’t finish it until after noon. I am pretty much a most of the day drinker but not an early morning chugger! LOL

    Reply
    • AwesomelyOZ
      November 10, 2015 at 9:04 AM

      LOL! That’s awesome, I’ll do that a lot of times too. By then my coffee is cold but it doesn’t even bother me. Others cringe at the thought of cold coffee but honestly, I just need the caffeine 🙂 Have a great one and enjoy your coffee Steph! -Iva

      Reply
  • Tamara
    November 6, 2015 at 12:53 PM

    I’m drinking mine right now!!
    It’s decaf, though. And horribly sweet. Shame on you, Starbucks.

    Reply
    • AwesomelyOZ
      November 10, 2015 at 9:34 AM

      Me too! Tis that time 🙂 It’s Pumpkin Spiced! LOL Hilarious – ewww decaf! That should be illegal. What’s the point in coffee with no caffeine!? :'( Lol Enjoy it lovely! Take Care Tam Tam <3 -Iva

      Reply
  • Karla @SmallTownRambler
    November 6, 2015 at 6:02 PM

    I did not know that! Thanks for sharing. I’m totally losing on this one, drinking coffee not long after I get out of bed. :-/

    Reply
    • AwesomelyOZ
      November 10, 2015 at 9:36 AM

      Well glad to have shared this information with you 🙂 Well use the handy, dandy tool to calculate when you should be drinking your morning cup of Jo every day 🙂 Thanks for stopping by Karla! Take Care -Iva

      Reply
  • Jen
    November 7, 2015 at 8:54 AM

    Man, that explains everything! What a crock! I don’t drink coffee (I turn into a shake monster with no impulse control) but I drink green tea like my life depends on it….apparently because it does haha. Dammit! I don’t think I could handle not drinking tea until 9AM. It’s like my routine, man. Tea, kids, computer, kids, yoga, kids, then start my day. Son of a gun.

    Reply
    • AwesomelyOZ
      November 10, 2015 at 9:42 AM

      LOL! I know people like you, I envy, that means you have a fair level of energy on your own. I don’t. I’m on the negative energy spectrum so I have to “catch up” to you guys by means of stimulants, like caffeine. I drink Earl Gray – which has pretty high caffeine content (the ones I get anyway) and it makes me happy too. I’m the one that can walk into any cafe and go “what has the highest caffeine content?” LOL That’s how I like my drink: high on caffeine. I did this at Teavana too, walked out with a powdered green tea concoction – It’s amazing but I always forget to bring it to work. Lol. Girl my routine is yoga, get ready, pump some music, settle into work, and make some caffeine/tea! Have a great one lovley Jen!! <3 -Iva

      Reply
  • Terry Tate
    November 9, 2015 at 12:37 PM

    You Kill The Jo’, You Make Some Mo’!

    Reply
    • AwesomelyOZ
      November 10, 2015 at 9:42 AM

      THE PAIN TRAIN WOOP WOOP, WOOP WOOP!! lol I can’t believe I overlooked this reference. When I repurpose this, that clip is going to be attached. F’ing hilarious! lmfao

      Reply
  • Rudri Bhatt Patel @ Being Rudri
    November 9, 2015 at 12:40 PM

    Great information! I know cortisol effects so much re:our bodies, but it’s interesting to know when it is at its peak. Thanks!

    Reply
    • AwesomelyOZ
      November 10, 2015 at 9:44 AM

      Yes cortisol definitely affects our bodies extensively. Glad this reference was helpful to you Rudri. Take care and talk soon! -Iva

      Reply
  • Noor Unnahar
    November 9, 2015 at 4:10 PM

    Wonderful info, Iva! I am a tea-drinker so I can’t relate much, but my sister just started drinking coffee (as a routine) and I’ve been gathering more info about such habits and their effects. It’s great to know how it works on different levels!

    Reply
    • AwesomelyOZ
      November 10, 2015 at 9:46 AM

      Thank you Noor! 🙂 Coffee is great and has wonderful health properties, so long as it is not overloaded with sugar. I drink both coffee and tea interchangeably so it just depends on my mood. Tea is caffeinated, the ones I drink, so I still stick to the same drinking schedule. 🙂 Have a great one Noor! -Iva

      Reply
  • GiGi Eats
    November 9, 2015 at 10:50 PM

    No coffee for me. However I do have a vice… Not sure I want to air that out on line though, LMFAO! But lets just say, I get my caffeine when I wake up in the morning, during my CORTISOL time! ha ah!

    Reply
    • AwesomelyOZ
      November 10, 2015 at 9:47 AM

      LOL!! Well feel free to email me what your vice is, I have mine too and I don’t really disclose either but we all have something don’t we? 🙂 Also during my cortisol time. Lol. Have a great one lovely GiGi! <3 -Iva

      Reply
  • Danielle @ tiny-trots
    November 10, 2015 at 10:57 AM

    This is SO interesting! I’ve never heard of this before. Thankfully I’m a decaf drinker, so it doesn’t apply. I’m sharing this. Great post!

    Reply
    • AwesomelyOZ
      November 10, 2015 at 11:10 AM

      Glad you found this interesting Danielle! I did too when I read about it a few months ago. 🙂 I’m a total caffeine drinker, I find decaf offensive LOL Then again, I need to stimulation! Thank you for sharing and for commenting Danielle! Take Care -Iva

      Reply
  • jackie
    November 11, 2015 at 7:57 PM

    i usually first drink coffee when i get to work. but i’ve actually been awake for over an hour by that point so i guess it’s not too bad?

    Reply
    • AwesomelyOZ
      November 12, 2015 at 2:12 PM

      Haha that’s not so bad at all indeed 🙂 You can always use the tool referenced above to find out the exact timing when you ought to be drinking it. If you desire anyway. 🙂 Have a great one Jackie! Take Care -Iva

      Reply
  • Debbie
    November 13, 2015 at 8:42 AM

    Wow — I’ve never heard this before. Definitely food for thought as I am drinking my morning coffee at 8:45 a.m.! Thanks!

    Reply
    • AwesomelyOZ
      November 17, 2015 at 9:38 AM

      Glad I could share something new with you Debbie 🙂 Depending on when you wake up, that maybe the right or wrong time. Use the tool above to calculate it! 🙂 Thanks for stopping by Debbie, always great to see new faces here! Have a great one -Iva

      Reply
  • kathy @ more coffee, less talky
    November 17, 2015 at 5:32 PM

    seems that i drink my coffee at the right times! i wake super early (around 5-530am) and then have it around 630ish. cream and a bit of sugar is my jam 😀

    Reply
    • AwesomelyOZ
      November 19, 2015 at 7:50 AM

      Same here, early bird, which doesn’t mean I’m a morning person – but I have to wake up between 5 and 5:30AM too. 🙂 Since I like to bake I restrict sugar in other aspects of my dietary habits: like coffee. SO just cream for me :'( I miss the sugar but I save it for baking cheat days. Lol. Have a great one Kathy! Take Care and talk soon -Iva

      Reply
  • Jessica @ Independent Travel Cats
    November 25, 2015 at 11:37 AM

    Congrats Iva on the research assistant job!!

    Very interesting and this all makes so much sense! Yes, I tend to drink coffee both in the morning and later in the afternoon during that 2-3pm slump. But honestly in grad school I just drank it all day long….my poor body!

    Reply
    • AwesomelyOZ
      December 3, 2015 at 12:56 PM

      Thanks love!!! 🙂 I’m very excited, it’s slowly picking up. 🙂

      I agree! Now, I drink in the morning maybe once a day that’s all. Sometimes I’ll substitute coffee with tea. I used to ingest a LOT of caffeine when I was younger to get through my school and work days. 🙂 Thank God those days are over and my body has been moderately forgiving! Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving Holiday! Take Care -Iva

      Reply
  • Dorothy
    May 16, 2016 at 7:56 AM

    My life begins after coffee, so the first thing I do when I wake up, I make it and drink it. 🙂

    Reply

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