Best Time of Day to Have Coffee Based on Science
Do you know what are the benefits of drinking coffee at different times of the day? Let's explore what is the best time to drink coffee according to science.
Your circadian rhythm (your sleep-wake cycle or natural body schedule) runs on a 24-hour cycle and is adjusted by your environment. While your circadian rhythm is endogenous ("built-in") it can be affected by external cues such as light and temperature. This is why you might feel more awake on sunny days or sleepier when it's cloudy or when you are in a space without light.
According to Steven L. Miller, a researcher at The Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, your circadian rhythm encourages the production of cortisol when you first wake up. Cortisol is a natural hormone produced in your body to give you energy and alertness and is naturally boosts throughout the day. Many people consume caffeinated drinks to feel more awake and alert; however, it doesn't matter what type of caffeinated beverage you choose to drink, whether it be our premium instant coffee or other quality coffee or energy drinks, the optimal times for caffeine will be around the same time for everyone. It will depend on your body’s natural schedule.
Drinking coffee in the Morning
Many people have the habit of drinking coffee in the morning and if you’re an early riser, then a cup of joe can help wake you up and get going faster. Cortisol in your body starts to increase the moment you wake up and peaks between 8am - 9am, which means drinking coffee at this time can be ineffective. The best time to drink coffee in the morning would be after the cortisol boost from 9am - 11:50am.
- Warms your body and can help you wake up in the morning
- Starts your day off with a boost of energy
- A cup of coffee in the morning can start your day off on a relaxing note
- Not as effective if drank between 8am - 9am
- It is also not ideal to drink coffee before 8am when cortisol is still increasing in your body
- Can become an addicting habit, and like with any addiction can have side effects when not consumed in the morning
Drinking coffee in the Afternoon
Drinking coffee in the afternoon can be a great pick-me-up and can get you going throughout the day. However, your body has a natural cortisol boost between 12pm - 1pm so if coffee is drank during this time, the caffeine boost will be wasted. The best time to drink coffee in the afternoon would be between 1pm - 5pm.
- Can be a great post lunch drink to avoid a food coma
- Gives you a boost of energy to get you through the rest of the day
- Ineffective if drank between 12pm - 1pm
- If also drank along with a cup of coffee in the morning, the body can develop a tolerance of caffeine over time
Drinking coffee at Night
Some people may enjoy drinking coffee at night or in the evening as a way to relax and unwind after a long day. The natural cortisol boost happens between 5:30pm - 6:30pm in the evening so drinking coffee during this time is not ideal. However, caffeine can negatively affect sleep if drank too close to your bedtime as it prevents and delays the production of melatonin in your body. It would be best to either not drink coffee after 5pm or drink decaffeinated coffee drinks.
- A way to relax and unwind from a stressful day
- May be good for those who need to stay up late (such as college students who need to pull all-nighters to study for exams)
- Delays the production of melatonin in the body
- Can negatively affect sleep quality
Best time for drinking coffee
Laura Cipullo, registered dietitian and author of “Women’s Health Body Clock Diet” tells CNBC Make It that it's best to have coffee "when the body is producing less cortisol, about three to four hours after waking." In that case, if you wake up between 6 am and 8 am, you should have your coffee between 9 am and 11 am.
If you want to have coffee in the afternoon, the best time will be 1pm - 5pm when your body is not producing as much cortisol. Keep in mind that you want to have your last cup of caffeinated drink 6 hours before your bedtime for the best sleep. If you still want coffee after that time, try drinking decaffeinated coffee or lower in caffeine drinks, such as black tea.