By: Jennifer Maher
Like many of us, you may connect with coffee on a spiritual level—you NEED your caffeine. It’s what keeps you going. But have you ever considered that you might be reaching for that coffee at the wrong time of day? Recent studies show that there is an optimal time frame that us coffee-lovers should be consuming our first cup of Joe, and it’s not first thing in the morning.
It all comes down to the body’s circadian rhythm and production of a hormone called cortisol. Your circadian rhythm affects physical, mental, and behavioral changes in the body, specifically, your sleep/wake cycle and hormone regulation. Cortisol, also known as the “stress hormone” is actually not all that bad. Cortisol is what keeps us alert, and depending on your sleep/wake cycle, it is naturally at its highest within the first hour of waking up. Circadian rhythms are influenced by the amount of lightness and darkness in one’s environment which is why cortisol production is amped when you first wake up. This means that you are naturally most alert at this time. This just so happens to be around the same time that most people slug their morning perks. However, caffeine is least effective when cortisol levels are at their peak, and taking in caffeine when it is least effective means you are more likely to develop a tolerance for it.
So instead of reaching for that coffee first thing in the morning, try a more natural route to easing into the day. For optimal energy, wait about 1 hour after waking up before consuming your first cup. Once the body’s cortisol levels naturally slough off, usually about an hour after being awake, is when you should ideally consume your caffeine. Bonus tip: Since light has a major effect on our body’s circadian clock and enhances cortisol production in the AM, ditch the sunglasses for the morning commute or take a quick walk around the block to start your day with some sunlight—we all know there is plenty of that in Ocean County!
Try some of Ocean County’s favorite local coffee shops; just make sure it’s after your cortisol levels peak!
• Green Planet Coffee Company, Manasquan & Point Pleasant Beach
• Turnstile Coffee Roasters, Belmar
• The French Press Coffee Roasters, Lakewood
• Revolutionary Lounge & Café, Toms River
• Java Moon Café, Jackson