It’s 10am on a Monday morning. I’d be very surprised if any of you haven’t had a coffee yet. I certainly have. In fact, the likelihood is that I’ve had two.
Just like thousands of others across the country, coffee has become an essential part of my morning routine. It is a caffeinated ritual that helps us get going in the morning and prepares us for the day ahead.
But what if I told you that new research suggests that drinking coffee soon after you wake up can actually be counterproductive?
Did I just hear thousands of jaws drop (maybe a little optimistic about my readership…)? There’s a simple, biological explanation for all this, if you just bear with me. Here’s the science bit.
Our bodies produce a hormone called ‘cortisol’, also known as ‘the stress hormone’, when we are stressed or fearful. It is regulated by sunlight, and plays a big part in our daily hormonal cycle. Cortisol levels dictate when we wake up, when we are at our most productive during the day, and when we fall asleep.
When our body releases cortisol, we feel more awake.
And yes, as the sharp ones among you (which may be few and far between at this time on a Monday morning) have probably already guessed, we produce most cortisol in the morning. This is a problem for morning coffee-drinkers for two reasons. Number one – caffeine interferes with cortisol production, so actually stops your body from waking up. Number two – drinking coffee when cortisol levels are high leads us to develop a tolerance for the caffeine. Basically, the caffeine in your coffee comes to replace the cortisol that wakes you up the normal way.
So when should you drink it? Well, cortisol peaks three times in the day – first thing in the morning, around midday, and in the evening. You should therefore adapt your coffee-drinking habits to fit with the cortisol troughs i.e. between now and noon, and between 2pm and 5pm.
I don’t know about you, but I often experience a slump in productivity around 2pm each day. That’s when coffee, my old faithful, truly comes to the rescue and gets me writing again. It all makes sense, now! So I propose an experiment. This week, try drinking coffee in sync with your daily cortisol cycle and observe your productivity levels in the office.
Tell me about your findings! Write to us in the comments section below, tweets us @GreenerMediaUK or post on our Facebook page. I’d be really interested to see how the time of day that we drink coffee in the office affects productivity levels.
Of course, make sure that, whatever time to drink it, the coffee you drink in the office is great!