Biologically Speaking, When Is the Best Time of Day to Drink a Cup of Coffee?

Your word for the day is chronopharmacology. This is the study of the relationship between medication and the body’s natural rhythms. Steven Miller, a doctoral student at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland, studies it.

He explains that in order to get the biggest kick out of your coffee, you should time your caffeine intake with the body’s low times for releasing the hormone cortisol. Cortisol helps you stay alert and one of its peak times is 8 AM. So if you’re drinking coffee at 8 AM, all you’re doing is enhancing an already alert time:

Drug tolerance is an important subject, especially in the case of caffeine since most of us overuse this drug. Therefore, if we are drinking caffeine at a time when your cortisol concentration in the blood is at its peak, you probably should not be drinking it. This is because cortisol production is strongly related to your level of alertness and it just so happens that cortisol peaks for your 24 hour rhythm between 8 and 9 AM on average (Debono et al., 2009). Therefore, you are drinking caffeine at a time when you are already approaching your maximal level of alertness naturally. One of the key principles of pharmacology is use a drug when it is needed (although I’m sure some scientists might argue that caffeine is always needed). Otherwise, we can develop tolerance to a drug administered at the same dose. In other words, the same cup of morning coffee will become less effective and this is probably why I need a shot of espresso in mine now. Although your cortisol levels peak between 8 and 9 AM, there are a few other times where–on average–blood levels peak again and are between noon to 1 PM, and between 5:30 to 6:30 PM. In the morning then, your coffee will probably be the most effective if you enjoy it between 9:30 AM and 11:30 AM, when your cortisol levels are dropping before the next spike.

-via VA Viper

(Image: Emery Boards now on sale at the NeatoShop)

Newest 3
Newest 3 Comments

I'm a little bit alarmed to see that my "peak alertness" time is just before I get up. But for me, it's definitely a case of if I'm awake, it's time for a coffee.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Login to comment.

Email This Post to a Friend
"Biologically Speaking, When Is the Best Time of Day to Drink a Cup of Coffee?"

Separate multiple emails with a comma. Limit 5.


Success! Your email has been sent!

close window

This website uses cookies.

This website uses cookies to improve user experience. By using this website you consent to all cookies in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

I agree
Learn More