First thing’s first: We get it. There are few things more sacred than that first cup of morning joe, and if you are among the 60% of Americans who say that they cannot start their day without it, don’t worry – we’re not attempting to convince you otherwise.
For most, the morning coffee ritual is much more than just the “first cup,” but rather a time for tranquility, solicitude and reflection. But what if we told you it was possible to make that little morning moment even better?
What Does Coffee Do to Our Brains?
But first, let’s remember why we’ve grown to love coffee. When your brain is awake, it is continuously producing a substance called adenosine, which arises from the breakdown of the energy molecule called adenosine triphosphate, or ATP. The brain needs a great deal of energy to function to its full potential, so the adenosine continues to build while you’re awake.
Your brain constantly monitors how much adenosine is floating around, and the more adenosine it sees, the sleepier it feels – hence the magic of coffee.
Caffeine works by tricking your brain into thinking there is less adenosine present by inhibiting its ability to determine how much adenosine has built up. When you have caffeine in your system, your brain thinks it’s been awake for far shorter than it really has, so you feel more awake.
Coffee in the Morning
Now let’s talk about the science behind what makes that first cup of joe so wonderful.
As we all know, our circadian clock is the internal, 24-hour hormone cycle responsible for regulating how sleepy or awake we feel throughout the day. On top of that, our circadian clocks control our cortisol production, the natural hormone responsible for making us feel more awake.
But according to scientists, if we drink that morning cup of coffee at a time of peak cortisol production, the effects of our beloved coffee will be noticeably diminished.
You might not have ever noticed this for one of two reasons: you’ve had your coffee at the same time every day, for as long as you can remember or your body has built up a caffeine tolerance (yes, it’s a real thing) that interferes with your ability to observe the true effects on caffeine on your brain.
So, what is the ideal time to have your first cup of coffee?
For those waking up between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m., it’s likely your cortisol levels will be highest at the earlier end of that spectrum and drop between 9 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. (Side note: those levels will rise and fall again around noon and 5:30 p.m.)
If you are someone who tends to wake up between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m., science says you will benefit the most from your cup of coffee when you indulge between the hours of 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. For those who fall victim to the “3 p.m. wall,” you may find another cup between the hours of 1:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. could help you to power through your afternoon.
And if you’re someone who wakes up before or after that 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. window, consider this your rule of thumb: You should avoid having your first cup of coffee until about an hour after wake up.
It may not be easy, and it certainly won’t be much fun, but adjusting your coffee clock to meet the demands of your cortisol levels may just what you need to jump-start your day. Try it out!
If you still feel sleepy after your coffee caffeine kick, it might be time for a new mattress. Visit one of our Mattress Firm locations and we will have you sipping your morning coffee from your comfortable new bed in no time.
About The Author
The Daily Dozers is a team of our finest Mattress Firm sleep happy experts, pooling their expertise to bring you all you need to know on sleep news of the day and the latest trends in sleep health. Sometimes our team of regular Daily Doze contributors (Craig, Ken and Sunni…not to name names) will throw a pillow or two when trying to decide who gets to write about which topic; and when that happens, we let our task force of daily dozin’ specialists play referee, pooling their knowledge on the topic. From super-sized snoring habits to the very real struggle of trying to become a morning person, there’s no topic too tired for The Daily Dozers.
Best Night’s Sleep: There’s nothing that this dream team loves more than long walks on the beach to prepare for a peaceful slumber, a warm cup of lavender tea, an old Jane Austen novel and curling up in the comfort of their very own Mattress Firm beds.