If you’re anything like the rest of us, you probably make a beeline for the coffee machine as soon as you wake up in the morning. In fact, over 85 percent of Americans consume caffeine regularly—and coffee is the preferred medium. (Here’s what happens to your body when you drink coffee every day.) As for the optimal time to drink your daily cup of Joe? There’s a “sweet spot” that could maximize your caffeine kick, and surprisingly enough, it’s not first thing in the morning.
Although having your coffee right away may cause your alertness to spike in the a.m., that feeling quickly crashes just a few hours later. That’s why you should “definitely limit coffee when you first wake up,” Laura Cipullo, registered dietitian and author of Women’s Health Body Clock Diet, told CNBC.
To get the most bang for your brew, experts recommend drinking your coffee in the mid-morning or early afternoon, instead. Getting a hit of caffeine about three to four hours after you wake up will do the trick, too. Why? At that point in the day, your body is low on cortisol—the stress hormone that makes you feel alert—and desperately needs a good pick-me-up.
Of course, if you can’t function without your morning cuppa, then by all means, continue drinking! Not everyone abides by the mid-morning theory, anyway. Registered dietitian-nutritionist Melanie Dellinges believes it’s the amount of caffeine you consume, not when you consume it, that matters the most. She recommends limiting your intake to two to four cups a day. (Here’s how many cups per day you should drink to live longer, by the way.)
Regardless of when you decide to drink your java, try to avoid drinking coffee (or stick to decaf!) after 2 or 3 in the afternoon. Research shows that caffeine can disrupt your sleep up to six hours after you consume it. Here are 8 more of your important coffee questions, answered.