Say No Mo’ to Your Morning Cup ‘o Joe – Why your trusty morning ritual isn’t doing you much good.

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Hey guys, how about that headline? That’s the kind of productive thinking we hope our crippling caffeine addictions will deliver us each day, right? Unfortunately, I’ve got two things I need to break to you guys (I take no pleasure in delivering this news): 1) The kind of creative genius behind that headline can’t be taught and can’t be coaxed out with caffeine, 2) Drinking your coffee first thing in the morning is doing you no good. In fact, continuing your marriage to this classic ritual may not only be ineffective, but can actually decrease the effects of caffeine.

  Turns out that our bodies do us a favor every time we wake up and release cortisol, a hormone that helps us rev up  in the morning and get us feeling alert as soon as possible. Drinking coffee during the first 90 minutes of the day won’t do you much good and can lead to another cup or two after the cortisol has worn off. Drinking more coffee will increase your tolerance, meaning you’ll need more coffee to feel the desired effects of caffeine, which will continue to grow your tolerance and you’ll find yourself in a valley of diminishing coffee returns. Nobody wants to turn into this guy:

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So, if not first thing in the morning, then when is the best time to get the most bang for your buck(s)? There’s a convenient chart illustrating best coffee times here. Your body runs on a circadian clock, otherwise known as your ‘body clock,’ and the ebbs and flows of cortisol throughout the day are dictated by your circadian rhythm. Everyone has a different circadian rhythm, as it is dependent on when we wake up and go to sleep every day, but for the sake of explanation we’ll stick to a standard schedule of asleep by 12 and awake by 8. On this schedule, cortisol will carry you until around 9:30 am every morning, and the next two-and-a-half hours is prime time for your favorite Vitamin C delivery system. Cortisol kicks back in around lunch time, and should carry you through the hour of noon to 1 o’clock, but get yourself excited for the period between 1 and 5 pm because the caffeine you take in during that time will come in handy. And no one needs to be reminded that caffeine after 5 o’clock is a bad idea, right?

Now, I know that change is hard, and many of us have been relying on that cup of coffee first thing in the morning for a long time, but don’t forget that it’s an exercise in futility that early in the morning, and that if you really want to respect your dark roast you’ll drink it during an hour when it can really do what it’s meant to do. We all want to live out our destinies – let your coffee live out its own.

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