Coffee: according to science we drink it at the wrong time.  Which is the right one?

To have a positive effect, coffee should be drunk at specific times of the day. Which are not the ones we usually drink it in …

Eugenio Spagnuolo

– Milan

For those who love it, as an old commercial with Nino Manfredi used to repeat, every moment of the day is the right one to drink a coffee. However, science and medicine tell us this is not quite the case: coffee should only be drunk in a few moments. And often they are not what we believe …

Coffee: the right time to drink it, according to science

Drinking coffee can increase or decrease its benefits, or even turn it into a health risk, depending on the moment. Experts in chrono-pharmacology, a branch of neuroscience that studies our natural biological rhythms believe that on an average day, the best time to consume coffee, for example, is not as soon as you wake up, but in the middle of the morning. Upon awakening, the levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) are naturally at their highest. Therefore, it is undesirable to increase our body’s cortisol response with caffeine. It would mean creating unnecessary stress. Delaying caffeine consumption until cortisol levels have dropped slightly appears to be more beneficial. When?

What is the best time to drink coffee

Science tells us that our cortisol levels peak between 8am and 9am, noon to 1pm and 5.30pm to 6.30pm. Therefore, for a person who is neither morning nor night owl, and therefore has different rhythms, the best time for a coffee (with caffeine) is between 9:30 and 11:30. Another coffee could then be drunk in the early afternoon.

Coffee: how long before a workout?

The ideal time to have a coffee also depends on our activities. For example, if we are going to practice any form of exercise, according to a study it may be helpful to consume coffee 30-60 minutes before training: Caffeine gives us the energy boost that can help us improve performance and endurance. But it takes about 30 minutes to take effect.

Coffee: how long before an exam?

Experts also claim that we can indulge in a cup of coffee 30 minutes before we have to complete an important task, such as taking an exam, giving a presentation, or attending a meeting. That is the right amount of time that will allow us to be more alert and focused. But beware, it doesn’t apply to everyone. People who are more sensitive to the effects of caffeine, according to doctors, should rather limit their consumption in the morning and avoid consuming it during the rest of the day, to prevent sleep disturbances, anxiety, rapid heart rate and other effects of caffeine.

Afternoon coffee: yes or no?

Even if cortisol drops in the afternoon, drinking coffee isn’t always a good idea why caffeine stays in the body for up to 12 hours and this can contribute to insomnia, as well as being a source of stress. The same goes for a coffee – not decaffeinated – after dinner. According to a study, consuming caffeine as early as 6 hours before going to bed can disrupt sleep. Although – it must be said – each of us metabolizes caffeine in our own way and the time it takes to stop feeling the effects may not be the same for everyone. Taking this variability into account, experts still advise against exceeding the dose of 400 mg of caffeine per day, which corresponds to about 5 cups of espresso.

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