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Why You Should Wait to Drink Coffee in the Morning: Expert Tips

a cup of coffee on bed

One of the first things that people do in the morning is to reach for their beloved cup of coffee, that first sip of pure caffeinated bliss to help them wake up. It is an age-old routine going back decades, a part of everyday morning culture to start the day. Many, in fact, don’t even have water or food before their coffee, electing to drink coffee on an empty stomach.

However, there are a few reasons to consider waiting to have coffee, even though that sounds like an impossibility.  Though most people can’t resist and will drink it anyway, here are some reasons to consider holding off on coffee right away:

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Why You Should Hold Off on Your Morning Brew

Cortisol: The Stress Hormone

Having coffee first thing in the morning may sound like a normal part of the day, but there are some reasons why waiting can be beneficial. One of those reasons is a pesky stress hormone called cortisol, which is responsible for quite a few body functions that all correlate to stress management.

It helps the body handle stressful situations in which things like blood pressure, metabolism, blood sugar, and inflammation are all connected to stress. Constant situations that cause high levels of stress influence the output of cortisol, leading to symptoms like weight gain, acne, heart palpitations, and even difficulty concentrating.

coffe and coffee maker on bed
Image Credit: Daniela Constantini, Pexels

Cortisol and Coffee

But what does this hormone have to do with coffee? Cortisol levels in the blood during the morning are high, which helps bring alertness and a feeling of wakefulness. Epinephrine is also elevated at this time and comes from the adrenal glands as cortisol does, so your body starts to wake up on its own before you even open your eyes.

In other words, as soon as you wake up, your body is making you awake and alert naturally through hormonal level changes. If you drink a cup of coffee right away, you may not actually feel the full effects of caffeine if your cortisol levels are too high. That means your precious cup of coffee may be a waste if you’re drinking it the right way.

Another reason to wait because of cortisol is that cortisol naturally elevates blood pressure, so adding caffeine to the mix can spike it even more. If you have a problem with high blood pressure, you might want to consider waiting for your coffee so your blood pressure doesn’t spike in the morning.

How Long Should You Wait?

Since Cortisol spikes in the early hours of the morning (around 4 to 5 am) and lowers as the morning goes on, waiting at least 20 minutes to have your coffee should help you feel the caffeine better. Waiting as long as 45 minutes to an hour is a little more ideal since your body won’t be pumping your “alert” hormones at this point.

On the flip side, if you’re looking for a strong caffeine jolt before a run or a particularly early morning task, drinking your coffee fast and right away may help. However, it won’t last nearly as long and you may feel sluggish afterward. It’s best to save this for times when you need the energy as soon as possible, such as an intense workout.

a cup of coffee and a spoon on the table
Image Credit: Karolina Grabowska, Pexels

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Coffee in the morning is ritualistic for many, so it’s almost sacrilege to say it’s best to wait to have your coffee. While many will probably still continue to drink it first thing, you may want to experiment and see if waiting helps you get through the day. Because everyone’s hormone levels vary, waiting may help your energy levels last longer.

Experiment with different time spans and see when the caffeine kicks in, which can help you tell when your cortisone levels are lowering. However, if you’re set in stone on having coffee in the morning before anything else, it shouldn’t negatively affect your health unless you are prone to high blood pressure.

Featured Image Credit: cottonbro, Pexels


Jaimie Wisniowski

Jaimie is a freelance writer fueled by coffee, whether it’s hot, iced, or made from a local coffee shop. She enjoys writing all things coffee, especially if it means trying the latest coffee shop trends (hello cold foam!). After spending years writing poems, college essays, and short stories, it only a matter of time to turn writing into a career. Writing about coffee simply combined two of her favorite things! When she’s not drinking coffee by the minute and writing at her laptop, Jaimie spends time hiking, exercising, and living an active life. She also loves to snuggle up with a good book and her dog, Margo. If you catch her without a cup of coffee, she’s probably on her way to the coffee maker now.

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