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The Best Time of the Day to Drink Coffee

For Better Health Benefits

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If you rely on coffee to help get you through the day, you can relax knowing that you’re far from alone. In fact, over 2.25 billion cups of coffee are consumed in the world every day.

While we’re collectively drinking coffee with increased frequency, we might not be maximizing the health and energy-boosting benefits of our daily caffeine fix. According to American magazine Inc., an analysis of 127 scientific studies highlighted the many benefits of drinking coffee, from a longer average life span to a reduced risk for cancer, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and Parkinson’s disease.

The small issue here is that the benefits of coffee could differ depending on the time of day that you drink it. Science tells us that it’s best to drink coffee when your body’s cortisol levels are low. That’s because both caffeine and cortisol cause a stress response in your body, with too much stress being bad for your health for obvious reasons. In addition, it might end up making you more tired in the long run.

Cortisol, a stress hormone, is released in accordance with your circadian rhythms. This varies from person to person, but in general, someone who wakes up at 6:30 a.m. would see their cortisol levels peak in different windows, including 8 to 9 a.m., noon to 1 p.m., and 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Someone who rises at 10 a.m. would experience cortisol spikes roughly three hours later, and ultra-early risers can expect to push this schedule three hours forward.

However, these cortisol levels start to rise as soon as you start moving in the morning, so it isn’t an ideal time to drink coffee. Neither is the afternoon, because doing so could make it more difficult to fall asleep at night. This means that people who wake up at 6:30 a.m. should drink coffee after that first cortisol window closes—roughly between 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.—if they want to benefit for a little caffeine jolt. The ideal time would be mid-morning or early afternoon. That's when your cortisol levels are at their lowest and you actually benefit from the stimulant itself.

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