When you walk into work on a Monday morning and see a screen full of emails waiting and a couple dozen items on your to-do list, you’re probably not going to sit down and work through each of these tasks at maximum efficiency. Instead, you’re going to sigh, silently curse the world for creating Mondays, then move to the break room and grab a cup of coffee.
You’re going to count on that jolt of caffeine to give you the push needed to work through your list quickly. But what if the coffee first thing in the morning isn’t really giving you the mood and performance improvement you need?
Drink Coffee At the Right Time
Coffee’s benefits may not work as well at certain times of the day for certain people — including mornings. So while 63% of Americans try to give themselves a jolt of energy with at least one cup of coffee at work, the timing of that cup can have a significant effect on whether it actually works!
Some people need coffee more during the late morning or just after lunch versus first thing in the morning. Cortisol — a hormone that the body uses to counteract low levels of blood glucose and produce a quick burst of energy — can take care of your pick-me-up provisions at other times of the day.
If you ingest caffeine at times when your body is already generating cortisol, you’ll begin to develop a tolerance to the level of stimulation that coffee gives you. And the more caffeine you ingest on a regular basis, the more tolerance your body will develop toward caffeine’s benefits.
Another thing to remember: while most people generate cortisol at similar times of day, each person is a little different. Your body may generate cortisol at different times than expected. You’ll have to keep an eye on what times of day caffeine gives you the most benefit, so that you can save your cups of coffee for when you really need them.
Another misconception about caffeinated coffee is that it spikes a person’s creativity. What it really does, however, is work as a stimulant, helping you get stuff done faster. So for tasks that are repetitive in nature, such as responding to emails, the caffeine in coffee can help you more so than in a task that demands creative thinking.
To receive more benefits from caffeine, you may want to watch what you eat while drinking coffee. A high-fat, high-sugar snack, such as a donut, appears to make the body absorb and discard caffeine at a faster pace. Instead, try a piece of fruit or low-sugar granola bar with your cup of coffee. Your body’s caffeine absorption will be more gradual, giving you more energy over a longer period of time.
Don’t Counteract the Cortisol
Most importantly, though, is making sure that cup of coffee gives you the intended benefits.