Reaching for that cup of coffee before you head to your desk on Monday morning feels natural. But what if the caffeine boost you’re seeking from the coffee is actually fighting against your body’s own natural stimulants? As shown in the accompanying infographic, it’s important that coffee drinkers understand when caffeine can help and when it counteracts what the body is already doing.
Cortisol and Productivity
Cortisol is a chemical your body generates to provide you with some extra energy at times during the day when you need it. For example, your body will provide cortisol early in the morning, helping you start the day more quickly. Humans typically generate cortisol during midday and in the early evening as well, so you’ll be smart to avoid drinking coffee during these periods of the day.
If you choose to ingest coffee during these times when cortisol is at its peak in your bloodstream, the caffeine won’t have a significant effect on your energy level. However, as shown in the infographic, drinking coffee in the late morning instead can have the desired boost to your productivity.
Keep in mind that if you choose to look for a boost from coffee, it can take from 15 to 45 minutes for the caffeine to take full effect. If you really need a pick-me-up because you know you have a big task coming up, try to anticipate when you’ll begin the project. Then consider what your cortisol levels will be like at that time, and monitor your coffee drinking accordingly.
Some people may feel more creative after a boost of caffeine from the late morning cup of coffee. However, the studies referenced in the infographic show coffee doesn’t help in types of work where quality is more important than quantity.
For example, if you’re preparing to reply to a few dozen e-mails or if you need to do some repetitive data entry, the caffeine in the coffee should provide the boost you need to get the job done quickly and efficiently. But if you’re trying to develop the latest creative marketing campaign for your company, coffee isn’t necessarily going to provide a benefit.
Tolerance to Caffeine
One final idea to remember: If you ingest too much coffee, you’re going to develop a tolerance, meaning that caffeine won’t have the ability to give you the boost you’re seeking. Those who smoke also tend to receive less of a benefit from caffeine.
If you’d like to continue to receive a pick-me-up from drinking coffee, you need to cut back on the amount of coffee you consume to avoid developing a tolerance. As shown in the included infographic, try drinking smaller amounts of caffeine during the day, rather than extremely large cups of coffee. And try eating a healthy, low-fat snack with your coffee. This will help to boost the effects of the caffeine and to give you the additional productivity you need after a tough weekend!