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Why You Shouldn’t Drink Coffee First Thing In The Morning

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Is there a better way to start the day than with a cup of coffee? It turns out the IFLScience staff are somewhat divided on this question, but many of us are confirmed devotees of the stuff. Whether it’s a double espresso or a long, cold iced latte, plenty of people turn to coffee to set them up for the day ahead. But is it possible that our tea-favoring colleagues have the right idea? 

Recently, the habit of slamming down a cup of joe as soon as you open your eyes has gained a bit of a bad rep. If you’re quietly crying into your cappuccino, we feel you. Thankfully, no one is saying that you should give up your morning coffee altogether – just that it might be better to wait a while before your first cup.

Coffee consumption has a number of demonstrable benefits. For starters, there’s the obvious: the caffeine it contains helps us stay more alert. While this effect may not be enough to totally counter the impacts of sleep deprivation on cognitive function, it can come into its own when you need a pick-me-up, such as during a long drive. 

Brewing a fresh pot is also a comforting and calming ritual, and we all need a few more of those in our lives. Even just the aroma of coffee was found by one recent study to have a stress-relieving effect on patients undergoing dental treatment.

There’s also some evidence to suggest coffee could be protective against diseases like Alzheimer’s and type 2 diabetes, certainly enough to warrant further research.

But all that notwithstanding, there are some people who should avoid coffee. Excessive caffeine consumption during pregnancy, for example, is not recommended by health experts. Some people with digestive problems, like irritable bowel syndrome or gastroesophageal reflux disease, may find their symptoms are easier to manage when they steer clear of coffee, but again the actual science on this is not settled, and it’s likely to come down to personal choice.

But why is that first cup of the day suddenly getting such bad press? 

One of the big factors is hydration. Caffeine does have a diuretic effect – meaning it makes you pee more. The water in coffee does go towards your daily fluid intake, so it’s not necessarily true to say that coffee is “dehydrating”, particularly in people who are very used to drinking it. However, plain old water is inarguably the best way of keeping hydrated. While you don’t need to worry about hitting a magic two-liter target, starting the morning with a glass of water before you hit the coffee might not be such a bad idea.

Another thing the coffee naysayers will mention is its reputed effect on stress hormones, through the release of the hormone cortisol. Coffee does stimulate the production of cortisol, which is already at peak levels just as we wake up, although this effect does seem to be reduced in regular coffee drinkers. However, if you’re necking a double shot the moment you open your eyes, you may not be getting the full benefit of all that lovely caffeine, so it might be better to wait until a bit later in your morning routine when the cortisol drop-off has begun.

In conclusion, we’ll continue to take our cue from one of Starfleet’s finest: coffee truly is “the finest organic suspension ever devised.” Admittedly, it might not be the best thing to reach for as soon as you wake up. But later in the morning? As long as coffee agrees with you, have at it!

All “explainer” articles are confirmed by fact checkers to be correct at time of publishing. Text, images, and links may be edited, removed, or added to at a later date to keep information current. 

The content of this article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.  

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