Unless you have a visceral aversion to it, coffee, for most of us, is the lifeblood of mothering; the petrol of parenthood.
Long days and longer nights spent in the baby trenches is hard enough on a sleep deprived brain, so it might seem counterintuitive to recommend a certain time to drink that cold cup (because it always seems to get cold before we get a chance to drink it!). And listen, if you’re already functioning on 20 minutes of sleep this morning, we’re not about to offer advice on any topic – let alone caffeine.
But, if you’re interested in maximising the effect of that liquid gold, we have information that might help.
It all begins with cortisol
Cortisol, the hormone that kicks in whenever you’re stressed, naturally spikes in the morning, as does adrenaline. Both begin to rise at around 4am, so if you’re running around, changing nappies, feeding or going out for a walk with your kid early (like 5am early), then consuming caffeine as soon as you wake up will give you a real kick – it’s just unlikely to last all that long.
But if a lengthy, sustained period of energy is what you’re after, waiting 45 minutes is key.
“There is some science behind isolating caffeine and peak cortisol so they don’t go head to head and have negative compounded effects in the body [like the jitters],” Tracy Lockwood Beckerman, registered dietitian and author of The Better Period Food Solution told The Huffington Post.
“You basically want the caffeine in the coffee to shine as a solo artist and not be influenced by the strong effects of cortisol.”
She explains that thanks to cortisol, your alertness and focus tends to peak 30-45 minutes after you wake up. “So in order to experience the true caffeine buzz, you may want to wait a beat before sipping your coffee, which will allow cortisol to mellow out,” she said.
A psychological advantage
There could also be a psychological advantage to waiting to sip that sweet, warm go-go bean juice.
“Anticipation brought on by delay can heighten your senses and satisfaction with any substance, including caffeine,” Peter Douglas, licensed clinical social worker and founder of Humantold explains. “Also, once your morning coffee becomes a part of your routine, it’s predictable. Consistency is an agent of dullness, and you’ll create novelty by delaying your first cup.”
So there you go, if you want a better caffeine high, delay that first cup. But if that sounds like an impossibility right now, we feel that too. As with anything, moderation and doing what’s right for you are the most important factors here – and maybe remembering that no matter how bad these sleepless nights get, they won’t be forever.
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