(NC) – If you're like many Canadians, caffeine consumption is part of your morning ritual. Whether it's consumed out of habit or necessity, it seems to awaken the senses and get us going.
But before you go for a coffee run, or grab a can of Red Bull in the morning, you may want to take a peek at your watch. Why? Because you may not be getting the fuel your engine needs at the optimal time.
Enter the fascinating world of pharmachronology.
As explained by Steve Miller on his NeuroscienceDC blog, pharmachronoloy is defined as the study of the interaction of biological rhythms and drug action. One of the most important biological rhythms is our circadian clock, which determines when we are ready to eat, sleep and be active.
Without being too technical, the part of the brain that controls this 24-hour internal cycle produces cortisol (better known as the “stress” hormone) which is extremely important with respect to alertness.
According to an article published in 2009 by The Journal of Clinical E-endocrinology and Metabolism, it turns out cortisol peaks on average between 8 and 9 a.m., which means that many of us are consuming caffeine at a time when we're reaching our highest level of alertness naturally.
While cortisol levels are at their highest at that time, there are other periods of the day, namely between noon and 1 p.m., as well as between 5:30 and 6:30 p.m., where blood levels – on average – spike again.
So what's the sweet spot to have your first jolt of caffeine in the morning? Try anywhere between 9:30 and 11:30. If you're still dragging by the afternoon, another quick pick-me-up between 1:30 and 5:00 should help get even the most tired folks through to the end of the work day.