Ah, coffee. Ask anyone who knows me, and they will tell you I cannot function (nor do I want to) until I’ve had my coffee. While most people agree with this mindset, for me it has nothing to do with my energy level. In fact, coffee/caffeine doesn’t seem to do much for me as far as that is concerned. In fact, I had three cups of coffee yesterday and was still able to take a nap. Then I woke up and had more! Most people would have been bouncing off the walls, but not me. To be honest, I envy people who have a cup of coffee and are as hyper as a toddler who just ate an entire cake. So how come some people drink coffee and experience productivity and the feeling of being alert, and others are just as tired and irritable after a cup (or three) as before they had any? It turns out it might not be the coffee or the type of caffeine, but rather when you’re enjoying that java.
I’ve heard before that having a cup of coffee right before a nap is the best way to get that boost of energy because the nap gives your body enough time to really take in the caffeine. Therefore, when you wake up, you’re energetic and ready to face the rest of your day. It never really made a ton of sense to me, but after learning more about chronotypes, it seems there may be something to that advice after all.
Chronotypes and You
A chronoytype refers to the behavior you exhibit due to your circadian rhythm. It essentially determines when you need to sleep at any given time in a 24-hour period.  I took this quiz to figure out my chronotype and it was eye-opening. As chronotypes go, I’m a lion. I’m up early, energetic and sharpest in the morning. I don’t take big risks and I focus more on getting goals accomplished. Completing tasks gives me a huge sense of accomplishment. Just like a real lion, I do my best work earlier in the day (between 10 and 12) and I should snack around 9am and wait to eat lunch until after 12. While often times online quizzes can seem a little off, this one is right on the money.
Michael J. Breus, Ph.D. and clinical psychologist specializes in sleep disorders. His book, The Power of When, breaks down the four different chronotypes (Dolphin, Lion, Bear, Wolf) based on morning and evening preferences. The book helps readers understand when they should do everything from running a mile to asking for a raise.
Now real Lions may not drink coffee, but as far as chronotypes go, I should enjoy my cup of joe around 8am to 10am and my afternoon cup around 2 or 4. Dr. Breus, the creator of the Chronotype system says, “If you wake up and put coffee, which is a diuretic, in your system, it will just make you more dehydrated. Plus, when you wake up, your level of cortisol is naturally very high. So essentially you’re just putting a not-so-effective stimulant on top of a very effective one. You want to save your coffee for when you start to slow down. 
Coffee and Chronotypes explained
We discussed how lions should enjoy their coffee earlier, but what about the other three types? Dr. Breus’ book goes into extreme detail, but the following can give you an idea of how each type is different.
When it comes to getting caffeinated, Breus says the worst time to have coffee is within two hours of waking and within six hours of bedtime. When you’re sleeping, you breathe out the equivalent of a liter of water. No matter which Chronotype you are, the first beverage you should reach for is H20. And speaking of waking up, there’s an ideal time for that as well.
Dolphins should enjoy their coffee between 8:30-11am or 1-2pm and wake up at 6:30am.
Bears should pour their cup from 9:30-11:30 or 1:30-3:30 and wake up at 7am.
Wolves can sip on their coffee of choice between 12pm and 2pm only and should start their day at 7:30am sharp.
And of course, us lions can drink coffee from 8-10am and 2-4pm. We get the earliest starts to the day at 5:30-6am.
Some of you may be calculating how early you’re going to have to go to bed now if you’re supposed to get up at that time and wait for coffee. But don’t worry, Breus has figured out when you should go to sleep, too!
“The eight-hour rule is a myth. Most people can get by fine on seven hours of sleep, while dolphins can function with six. What’s most important is consistency and making sure you start mentally preparing for bed (by turning off all screens, winding down, relaxing) a full hour before actually climbing into bed. You shouldn’t get into bed for any reason except for sleep and sex. That will help your mind associate ‘bed’ with ‘sleep.'”
Dolphins should sleep as close to 11:30pm as possible, while lions need to hit the hay at 10pm. Wolves get to stay up until midnight and bears need to start snoozing at 11.
Coffee overload is still dangerous
If you’re like me, you’re feeling inspired to start some new routines with this knowledge, but remember to listen to your body. If you have certain health conditions or medications that make caffeine intake dangerous, don’t go against your doctor’s knowledge because of your chronotype. Instead, adjust your habits accordingly. Maybe you can’t have coffee, or as much as you’d like, but you can still change what time you go to bed and when you wake up. The book is filled with when to do just about everything, so feel free to grab a copy if you’re feeling inspired!
Share your chronotype with us. In the meantime, I’m off to get a cappuccino!
The effects coffee has on your health
Coffee is delicious, helpful and depending on where you purchase it, an art form! But what is it doing for your body aside from hopefully energizing it?
Coffee Fights Cancer
At one point in time, coffee had a bad reputation for potentially being a carcinogenic. Thankfully, this myth has been busted. In fact, the World Health Organization has determined there’s a 15% reduced risk of liver cancer for each cup of coffee consumed per day. 
Coffee can reverse liver-damage
I love a craft cocktail as much as I love a beautifully crafted cup of coffee. Thankfully, drinking coffee may reduce the kind of liver damage over-indulging in alcohol can cause. A recent study found that drinking two additional cups of coffee a day lowered the risk of liver cirrhosis by about 44%!
Coffee burns fat
Remember, we’re talking about real coffee here, not a thousand calorie frappucino from your favorite coffee chain! A 2013 study found that drinking coffee before physical activity like a workout helps your body burn more fat.
Coffee helps your recover faster, post-gym
Feeling sore after a workout can provide a great sense of accomplishment. But when you’re so sore you can barely get out of bed, it’s time for coffee! Another 2013 study found that muscle soreness was lessened by ingesting coffee an hour before working out.
Coffee boosts your endurance
Multiple studies have shown that coffee consumption can help you work out for longer periods of time with better results!
Coffee improves memory
A 2014 study proved that coffee can help you recall details more easily and even enhance the brain’s ability to create long-term memories! Just one strong cup a day can help your memory retention.
Coffee can boost your mood
Drinking coffee may be just as good as drinking an anti-depressant! A 2013 study found that coffee drinkers were less likely to commit suicide or have suicidal tendencies.
Featured photo credit: Chevanon via stocksnap.io
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