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What Is Your Personal Chronotype And How It Tells When is Your Best Time To Drink Coffee?

What Is Your Personal Chronotype And How It Tells When is Your Best Time To Drink Coffee?

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. [1] 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. [2]

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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.

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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!

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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. [3]

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.

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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

Reference

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Heather Poole

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Last Updated on July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

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