The habit of drinking a cup of coffee as soon as you open your eyes has recently gained a bad reputation. Fortunately, no one is saying that you should completely give up your morning coffee, just that it may be better to wait a while before drinking your first cup.
There are many demonstrable benefits of coffee consumption. Firstly, a widely recognised and obvious benefit is that the caffeine it contains helps us to stay more alert. While this effect may not be enough to completely counteract the effects of sleep deprivation on cognitive function, it can help you focus when you need a pick-me-up, such as during a long car journey.
Also, brewing a fresh cup of coffee can be a relaxing and calming ritual that can fill a much-needed void in our lives. A recent study found that the aroma of coffee alone had a stress-relieving effect on patients undergoing dental treatment. There is also some evidence that coffee may be protective against diseases such as Alzheimer’s and type 2 diabetes, and there is certainly enough to warrant further research.
However, despite all this, there are some people who should avoid coffee. For example, excessive caffeine consumption during pregnancy is not recommended by health experts. Some people with digestive problems, such as irritable bowel syndrome or gastroesophageal reflux disease, may find that their symptoms are easier to manage when they avoid coffee, but again, there is no conclusive research in this area yet, and this may be at least partly down to personal preference.
Why does morning coffee have a bad reputation?
One of the biggest factors why the first coffee of the day gets a bad reputation is hydration. Caffeine has a diuretic effect, meaning it causes you to urinate more. The water in coffee contributes to your daily fluid intake, so it is not correct to say that coffee “leads to dehydration”, especially in people who are very used to drinking coffee.
However, plain water is arguably the best way to avoid dehydration. While you don’t need to worry about reaching the critical target of two litres a day, it might not be such a bad idea to start your day with a glass of water before your morning coffee.
Another thing that anti-coffee people will mention is its known effect on stress hormones through the release of the hormone cortisol. Coffee stimulates the production of cortisol, which is already at its highest level when we wake up, but this effect seems to be reduced in regular coffee drinkers.
Still, if you are drinking a heavy cup (or two) of coffee as soon as you open your eyes, you may not be getting the full benefit of this caffeine, so it may be better to wait a little longer in your morning routine and drink your coffee when the cortisol drop begins.