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Why social media is spruiking ‘caffeine delay’

If you're still blinking the sleep out of your eyes, put the coffee mug down.

If you're still blinking the sleep out of your eyes, put the coffee mug down. Photo: TikTok/@liv.ingwell/@akliftzz/@mike.linares0

Morning coffee is on the out with many social media users, who claim there are many health benefits to delaying your first caffeine hit of the day.

Instead, people are being encouraged to only have their first cup of coffee between 90 and 120 minutes after they wake up.

The idea of ‘caffeine delay’ appears to have been popularised by Andrew Huberman, an American neuroscientist and wellness influencer recently embroiled in a romance scandal,

In a 2022 Instagram post, Huberman wrote while morning coffee drinkers might feel an initial energy lift, they would crash by afternoon.

Having coffee in the afternoon to fix the energy downturn would then disrupt sleep.

“The longer we are awake the more the molecule adenosine builds up in our brain and body, the result of which is to make us sleepy,” he wrote.

“When we wake up in the morning, adenosine levels are at an all-time low, but they are not zero.

“Caffeine is an adenosine antagonist but somewhat surprisingly ingesting caffeine right after waking prevents clearance of the remaining adenosine.”

But in 2023, Huberman clarified the advice was primarily meant for people who “have a tendency to energy crash in the afternoon”.

In general, scientists appear to agree it could be worth waiting longer to have your first coffee of the day, although for varying reasons.

Michael Grandner, director of University of Arizona’s sleep and health research program told The New York Times a morning dose of caffeine could do you a world of good if you need a quick hit of energy to get going.

But he said you get “less bang for your buck” if you drink coffee when your adenosine levels are low directly after sleeping.

University of Southampton research also appears to show having multiple cups of coffee a day could be good for your health.

For some health conditions, drinking three to four cups of coffee per day seemed to be most beneficial, University of Southampton specialist registrar in public health Robin Poole wrote for The Conversation.

This included lower risk of death from any causes, as well as developing heart disease, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, gallstones, renal stones, gout, some types of cancer, Parkinson’s disease, and liver diseases.

Other research has found improvements between 2 per cent to 16 per cent in sports performance following caffeine intake, improving people’s ability to run and cycle for longer periods, and allowing them to perform more repetitions with a given weight at the gym.

Topics: Coffee
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