Study shows best time for morning coffee (and few health bonuses)

A study at the University of Bath (UK) found that a poor night’s sleep is far better served by food first, then coffee. This is in contrast with the tendency of many coffee drinkers to begin their day with a cup of coffee before any sort of food intake, the sleepier the blacker. Coffee, while still safe to drink in most cases, can affect the way a person is able to metabolize sugar throughout the day. This is only the most recent in an enticing line of coffee studies that’ve been published over the past couple of years – let’s take a peek!

The research came from the Centre for Nutrition, Exercise & Metabolism at the University of Bath. In the study, researchers explored the effects of morning coffee on humans after a single night of broken sleep. To do this, they worked with a group of 29 healthy women and men in a series of three overnight experiments.

There is good news: “These results show that one night of disrupted sleep alone did not worsen participants’ blood glucose/insulin response to the sugary drink compared to a normal night of sleep which will be reassuring to many of us,” said lead researcher Harry Smith from the Department of Health at Bath.

“However, starting a day after a poor night’s sleep with a strong coffee did have a negative effect on glucose metabolism by around 50%,” said Smith. “As such, individuals should try to balance the potential stimulating benefits of caffeinated coffee in the morning with the potential for higher blood glucose levels and it may be better to consume coffee following breakfast rather than before.

In short: fragmented sleep over a single night does not alter glycaemic or insulinaemic responses to morning glucose ingestion (in any significant way). Drinking a “strong caffeinated coffee” can be expected to summon a significant glucose tolerance. Drink a big cup of coffee THEN eat a donut and you’ll be in for a real rollercoaster ride, to be sure.

For more information on the research referenced above, take a peek at the paper Glucose control upon waking is unaffected by hourly sleep fragmentation during the night, but is impaired by morning caffeinated coffee as authored by Harry A. Smith, Aaron Hengist, Joel Thomas, Jean-Philippe Walhin, Philippa Heath, Oliver Perkin, Yung-Chih Chen, Javier T. Gonzalez, and James A. Betts. This paper can be found with code DOI:10.1017/S0007114520001865 as published online by Cambridge University Press.

If you head back to a study published in August of 2019, you’ll find more coffee and caffeine action. There we found that there is a recommended limit for coffee drinkers that also suffer migraines. Another study in June of 2019 found that drinking coffee may stimulate calorie-burning brown fat, which could be good for all.

In April of 2020 we found that the bitterness of coffee can enhance the taste of desserts and other sweet treats. If you’re looking for gut health and disease prevention, coffee might be a key to a healthier future for you. Take that into consideration right alongside a coffee cancer study that had good news for daily coffee drinkers back in July of 2019.

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