Caffeine, large meals, and bright light in the evening induce circadian misalignment. That’s why these are better suited earlier in the day.
Caffeine reduces sleep pressure (which is supposed to start low in the morning and peak shortly after sunset) and delays melatonin onset (Burke et al., 2015). After dinner, make it a decaf or just pass.
Caffeine is an adenosine antagonist, and the accumulation of adenosine in the brain throughout the day is thought to be a chemical mediator of sleep pressure. Caffeine also delays and reduces melatonin, which increases your sleep needs, or at least time in bed/darkness.
It’s a circadian phase delay, and in today’s modern #context, most of us should be stacking the deck in the opposite direction. Fight against the niceties of technology and convenience. Assist sunset with blue blockers. Help co-entrain peripheral circadian rhythms with the master clock & light in the morning with breakfast. Get all these things right and you may even stop craving coffee in the morning *GASP*
KNOW THY ENEMY
Coffee is cool and all, and has been associated with a ton of health benefits, but in the grand scheme of things I’d say the most valuable benefit of coffee would be in helping to set the clock to a new time zone, like in jet lag (social or otherwise). In this #context, coffee may be thought of as assisting sunlight in dopamine signaling (eg, Zheng et al., 2014 and Volkow et al., 2015)… but after a few days with your other circadian behaviors in order, I think you’ll find you need it less and less (it’s said to take one day to adapt for every hour of time zone shift, but I think we can do better).
By no means am I discouraging coffee. I love the stuff, and as mentioned above, it’s associated with loads of health benefits.
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