Get up and drink some coffee. Go to work and drink coffee. Drink coffee in the afternoon slump. Post-work event, drink coffee. Your morning cup of coffee or tea is essential if you want to stay awake and alert.
Many caffeine addicts may be surprised to discover that their current way of consuming caffeine could actually reducing their productivity rather than increasing it.
What about tea? Is it better than coffee?
Comparing the caffeine content of different beverages will reveal which one wins. Green tea has 25mg caffeine and black tea has 42mg. A cup of brewed coffee has 108mg. Coffee is the best choice for energy.
The way caffeine works is bound to give you a crash, unless you are a superhuman who can chug huge amounts of coffee without consequences.
Caffeine quickly stimulates your central nervous system, reduces your physical fatigue, and restores alertness when you feel drowsy. It helps you focus better, and it boosts your creativity, and cognitive functions in general. This gives you a boost in productivity.
Naturally, what goes up must also go down. When caffeine is cleared from your body, you might experience a caffeine crash. However, the crash you experience from green tea, for instance, is much smaller than the coffee crash. This is because tea contains L-theanine. L-Theanine is a nootropic, that flattens out the productivity boost but it removes the crash as well.
These facts will allow us to devise a plan for making coffee more effective. Let’s see what we can do to avoid the crash, and improve the productivity boost we get from caffeine.
We mentioned L-theanine, but L-theanine is only one compound that can complement the effects of caffeine. There are dozens of other natural compounds that can be added to coffee in a combo that biohackers call caffeine stack, and the market calls nootropic coffee.
Do Not Drink Your Coffee First thing in the Morning
Your body releases cortisol to try to wake you up. This hormone is also known as the “stress hormone.”
Let’s make this clear: Caffeine is not good for the body if cortisol levels are high.
So then, you should drink your first cup of coffee between 9:30 and 10:00 AM. Cortisol levels in most people are at their highest between 8 and 9 AM.
If you need to drink coffee first thing in the morning, have some water alongside it. Water is better than water for sustaining focus and energy, especially after going without water for eight hours straight during the sleep. Drinking water with your coffee helps you focus better.
Don’t Drink Coffee on an Empty Stomach
Coffee drunk on an empty stomach stimulates hydrochloric acid production, which isn’t good, if you don’t eat. Hydrochloric acid should only be produced for the purpose of digesting meals. This can make it harder for your body later to digest large meals. It is however acceptable to drink coffee on an empty stomach if you had a heavy meal the day before, and that meal didn’t get completely digested.
Don’t wait too long for your second cup of coffee
Our biological clock doesn’t make us feel tired. The brain slows down when there is a buildup of adenosine molecules. This can cause you to feel tired or sleepy.
Caffeine doesn’t actually give you an energy boost but it does prevent your energy going down because of adenosine-induced sleepiness.
The problem with caffeine is that if you wait until you feel tired, it’s already late to drink your coffee. So the best way to drink coffee, is preemptively.
Many people’s energy levels drop right after lunch. So we recommend drinking coffee or another caffeinated beverage 30 minutes before the crash, maybe after lunch.
Drink Your Coffee Slowly
Slowly consuming your coffee for a longer time will help your body release more caffeine than if you drink it all at once. Slowly consuming caffeine will slow down the process and your body won’t crash as much.
Resist the urge to chug your coffee while it’s piping hot. The common advice we’ve heard from many so called coffee specialists is that coffee is only good hot. Coffee is great even when it cooled off, if anything is more enjoyable colder than too hot. Your taste buds cannot distinguish taste when the beverage is too hot anyway.
You will eventually reach that point in your day, when you just start to nod off. When this happens, I suggest you let your body become tired and take a 15-minute nap.
A productivity hack is to get a cup of coffee just before the nap. Caffeine can take a while before it is absorbed into your bloodstream, so it will reach the brain just when you wake up. You feel fresh, recharged and ready to go. I personally don’t do this, because my lowest energy point is too late in the day for coffee, but if your sleepiness kicks in early afternoon, it’s perfect for this technique.
Have a Cup of Tea in the Afternoon, Instead of Coffee
A great option to get caffeinated in the afternoon is green tea instead of coffee.
Tea has lower amounts of caffeine, and the caffeine absorption is slower, keeping the energy levels steady and consistent throughout the afternoon. This avoids the energy spikes and valleys from coffee.
The biohacking alternative to drinking tea, is to combine your coffee with L-theanine. L-Theanine is naturally found in tea, and it is responsible for the slow and balanced way caffeine acts on your body after a cup of tea.
If you combine coffee and L-theanine, you will reap the benefits of both worlds. As we suggested at the beginning of this article, you can get creative with your nootropic stack. A particular interesting blend is the Early Bird Morning Cocktail, which goes beyond the typical nootropic blend, adding hydration, adaptogens, and antioxidants for a complete drink from every aspect.
Time your last drink
Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky, New York Times bestselling authors of Sprint, a simple 4-step system for improving focus, remind us to time our last caffeinated drink of the day. They point out that caffeine has a half-life of five to six hours. This means that even if you have coffee at 4 p.m., only half of it will be gone by 9 or 10. You don’t want to be wired at 10:00 P.M.
You have to experiment to find your unique ‘last call for caffeine’, but if your sleep problems persist, it might be sooner than you think.