When IS the best time to drink coffee? A new study offers some insight.

You there, with the coffee. Yes, you.

Are you going to bed in less than three hours? Or did you just wake up less than three hours ago?

If you answered, "yes" to either question, put the caffeine down and back away slowly.


Don't worry! You can pick it up again later (this is a judgment-free zone). But if you're reading this anywhere close to your bedtime or not too long after waking up, you may want to push pause on the caffeine intake just until you get to the end of this.

I've got news for you about when the best time to drink coffee isn't ... and is.

Big scarf, big coffee, big fun, right? That is, until bedtime. Photo by iStock.

For the first time ever, researchers studied caffeine's effects on our circadian clock, and the results are striking.

Your internal body clock is known as your circadian clock. This clock is present in every aspect of your body. As sleep physiologist Kenneth Wright told NPR, "[your circadian clock] is in your fat cells; it's in your muscle cells. It's in your liver, for example, as well as in your brain."

Doing something that offsets your circadian clock isn't just, like, setting your alarm for p.m. one night by mistake. Messing with your internal sense of time, especially over a prolonged period of time, can have a real negative impact on your health.

Yeah, you might even want to rethink the caffeinated drinks several hours before going to bed. Photo by iStock.

It turns out consuming caffeine at night doesn't just keep you awake. It can completely reset your circadian clock.

Wright and a team of researchers conducted a 49-day sleep study in which participants were given various treatments three hours before bedtime: exposure to bright or dim light and a double espresso or a placebo.

Then, the team checked the participants' saliva for melatonin, a hormone that controls sleep and wake cycles. Melatonin surges through your system at bedtime, helping you drift off to dream land.

For participants who drank the double espresso, their melatonin surge was delayed by an average of 40 minutes.

"Raise your hand if you've been personally victimized by late-night caffeine." Photo by iStock.

40 minutes may not sound like much, but it's enough of a shift in your circadian clock that it could make it difficult to get out of bed the next morning and could affect your entire day.

We all have days like this every now and then without doing too much damage, but if every day feels like this, it might be because you're consuming caffeine too close to bedtime. And a consistent lack of sleep can wreak havoc on your immune system and make you more susceptible to colds and viruses.

And hopping aboard the caffeine train first thing in the morning might not be great for your circadian clock either.

Sorry to be the bearer of even more unfortunate research, but ... yeah. Sorry.

I know it's pretty and smells like productivity, but timing is everything. Photo by iStock.

You see, it's all about cortisol. Cortisol gets a bad rap as the "stress hormone" but it's also the hormone that controls your circadian clock. When your body releases it, you feel awake. Your cortisol levels are highest early in the morning.

Buuuuuut caffeine interferes with cortisol production, and if you're guzzling the good stuff early in the morning, your body learns to produce less cortisol and comes to rely on caffeine.

Photo by iStock.

Heavy caffeine intake (think five to six coffees or around 15 Diet Cokes a day) can lead to nervousness, muscle tremors, and insomnia.

So when *is* the best time to drink your coffee?

Because, oh yes, my friends, here's the good news: There are some benefits to drinking caffeinated drinks (especially coffee) in moderation.

The best time to indulge your caffeine habit is mid-morning, when cortisol production is down and, odds are, you're hours away from hitting the sack.

Yes, this post was a long con to use this stock photo. What's good? Photo by iStock.

Mid-morning! The perfect time to enjoy a cup o' joe with a diverse group of multigenerational friends! Or alone while you hide from your co-workers.

Like we said, judgment-free zone.

True

Some 75 years ago, in bombed-out Frankfurt, Germany, a little girl named Marlene Mahta received a sign of hope in the midst of squalor, homelessness and starvation. A CARE Package containing soap, milk powder, flour, blankets and other necessities provided a lifeline through the contributions of average American families. There were even luxuries like chocolate bars.

World War II may have ended, but its devastation lingered. Between 35 and 60 million people died. Whole cities had been destroyed, the countryside was charred and burned, and at least 60 million European civilians had been made homeless. Hunger remained an issue for many families for years to come. In the face of this devastation, 22 American organizations decided to come together and do something about it: creating CARE Packages for survivors.

"What affected me… was hearing that these were gifts from average American people," remembers Mahta, who, in those desperate days, found herself picking through garbage cans to find leftover field rations and MREs to eat. Inspired by the unexpected kindness, Mahta eventually learned English and emigrated to the U.S.

"I wanted to be like those wonderful, generous people," she says.

The postwar Marshall Plan era was a time of "great moral clarity," says Michelle Nunn, CEO of CARE, the global anti-poverty organization that emerged from those simple beginnings. "The CARE Package itself – in its simplicity and directness – continues to guide CARE's operational faith in the enduring power of local leadership – of simply giving people the opportunity to support their families and then their communities."

Each CARE Package contained rations that had once been reserved for soldiers, but were now being redirected to civilians who had suffered as a result of the conflict. The packages cost $10 to send, and they were guaranteed to arrive at their destination within four months.

Thousands of Americans, including President Harry S. Truman, got involved, and on May 11, 1946, the first 15,000 packages were sent to Le Havre in France, a port badly battered during the war.

Thousands of additional CARE Packages soon followed. At first packages were sent to specific recipients, but over time donations came in for anyone in need. When war rations ran out American companies began donating food. Later, carpentry tools, blankets, clothes, books, school supplies, and medicine were included.

Before long, the CARE Packages were going to other communities in need around the world, including Asia and Latin America. Ultimately, CARE delivered packages to 100 million families around the world.

The original CARE Packages were phased out in the late 1960s, though they were revived when specific needs arose, such as when former Soviet Union republics needed relief, or after the Bosnian War. Meanwhile, CARE transformed. Now, instead of physical boxes, it invests in programs for sustainable change, such as setting up nutrition centers, Village Savings and Loan Associations, educational programs, agroforestry initiatives, and much more.

But, with a pandemic ravaging populations around the world, CARE is bringing back its original CARE packages to support the critical basic needs of our global neighbors. And for the first time, they're also delivering CARE packages here at home in the United States to communities in need.

Community leaders like Janice Dixon are on the front lines of that effort. Dixon, president and CEO of Community Outreach in Action in Jonesboro, Ga., now sends up to 80 CARE packages each week to those in need due to COVID-19. Food pantries have been available, she notes, but they've been difficult to access for those without cars, and public transportation is spotty in suburban Atlanta.

"My phone has been ringing off the hook," says Dixon. For example, one of those calls was from a senior diabetic, she remembers, who faced an impossible choice, but was able to purchase medicine because food was being provided by CARE.

Today, CARE is sending new packages with financial support and messages of hope to frontline medical workers, caregivers, essential workers, and individuals in need in more than 60 countries, including the U.S. Anyone can now go to carepackage.org to send targeted help around the world. Packages focus on helping vaccines reach people more quickly, tackling food insecurity, educational disparities, global poverty, and domestic violence, as well as providing hygiene kits to those in need.

From the very beginning, CARE received the support of presidents, with Hollywood luminaries like Rita Hayworth and Ingrid Bergman also adding their voices. At An Evening With CARE, happening this Tuesday, May 11, notable names will turn out again as the organization celebrates the 75th Anniversary of the CARE Package and the exciting, meaningful work that lies ahead. The event will be hosted by Whoopi Goldberg and attended by former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Jimmy Carter, as well as Angela Merkel, Iman, Jewel, Michelle Williams, Katherine McPhee-Foster, Betty Who and others. Please RSVP now for this can't-miss opportunity.

Courtesy of CeraVe
True

"I love being a nurse because I have the honor of connecting with my patients during some of their best and some of their worst days and making a difference in their lives is among the most rewarding things that I can do in my own life" - Tenesia Richards, RN

From ushering new life into the world to holding the hand of a patient as they take their last breath, nurses are everyday heroes that deserve our respect and appreciation.

To give back to this community that is always giving so selflessly to others, CeraVe® put out a call to nurses to share their stories for a chance to be featured in Heroes Behind the Masks, a digital content series shining a light on nurses who go above and beyond to provide safe and quality care to patients and their communities.

First up: Tenesia Richards, a labor and delivery nurse working in New York City who, in addition to her regular job, started a community outreach program in a homeless shelter that houses expectant mothers for up to one year postpartum.

Tenesia | Heroes Behind the Masks presented by CeraVe www.youtube.com

Upon learning at a conference that black mothers in the U.S. die at three to four times the rate of white mothers, one of the widest of all racial disparities in women's health, Richards decided to take further action to help her community. She, along with a handful of fellow nurses, volunteered to provide antepartum, childbirth and postpartum education to the women living at the shelter. Additionally, they looked for other ways to boost the spirits of the residents, like throwing baby showers and bringing in guest speakers. When COVID-19 hit and in-person gatherings were no longer possible, Richards and her team found creative workarounds and created holiday care packages for the mothers instead.

Keep Reading Show less