Coffee or Sunlight? Which is Better to Wake Up To?

Sometimes waking up is hard, especially when you struggled to sleep the night before. You may reach for the coffee before you even shower, hoping to get a jolt of energy. Or you may open the blinds and soak in the sunlight, letting your energy rise naturally. Which choice is best?

Thoughts on Coffee
The cortisol hormone is typically at its maximum right after you get up in the morning. Some scientists advise waiting to consume your morning coffee until your natural morning cortisol levels have started to decline because cortisol levels are closely tied to how alert you are. Our cortisol levels peak, on average, between 8 and 9 am for most of us who work a 9–5 job and receive normal sleep. You shouldn’t require a strong cup of coffee or tea to wake up in the morning if you had a well-rested night. You should be able to ride the cortisol high right through midday.

You can also build up a tolerance to caffeine if you drink your morning coffee while your cortisol concentration is at its greatest because you are already at your highest level of alertness during the day. You should wait until your cortisol levels start to fall between 9:30 and 11:30 am before having your first cup of coffee.

Thoughts on the Sun
Spending more time in the sun can help you sleep better at night. Not only that, but when you do wake, opening the curtains to let the sun in or stepping out onto the patio to watch the sunrise naturally boosts your energy to get a great start to the day.

The sun and the moon are connected to our circadian rhythm. Our bodies naturally know when you sleep and when to wake. Unfortunately, that rhythm is disrupted by everyday stressors, staying up too late, artificial lighting, and myriad other issues.
The easiest way to reset that rhythm and get back on the right track is to spend more time in the sun, starting when you get up.

Doing so allows us to reset our clock. A 2011 study concluded that morning light comprises UV-A and IR-A (infrared light that the human eye cannot see). Exposure to this spectrum of light in the morning wakes up your body’s cells and helps with energy production, dopamine production, and an overall sense of well-being.

It seems that both sun and coffee can assist you in boosting your energy and powering through the morning, but the best one-two punch might be sun first, coffee second.