It's going to be another rainy day today...and tomorrow and the next day...hey! This September is like a sequel...it's Rainy Season:Part 2! Ha ha! But...here is some shocking news! We may actually see the sun next Friday! I suppose it's good news, right? We can actually look forward to seeing the sun, but it's still a week away...(and there's a typhoon that's coming around Wednesday as well).
Don't get us wrong: We love coffee. It's our one vice that actually happens to be pretty healthy—loads of research links it to perks like reduced risk of dementia, increased metabolism, and reduced risk of skin cancer. And then, of course, there's its awesome energizing effect that fires us up in the morning and helps us pull through countless mid-afternoon energy slumps.
But it would be irresponsible to only highlight the good stuff. Research shows that in certain situations, you might want to avoid it—or at least scale back—to avoid a range of side effects from increased anxiety to cancer to exhaustion (yep, even despite the caffeine).
Here are 4 times when you should re-think your coffee drinking habits:
When your brew is way too hot!
If you like to sip your coffee as soon as it's done brewing, you may want to cool it—literally. Consuming hot drinks above 149ºF (or 65C) may increase the risk of esophageal cancer, according to a new report from the World Health Organization. That's a bummer, considering that most restaurants and cafes serve coffee between 145 and 175ºF. If you brew at home, you're not in the clear either—home coffeemakers typically brew at 185ºF. Adding a splash of milk or cream can lower the temperature, but by only 5 degrees. The best solution? Be patient. A cup of black coffee typically needs about 5 minutes to cool to a safe-sipping temp of 149ºF. Or if you can't wait, add a splash of cold water to your coffee.
If you're prone to anxiety
If you're feeling on edge, downing cup after cup of joe could be partly to blame. Caffeine has a stimulant effect on the nervous system—it causes a release of the stress hormone cortisol, triggering our "fight or flight" response, and has been shown to exacerbate anxiety and sleep problems, particularly in those with panic disorders and social anxiety. To lessen caffeine's influence, consider scaling back to one or two cups of coffee per day or sipping on a half-decaf half-caffeinated blend, and cutting yourself off about 6 hours before bed.
When you're seriously starved for sleep
Coffee may seem like the natural solution for a night of subpar sleep—and it can be, but only to a point. New research finds that caffeine stops being effective at improving alertness whenever you get less than 5 hours of sleep for 3 consecutive nights. The reason: So little sleep causes such a steep decline in mental performance that no amount of caffeine can overcome it. If you can't seem to get least 7 hours of shut-eye per night, skip the coffee altogether and take a 20-minute nap when energy levels dip, which research shows can help you overcome symptoms of sleep deprivation and improve alertness better than caffeine.
When you drink a cup at the crack of dawn
Pounding a coffee at 6 AM isn't doing your energy levels any favors. That's because in the first couple hours after waking, your levels of the stress hormone cortisol are at their highest, which actually gives you a natural energy boost. So, many experts agree that the best time to have your first cup is sometime between 10 AM and 12 PM, when cortisol levels start to dip. That way, you'll be taking advantage of your body's natural high, and saving that hit of caffeine for when you really need it. If you do drink your first cup super early, chances are you may just need another one a couple hours later to keep the momentum going—and depending on your personal health history, more coffee may not be a good thing. For individuals who have difficulty controlling conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, and gastroesophageal reflux disease, the cons of excess coffee may outweigh the pros.