The Best Time to Drink Your Morning Coffee after a Bad Night's Sleep, per Study

If you've slept badly, you might have to skip that strong black coffee on an empty stomach the next morning.
Fabienne Lang

You've had a rough night's sleep and the only thing you can think straight about is making a really strong cup of black coffee. You feel like you're craving that caffeine, but it turns out that waiting a little bit longer might be the best thing to do for your body's metabolism. 

Researchers from the Centre for Nutrition, Exercise & Metabolism at the University of Bath in the U.K. have uncovered how drinking coffee first thing in the morning after a bad's night sleep may do more harm than good to your metabolism. 

The findings were published in the British Journal of Nutrition.


Don't drink coffee before breakfast

One night of bad sleep won't do huge harm to your metabolic system, as the study suggests, but drinking a cup of coffee straight after you wake up may do just that. 

Keeping our blood sugar levels controlled is what helps us keep certain conditions at bay, such as diabetes and heart disease. However, the new study showed that drinking coffee as the first thing you do after a disrupted night's sleep may have negative effects on your blood sugar levels. 

The team conducted a survey on 29 healthy male and female participants, which saw the latter undergo three different experiments. As the study explained:

  • "In one, condition participants had a normal night’s sleep and were asked to consume a sugary drink on waking in the morning.
  • On another occasion, participants experienced a disrupted night’s sleep (where the researchers woke them every hour for five minutes) and then upon waking were given the same sugary drink.
  • On another, participants experienced the same sleep disruption (i.e. being woken throughout the night ) but this time were first given a strong black coffee 30 minutes before consuming the sugary drink."

Blood samples were then collected after the glucose drink was taken, which mirrors the calorific intake of a regular breakfast.

"These results show that one night of disrupted sleep alone did not worsen participants’ blood glucose/insulin response to the sugary drink compared to a normal night of sleep which will be reassuring to many of us," said Harry Smith, lead author of the study.

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"However, starting a day after a poor night’s sleep with a strong coffee did have a negative effect on glucose metabolism by around 50%," continued Smith.

"We might improve this by eating first and then drinking coffee later if we feel we still feel need it. Knowing this can have important health benefits for us all," explained Professor James Betts, who oversaw the study. 

The team plans on carrying out further studies on how sleep affects our metabolism, and, for instance, how exercise may help to counter negative sleep disruption effects on our metabolic system.

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