To find out when exactly when to put down the mug, I turned CEO and co-founder of FitnessGenes Dan Reardon, MD, who has studied how coffee affects different people. “The speed at which you metabolize caffeine creates a natural cut off point through the day,” he says. “Whereas a fast metabolizer might clear 100-200 milligrams—what’s in a typical cup of coffee—in just a few hours, it might take a slow metabolizer 12-hours plus, which could impact sleep.”
If you’re a fast coffee metabolizer, Dr. Reardon recommends having your last cup by 5 p.m. (Sorry, coffee isn’t recommended for anyone much later.) “Let’s not forget that even for a fast metabolizer of caffeine, there could still be a cumulative effect of drinking lots of coffee early in the day, which could slow down the rate at which they break down their caffeine later,” he says. If you are a fast metabolizer who enjoys multiple cups a day, he says, cut yourself off by lunchtime so your body has time to process it all. Otherwise, you could have trouble sleeping.
If you’re a slow coffee metabolizer, Dr. Reardon says your cut-off time should be earlier, between 12 p.m. and 2 p.m., as it can often take the body a good eight hours to completely metabolize the caffeine in a cup of coffee. “I would also recommend that people pay attention to there consumption of other caffeine containing products such as energy drinks, pre-workout drinks, and fat burners,” says Dr. Reardon.
Your coffee habit isn’t the only factor that plays into your sleep habits—not by a long shot. But keep the cut-off rule in mind and you’re a lot more likely to wake up refreshed and, well, ready for your morning cup.
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