What time should you stop drinking coffee? It’s earlier than you think…

When to stop drinking coffee for a good night’s sleep, science says

When should you stop drinking coffee? sleep & wellness tips
(Image credit: T'Amal / Unsplash)

Who doesn’t love a good cup of joe? Many of us can’t properly focus without a cup of coffee in the morning and need another one (or two!) to get over the mid-afternoon slump. But, if you’re drinking multiple cups a day and find you’re getting a restless night’s sleep, it could be time to put down the grounds and step away from the best coffee maker (opens in new tab).

While it might seem like having a risky 4pm coffee isn’t that big of a deal, you should be avoiding caffeine at a specific time of day, according to science. But when? In general, there’s many conflicting studies and sources about caffeine.

For example, Mayo Clinic (opens in new tab) found that despite caffeine’s benefits, coffee can raise blood pressure and increase cholesterol levels. In comparison, we found research that found three cups of coffee a day is good for heart health (opens in new tab), so you can never be 100% sure… which is why we’ve done some digging.

To make sure you’re getting the caffeine kick you need but still getting a good night’s sleep at the end of the day, we’ve found the best time of day that you should stop drinking coffee, plus when you should have your first cup.

The exact time of day you should stop drinking coffee

According to multiple studies, caffeine can disrupt your sleep up to six hours after consuming it. This can lead to people losing an hour or more of rest a night. Due to this, many health experts believe that you should stop drinking coffee after 3pm.

Between 2 - 3pm is the window that you should use to consume your last cup of caffeinated tea or coffee, so by 9pm, you should be feeling sleepy and getting ready to turn in for the night. The same can be said for energy drinks and sodas.

Having a late night coffee can not only disrupt your sleep cycle and disturb your body clock, but having too many cups can massively impact your health. Aside from bad sleep or the ‘jitters’, if you drink more than 4 cups of coffee a day, you could experience side effects like headaches, muscle tremors, a faster heartbeat, anxiousness, dizziness and frequent urination, says a nutrition and healthy eating study from Mayo Clinic (opens in new tab).

Coffee

(Image credit: Gaelle Marcel / Unsplash)

What time should you have your first coffee?

Further studies have shown when is the best time to have your first cup of coffee in the day. Many coffee or tea drinkers will have their first cup within an hour of waking up in the morning which isn’t great for the body or your overall productivity and focus.

The main reason for this is because caffeine can affect your cortisol levels aka your stress hormones. In an article written by The Independent (opens in new tab), when your body releases cortisol, you feel more awake. By consuming coffee after you’ve woken up, this interferes with cortisol production and means your body relies on caffeine rather than your body’s natural hormones.

Instead of drinking coffee early in the morning, you should be drinking it when your body is producing less cortisol which is about 3 - 4 hours after waking up. So, if you wake up around 7am, you should be drinking your first cup of tea or coffee at 10am.

If you’re worried about your daily coffee intake, check out our guide on how to curb your caffeine addiction (opens in new tab).

Bethan Girdler-Maslen
Acting Wellness Editor & Deals Writer

As T3's resident Shopping Expert and Deals Writer, Beth covers deals, discount codes, how to save money and seasonal holidays, including Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Amazon Prime Day, Boxing Day and Easter sales. Alongside her primary focus of deals, Beth is currently Acting Wellness Editor, covering all things sleep, yoga, relaxation and general wellbeing.


Having always been passionate about writing, she’s written for websites, newspapers and magazines on a variety of topics, from jewellery and culture, to food and telecoms. You can find her work across numerous sites, including Wedding Ideas Magazine, Health & Wellbeing, The Bristol Post, Fashion & Style Directory and more. In her spare time, Beth enjoys running, reading, baking and attempting DIY craft projects that will probably end in disaster!