Welcome to the next post in my Boost Health Awareness mini-series, part of the Looking-Glass Translations productivity programme!

It’s no secret that most business owners love coffee.

And despite the importance of sleep, rest and relaxation to you and your business, you’re bound to find yourself in need of a boost from time to time  after all, you’re a busy person, and running a successful business can take a lot out of you. When the coffee beans call and you can’t go snooze, here’s how to get the most out of your caffeine fix.

 

The trick is to take advantage of your body’s natural energy levels.

Studies show that our most alert hours of the day are the two hours that start one hour after waking  so if you wake up at 7 am, for instance, your optimum productivity window is going to be between around 8 am and 10 am. This is when your natural cortisol levels spike, meaning your body is ‘naturally caffeinating’ at its best. If you slept poorly the night before, this window is the only genuinely wakeful time you’re going to have to get things done, so you need to make the most of it and get the difficult tasks done first.

 

This is not the time to drink coffee!

Drinking a stimulant when you’re already at your most alert is relatively pointless; in fact, you’re just helping to build your caffeine tolerance faster, meaning coffee will be less effective when you really need it. Instead, it’s better to wait until your natural cortisol levels drop  when you’ll be feeling sluggish and sleepy again.

 

Coffee takes around 20 to 30 minutes to act on your system.

So try drinking your coffee around half hour before your personal window closes to ride the energy wave to productivity bliss. As an example, this means that someone waking at 7 am should aim to drink their coffee at around 9.30 am to maximise its effects. The same applies to other windows throughout the day; cortisol also spikes between noon and 1 pm, and 5.30 pm and 6.30 pm. Personally, I tend to drink my first coffee at around 10.30 am (not an early riser and not sorry).

 

If you’re really struggling, it may sometimes be worth just biting the bullet.

One of the best things about being freelancers and business owners is that we have (marginally) more flexibility in our schedules than other workers – so if you’re nodding off and you haven’t got anything pressing to do, go have a power nap to recharge your batteries (10-20 minutes is best); you’ll be much more productive afterwards and it will help boost your focus until bedtime.

If you know you need to be up for a long while yet, drink a coffee before getting your head down for 15-20 mins – that way, you’ll start to feel the effects just as you wake up. Be careful though: if you sleep through your alarm, you risk waking up feeling even groggier than you were to start with when the caffeine kicks in.

Naps should also only be used as a last-resort for the truly sleep-deprived; needing regular naps is just a sign that you aren’t getting nearly enough sleep. What’s more, frequent or poorly planned napping can have a negative effect on your entire sleep cycle, which will just start a vicious circle of caffeine and nap dependence with serious consequences for your health.

 

Fumbling around for more tips?

You can learn more about the dos and don’ts of productive caffeine consumption by following the links below:

 

What’s your favourite coffee and when do you drink yours? Alternatively, have you discovered the benefits of a life without coffee *gasp*? Please share your experiences in the comments!

 

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