Is this morning habit fueling or depleting you?

Want to up your energy, motivation, belief in your abilities, and general sense of well-being?

I thought you might.

One of the key indicators of how motivated, energized and happy you are, is your dopamine level. Dopamine is a neuromodulator that affects all of that and more.

A depletion of dopamine can be devastating. You can lack energy, motivation and sex drive. You might be moody and anxious, maybe even depressed. You have trouble sleeping and concentrating.

People with higher levels of dopamine are more energized, ambitious, and feel better about themselves. 

Dopamine is produced in your adrenal glands and released from your brain. Once it’s released it has to go somewhere.  It goes to your dopamine receptors where it can be used to light your fire, lift your mood and make you feel better.

There are many ways to optimize your dopamine that I share with my clients who are feeling sluggish and having trouble getting unstuck, and also with those who are over-driven and pushing themselves into burnout.

A morning coffee is one of those ways.

Coffee increases your dopamine receptors and makes them work more effectively, so they’ll pick up the dopamine swirling around inside you and make it more potent. VROOM VROOM!!

Here are 4 simple tips to get the most out of your morning coffee and fuel for your super powers.

1.  Use it as a ritual to awaken all your senses.

Hold the cup and feel the warmth seep into your hands. (I use a hand-made mug for extra sensory pleasure)

Bring the mug to your face and inhale the aroma. Much of your taste comes from smell so you’ll sharpen your taste by smelling it first.

Take your first sip and before you swallow just notice the textures and temperature in your mouth.

Before you take another sip, just notice how your body feels after touching, smelling and tasting.

Your morning coffee can be a meditation that gets you present early and sets the tone for a more mindful day.

2. Avoid that mid afternoon energy crash by delaying your first cup for 1.5 – 2 hours after you wake up.  Cortisol, the stress hormone that increases your energy and regulates your sleep/wake cycles, (as well as many other groovy things) is naturally higher in the morning. This means you’re naturally more energized and able to focus in the early hours.  If all things are working well in your body, it will peak within 2 hours of waking, drop and continue tapering off throughout the day.

If you drink caffeine as soon as you wake you’ll disrupt your cortisol’s natural flow, causing it to peak earlier and drop earlier. Your energy will decline and it will be harder to focus.  This can create dependency on caffeine to do what your body could be doing naturally.

If you avoid coffee for the first 1.5 – 2 hours you let cortisol, which controls many life affirming systems in your body, operate optimally.

Also when you wake, your adenosine, the neurotransmitter that promotes sleepiness, is at its lowest. It rises throughout the day.  Caffeine blocks adenosine from reaching its receptors, so even though adenosine is building in your brain throughout the day, you won’t feel it while caffeine is doing its thing.  If you started drinking too early and rely on caffeine too much you’ll feel the effects of adenosine in a more profound way later and you’ll feel sleepy, making you crave more caffeine.

Delaying your morning brew gets your body back into its natural incredibly elegant rhythm of energy ebbs and flows.

3. Stop drinking coffee 8 – 10 hours before you go to bed. Caffeine has a pretty long life in your body, but the length of time varies for all of us.  If you aren’t sure how long it takes for you to process caffeine, stop drinking coffee in the afternoon and see if you notice changes a few weeks or months from now.  Caffeine in your system will really mess with your sleep, even if you’re not aware that it’s happening. You may fall asleep quickly and feel like you sleep through the night but the quality of your sleep will suffer if caffeine is operating at a half-life, or even quarter-life inside you. That means you’ll wake tired and want caffeine right away, which can lead to the mid afternoon crash, more coffee, and on it goes.

4. Choose coffee that’s good for everyone. Coffee is big business. The way the crops are grown and produced can be devastating to people, animals, and the planet. When you buy coffee that is certified Fair Trade, Organic, Shade Grown or Bird Friendly, you’re supporting small-scale farmers, communities and sustainable practices that support different species. It’s another way you can do good for others while your coffee is doing good for you.


If you want to experiment with delaying coffee, it’s important to remember that you don’t break a habit, you change a habit. I’d love to hear what you do, or plan to do, during that time when you’d normally be drinking your first cup.

As I write this, I’m raising my cup of morning coffee to your health.

Cheers, Debra

PS. Please share this post with someone who could use some ongoing energy and motivation.

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