- Coming Clean -

COMING CLEAN: Time for Coffee

How I’m reaping the benefits of java — and getting some sleep at night.

courtney drinking coffee lakeside

My love affair with coffee didn’t really start until my late 20s, when I first tried coffee black and realized I actually enjoyed the taste. Prior to that, I’d add sugar or sweetener and whipped cream and milks to gussy it up and mute the flavor, mostly because my friends would do the same. Coffee black was something our moms and dads drank.

These days, I usually take my coffee with a splash of unsweetened almond milk or, when I’m feeling fancy, vanilla coconut creamer. Going all out involves my newest discovery: blended coffee with coconut oil, cinnamon, and unsweetened almond milk, the last ingredient I make myself. This is the coffee to end all coffees — at least in my book, anyway.

Maybe it’s all the different approaches to making and drinking coffee that makes it so lovable. Maybe it’s that extra kick in the pants it gives us when we’re dragging on energy. I’m guessing it’s both those reasons and more that have added up to today’s National Coffee Day. Will a parade be next?

But how much coffee is healthy and right for you? I have friends who can drink a whole pot of coffee a day on one extreme, and others who can’t have even a cup after 10 a.m. and be affected.

When I was pregnant, I was very vigilant about coffee drinking, particularly early on, as many doctors still caution against overconsumption since it can lead to miscarriage. (The 2008 study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology still had doctors questioning the recommendation.) Two cups appeared to be safe, so that’s what I stuck with.

But postpartum I’ve upped my coffee drinking, at first due to lack of sleep during baby’s infant months, and now partly due to my lack of energy keeping up with our growing toddler. I didn’t see adverse effects (or at least I wasn’t really paying attention to them) so I kept on trucking.

However, that was before I undertook a Whole30 in August. The program authors’ advice on coffee:

  • One to two cups allowed per day
  • Compliant coconut or almond milk allowed (homemade works best)
  • Cinnamon or spices OK
  • No milk, cream, sugar, or sweeteners
  • Stop drinking coffee by noon

Surprisingly, simply using this cutoff time made a difference for me. That extra cup — even when it was half-caff — which I slipped in around 2:30 was making it harder for me to sleep at night.

Cutting back on coffee and drinking it earlier, I found myself feeling tired again at 9 p.m., and ready for bedtime earlier.

Can the timing of drinking your cup o’ Joe make a difference in your life? It’s a worthy experiment.

Wondering how and if coffee should be part of your daily routine? Learn more in “Coffee: A Healthy Grind?” and decide for yourself.

TELL ME: How much coffee do you drink each day? Have you cut back or increased your amount, and why?

Photography by Karen Lewis

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