Coffee and I used to be big lovers. But it was kind of a non-mutual and a little toxic relationship. When I got up in the morning, my first way (or to be fully honest second way after the bathroom) would be to the coffee machine. My partner is a huge coffee lover, whereas I would rather describe him as coffee connaisseur even. The ritual of grounding freshly sealed beans, the smell, the extraction process, the milk foaming, the taste. Mmmhhh. Perfection. If it wasn’t for my hormones. Because they were not thrilled about my little morning tête-à-tête.
The thing with coffee is, if you drink it on an empty stomach in the morning, it can – one – upset your gut and – two – increase your cortisol levels. Cortisol is anyway elevated in the morning as it wakes you up from your sleep. But when you further increase cortisol with caffeine, this will likely irritate your adrenal glands (where cortisol is produced) and could eventually lead to hormonal imbalances which might show themselves in the form of PMS and period pain.
So what I did was I simply quit caffeine. If I feel like having coffee now, I drink decaf. My partner found really nice brands for decaf coffee beans and we both think there is zero difference in taste to regular beans. Going cold turkey on caffeine was not easy at first, because I was used to the little spikes of cortisol coffee gave me. After I quit, I had headaches at first. Was tired AF. But I did not „relapse“. I substituted caffeine with much much much more water and teas (without caffeine). And it really took a while until I got used to my new situation.
But my current status is – I do not wake up tired anymore but feel energized in the morning, without the help of caffeine. And I love that.
If the thought of quitting caffeine completely gives your goosebumps – don’t worry. In case you would like to continue consuming caffeine but still want to support your hormone balance, make sure to drink your coffee WITH or AFTER your breakfast. And try to avoid it after 2pm, otherwise it could mess with your sleep.
Also, as you approach the end of your luteal phase or when you are menstruating – try to avoid caffeine completely. Studies show that during these times, our bodies are having harder times to break down the caffeine, even when consumed early in the day – so this could again goof up your sleep.