I have always loved the idea of tea time. When I was little, I would model my behavior and daily routine after the British culture, or what I perceived it to be based on Mary Poppins and British comedies like Fawlty Towers, Are You Being Served? and The Vicar of DIbley. Also, I watched my fair share of British films growing up, mostly classics from the 20’s and 30’s, all featuring tea time somewhere in the story line.
Now I have a new found fondness for tea time. Not just because it’s an excuse to take a break in the afternoon with delicious tea (I am the proud owner of a 1 lb bag of oolong tea and 1 lb bag of rooibos) and tasty desserts, but also because British tea time may be the right time to have caffeine without suffering from its ill effects.
British Tea Time and Circadian Rhythms
According to Sidney MacDonald Baker, M.D., when we take caffeine in the morning, whether from coffee, tea or chocolate, it tends to shift our circadian rhythms in the forward direction in order to lengthen our day. This may not be helpful on our adrenals or our minds, especially at night when we are attempting to go to sleep. I’ve written more about circadian rhythms here.
Our biological rhythms, which govern our sleep, growth, metabolism, mood and more, need to be strengthened and maintained in order to combat and prevent diseases such as cancer, obesity, Alzheimer’s, etc. The way to do this is to receive sunlight in the day, receive very little light in the evening (as it can interfere with melatonin production) and to limit our caffeine – or, at least, limit it until the afternoon.
British tea time, which generally lies between 2 PM and 4 PM, is around the time when caffeine becomes relatively neutral and doesn’t affect our circadian rhythms. Usually, if we drink coffee or tea in the morning, it will shift our inner biorhythm or inner “clock” to an unnatural state, attempting to lengthen your day, making it more than 24 hours. This is when we start generating hormones at the wrong times (seratonin and melatonin, to name two) that increase our chances of depression, diabetes, cancer, etc.
Brewing the Perfect Cup of Tea
This is my preferred method for brewing tea. I simply boil 1 cup of water in my tea kettle and pour over 1 tsp. of loose leaf tea. Oolong is my favorite at the moment, along with antioxidant rich rooibos.
Unfortunately, tea time is not a common part of British culture as it used to be, but that doesn’t mean you can’t go all out. I like to sometimes have a slice of healthy chocolate cake with my tea, or some cookies or even some veggie sticks with sunflower seed butter. Marmite may be an option, too, if you can handle yeast – but it’s really a love it or hate it type of food. 😉
Ways to Strengthen Your Circadian Rhythm
Avoid caffeine in the morning. Energize yourself with water, a green smoothie and/or exercise, instead. Coffee and tea doesn’t provide energy, anyway – it simply stimulates your nervous system. I suspect why many people think caffeine is bad for the body is because it is taken at the wrong time.
Exercise daily, but avoid strenuous cardio at night, if you can avoid it.
Make sure to receive adequate amounts of sunlight during the morning, making sure to safely receive light through your eyes without UV protection. Don’t look directly into the sun! Common sense is your friend. 🙂 You don’t even have to look toward the sun to expose your eyes and skin to bright light. Light in the morning stimulates your serotonin production in your brain, which helps you drive forward in your day. It’s also important for improving mood.
Avoid bright lights at night. Our brains are supposed to produce melatonin when the sun sets, so we get sleepy, which then helps us to rest. Artificial lights will confuse your brain and you may start producing more serotonin at a time when you aren’t supposed to. This can lead to many negative health consequences, among which include diabetes and cancer. Read how Thomas Edison May Have Accidentally Increased Diabetes Risk.
Eat a healthy diet, low in sugar and refined carbohydrates.
Choose to be happy! This one sounds easy, but sometimes it’s harder to put it into action. You choose your mood and your state of mind, so choose to be happy as soon as you lay your head down to sleep and as soon as you wake up. This will go a long way in promoting your health and the health of those around you.
For now, this is The Healthy Advocate.