Wake Up, Check Up
Why checking your heart rate is best in the morning.
In a previous article, we’ve examined the importance of keeping a good heart rate, and what your heart rate means with respect to your overall health and longevity. That said, your heart rate fluctuates throughout the day, due to the influence of your circadian rhythm and stress in the day.
Heart Rate Cycles
As you wake up, your body begins to pump cortisol through your veins. While your body helps to wake you up by increasing cortisol levels, your cortisol levels fluctuate throughout the day. For this reason, it’s best to take your heart rate measurements right after you wake up, when your cortisol levels will be approximately the same each day.
Cortisol is released in response to stress, and is what gets your heart pumping faster when you encounter a stressful situation. As your day goes on, your boss may give you another assignment or you may get an urgent call. Any number of daily tasks can lead to stress, which can affect the heart rate reading you take. On the other hand, your heart rate should be relatively similar at the time you wake up each day.
Stress isn’t the only confounding variable that affects our heart rate. Many of us reach for coffee as we head out of bed (which we explain is a bad idea in this article here). Caffeine increases our heart rate, and is another factor that makes our resting heart rate measurement less reliable between days. Other psychoactive substances, like alcohol for example, may lower our resting heart rate.
It's recommended to keep an eye on your resting heart rate in order to use it as a measure of good health and aerobic activity. Since we hope to see a lowering in our resting heart rates, as an indicator of improving cardiovascular activity and overall health, we need to be sure that there aren’t other confounding factors that could be affecting our measurements. Similarly, when we weigh ourselves at the scale, we want to make sure we’re wearing similar clothing to when we last weighed ourselves. For these reasons, taking your heart rate at the same time of day, when other factors like stress and caffeine are likely to be insignificant, is the best way to get good data on our heart rates and our overall health.
When you wake up, and turn off the alarm you’ve set on your phone – reach for the Rthm app to measure your heart rate. By taking your heart rate when you wake up each morning, you’ll be able to set a routine, and understand how you’ve been improving your health over time.