Resting Heart Rate vs Sleep Heart Rate: Why They Matter + Good

IIf you’ve ever woken up from a nightmare with your heart pounding like crazy, you already know that sleeping and resting are not the same thing. Your resting heart rate (RHR) and your sleeping heart rate (SHR) are also not the same. If you’re trying to manage your cardiovascular fitness and fitness level, it’s important to understand the difference between your resting heart rate and your sleeping heart rate.

Read on to learn what each measurement means and what you can do to improve them.

Resting Heart Rate vs Sleep Heart Rate

You may think heart rate or heart rate is a simple number, but the truth is that there are different ways to measure heart rate and they can tell you different things about your health.

What is resting heart rate?

According to the American Heart Association, your resting heart rate is the amount of blood your heart pumps when you’re resting, not exercising. This is the least amount of blood your heart pumps when you are awake. Many factors can affect your resting heart rate, including your temperature, the way you sit, your emotions, certain medications, and whether you’re active (athletes often have them). lower resting heart rate, but we’ll talk more about that later).

What is heart rate during sleep?

Your sleeping heart rate is exactly what it sounds like—your heartbeat while you’re asleep. As you fall asleep, your heart rate gradually slows down to your resting heart rate in light sleep. As you fall into deep sleep, your heart rate will be even slower—about 20 to 30 percent lower than your resting heart rate.

What can your resting heart rate tell you about your health?

Heart rate is measured in beats per minute (BPM). According to the American Heart Association, a healthy resting heart rate for adults ranges from 60 to 100 BPM. If you have a consistent RHR above that range, your heart may be working harder than usual. “Your resting heart rate reflects how active your heart is when you sit still and relax. Jeffrey M. Tyler, MD, cardiologist at Providence St. Joseph of California, says this measurement usually reflects your overall health and fitness level.

The best time to take this all-important measurement is in the morning or right before bed when you’re relaxing. “Don’t measure your resting heart rate when you’re nervous or stressed. You also won’t get accurate results within an hour of strenuous exercise, says Majid Basit, MD, a cardiologist with Memorial Hermann Medical Group in Texas.

Many factors affect resting heart rate, including age, weight, and fitness level. “Participants in regular moderate to high-intensity exercise, such as running, swimming, and other aerobic activities, had, on average, a lower resting heart rate. This is because exercise strengthens the heart muscle and allows it to work more efficiently, requiring fewer beats per minute,” says Dr. Dr Basit adds: “Drugs such as beta-blockers and certain health conditions, including thyroid disease, can also affect resting heart rate.

“Exercise strengthens the heart muscle and allows it to work more efficiently, requiring fewer beats per minute.”—Jeffrey M. Tyler, MD, cardiologist at Providence St. Joseph in California

What can your sleep heart rate tell you about your health?

According to Dr. Basit, a normal heart rate during sleep in adults ranges from 40 to 100 BPM. “It is important not to worry if you are using a heart rate monitor and it shows a lower heart rate while you are sleeping. Sleep heart rate is also a good way to monitor your daily heart rate as it is unaffected by factors like pain, stress and anxiety,” he says.

Your sleeping heart rate fluctuates throughout the night, based on what stage of sleep you’re in. Dreams can also have an impact. “Sleep heart rate encompasses the entire trend of heart rate, as a person goes through different sleep stages. It’s varied and unpredictable because it can drop below your resting heart rate and then spike up, depending on brain activity,” says registered advanced nurse Christine. Kingsley, APRN of the Lung Institute.

Your body goes through cycles of REM (rapid eye movement) sleep and non-REM (non-rapid eye movement) sleep four to five times a night. When you fall asleep, you enter a non-REM (light sleep) state. “During non-rapid movement sleep, the core body temperature drops and the muscles in the body relax, causing the heart rate to drop about 20 to 30 percent below the resting heart rate,” says Kingsley.

Your sleeping heart rate continues to decrease as you enter a deeper stage of sleep. “When we sleep, the body relaxes and the body temperature drops. Our nervous system shifts from a fight-or-flight system to one that focuses on conserving energy and repairing the system. Dr. Basit explains that our built-in pacemaker can sense these changes and tell the heart to beat more slowly.

However, when you start dreaming, your sleeping heart rate can spike. “When the body enters REM sleep, where dreams occur, the heart rate increases in response by increasing to the level when the body is awake and active. Kingsley explained that this spike basically reflects activity levels in the dream, so if you were running in your dream you would have a runner’s heart rate at the time. in your sleep.

So when you compare your resting heart rate to your sleeping heart rate, your sleeping heart rate will generally be slightly lower—and since it’s unaffected by stress spikes and anxiety so it can give you a better picture of your health by also taking into account your resting heart rate.

How to measure resting heart rate properly

All that said, you may be wondering how to best measure your resting heart rate. Because emotion and activity both raise your heart rate, for an accurate reading, measure your resting heart rate when you’re relaxed, while your body and brain remain stationary. You can use a heart rate monitor, fitness tracker, or other verified device. (As mentioned, some wearables will also monitor your sleeping heart rate if you wear them at night.)

You can also take your pulse using the following steps provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

  1. Find the radial pulse on the carpal artery, located under the thumb pad
  2. Place the tips of your index and middle fingers on the artery and press gently
  3. Full 60 second count of your heart rate
  4. You can also count your heart rate for 30 seconds and double it
  5. Start counting on one beat. The first beat is counted as “0”

Can you improve your heart rate?

Studies have shown that a higher resting heart rate can increase your chances of heart disease and even premature death, so it’s important to improve this health marker if you can.” Dr. Basit said. Good sayings to live. Literally.

Just like any other muscle, you can improve your heart by working it. And no, that doesn’t mean falling in love and then falling out of love. It means regular exercise and aerobics if you haven’t already done so. Basit recommends regular, sustained exercise for 30 to 45 minutes a day.

“I have had patients run triathlons with a sleep heart rate of 30 beats per minute and a resting heart rate of about 40 beats per minute. While not all of us aim to be elite athletes, we should strive to be more aware of our health and strive to transform our bodies into stronger machines, more efficient,” he said.

Reducing or managing stress, and eating heart-healthy foods, can also help lower your resting and sleeping heart rates. “Good sleep hygiene like avoiding coffee near bedtime, going to bed at the same time every night, and avoiding bright lights at night all help promote a lower sleep heart rate,” says Dr. speak.

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