Tracking your health can be a great way of better understanding your body and how well it is performing. In recent years, wearables have become a huge success in the health and wellness community. A smartwatch can tell you your heart rate, track your sleep, provide you with a pulse oximetry reading, and can even detect the electrical impulses of the heart.
One vital sign that can provide you with a wealth of knowledge regarding your cardiovascular health is your blood pressure. Blood pressure is a vital sign that measures the pressure that blood imposes on your arteries during and after heart contraction.
A typical blood pressure reading is displayed as systolic blood pressure over diastolic blood pressure. Systolic pressure is the pressure exerted on your arteries during heart contraction, and diastolic pressure is the pressure reading when your heart is relaxed.
A number of people that start tracking their blood pressure get a fairly accurate picture of what their normal blood pressure is, but sometimes outside factors like time of day can cause higher than normal readings.
Below is a closer look at high blood pressure in the morning, what it means, why it may happen, and ways you may be able to lower it.
Experts consider a blood pressure of less than 120/80 mmHg to be normal. Any reading above this can be considered high or elevated — however, a single reading that is slightly elevated is typically not concerning.
It is generally recommended for people tracking their blood pressure to take readings in the morning and the evening. Morning blood pressure readings tend to be fairly accurate, as blood pressure tends to be at its lowest in the morning. However, some people may notice that their blood pressure is higher in the morning.
There are a number of factors that go into your blood pressure. Your cardiovascular fitness, diet, lifestyle habits, and even the time of day can play a role in your final blood pressure. Below is a closer look at some potential reasons why your blood pressure may be elevated in the morning.
High blood pressure (hypertension) can occur due to an underlying medical condition. Some common conditions that can elevate blood pressure include high blood sugar (hyperglycemia), kidney disease, chronically high cholesterol (hypercholesterolemia), sleep apnea, and obesity.
Managing these medical conditions and getting on a treatment plan may help to lower your blood pressure. If you have unexplained morning hypertension, it may be a good idea to visit your primary care physician to rule any of these conditions out.
Medications can be extremely helpful in the management and treatment of diseases, but they can also have side effects, such as elevating your blood pressure levels. Hypertension can be caused by a number of different medications.
Some common medications that may contribute to high blood pressure include:
Taking medications isn’t the only cause of medicine-induced high blood pressure — ceasing some medications can also lead to elevated blood pressure. This is called rebound hypertension and typically occurs when people stop taking medications for high blood pressure, like beta blockers.
If you suspect that your medication may be contributing to your high blood pressure, consult with your doctor to see if there are any alternative medications that you may be able to take.
One of the main factors that contribute to elevated blood pressure has to do with how you live your life. If you are mostly sedentary throughout the day, make less-than-ideal dietary choices, and experience high levels of stress, these can significantly increase your chances of having chronically high blood pressure, which you’ll notice in your morning readings.
An elevated blood pressure reading in the morning can be serious depending on a number of factors. Having high blood pressure readings in the morning may be a cause for concern if you have extremely high blood pressure readings or consistently high blood pressure readings in the morning.
A sporadic and infrequent elevated blood pressure reading in the morning tends not to be of major concern, but it is something to keep a close eye on.
As described previously, blood pressure readings can change based on the time of day the reading was taken. Blood pressure variation throughout the day is quite normal and actually follows a characteristic pattern.
The daily blood pressure pattern is closely tied to the body’s internal clock, known as the circadian rhythm. Your blood pressure is generally low as you sleep and tends to rise slowly a few hours before you wake up.
Once awake, blood pressure continues to climb until about midday, when it peaks. As the day continues, your blood pressure slowly drops until you go to bed, where it remains low until the morning.
The peaks and troughs of the daily blood pressure pattern are why most people are recommended to take a reading from a blood pressure monitor in the early morning or evening.
High blood pressure is a risk factor for many chronic diseases, as it places strain on the organs and blood vessels of your body. Heart disease, heart failure, kidney failure, stroke, cardiac arrest, and heart attack are more likely in the presence of sustained elevated blood pressure.
The silver lining in all of this is that hypertension can be effectively managed through a combination of lifestyle modifications, nutrition, and medical treatment. When these steps are taken early enough, they can significantly reduce your chances of developing further chronic diseases, as well as keep your heart and body healthy.
Below is a closer look at some of the ways you can support more normalized blood pressure in the mornings.
One potential cause of an abnormal blood pressure reading is taking your blood pressure following a meal. Factors such as salt and sugar content from a meal can elevate blood pressure readings.
Generally, you should take your morning blood pressure reading before you eat breakfast and take your evening blood pressure two to three hours after your last meal. This rule ensures that your digestion is not impacting your blood pressure measurement.
Sleep is an integral part of your overall health, and not getting enough of it can have serious health implications. Individuals that chronically do not get enough sleep are at a higher risk of getting sick and developing conditions such as hypertension and cardiovascular disease.
Getting good sleep is oftentimes easier said than done, but an excellent way to start is by creating an environment and routine that is more conducive to good sleep. Creating a relaxing nighttime routine, avoiding bright lights in the late evening, and making sure your room is dark, quiet, and comfortable can help facilitate more restful sleep.
Caffeine is often a go-to, but its effects may cause your blood pressure to rise. Caffeine is technically considered a stimulant, which can temporarily increase your heart rate, elevate your blood pressure, and make you feel more alert.
These effects are why many people turn to a cup of coffee when they hit the mid-afternoon slump — however, excessive consumption of caffeine may lead to high blood pressure. Limiting your caffeine consumption, especially in the evening, can be helpful for reducing your blood pressure and allowing you to get more restful sleep.
Having high blood pressure in the morning is typically a good indicator that you should visit your healthcare provider. High blood pressure is linked to a number of negative health outcomes, and it’s important to get it taken care of sooner rather than later.
Aside from prescribing you medications, your healthcare provider may also consider enrolling you in a cardiac rehab program to help you make lasting heart-healthy habits. Cardiac rehab, such as that offered by Carda Health, focuses on providing a tailored program for patients that incorporates physical activity, education, and support.
An occasional elevated blood pressure reading in the morning is nothing to write home about, but if it occurs on a consistent basis, it may be something worth looking into. There are many things that can cause high morning blood pressure, and the best way to get to the bottom of it and support your health is to reach out to your doctor’s office and schedule an appointment.
If your doctor thinks that you may benefit from making heart-healthy lifestyle changes, consider Carda Health as a cardiac rehabilitation provider. The Carda Health program takes an at-home virtual approach that allows for unmatched patient flexibility, which means that you can focus more on improving your health for the better.