Thoughtful Thursday…A surprising factor for recovery and good health...
Welcome to Thoughtful Thursday. This GreenNote Fitness newsletter mindfully gathers and distills useful information that is supportive to our journey. It is my mission to educate, inspire, and propel you into action that moves you towards your goals and life of purpose. Take control of your journey today.
"Go easy” Not again, I thought as I checked my Readiness Score data from my self-quantification device. Why am I not recovering?
You see, even though we may sleep straight through the night, it doesn’t necessarily mean we got good quality of sleep. In fact, we may not be fully recovered (as in my case). Instead of a hard workout or busy day, we may need to let the body and mind relax a bit.
What should we pay attention to when we sleep? One measure of how we’ve recovered is our resting heart rate.
In today’s newsletter we look at how our resting heart rate plays a crucial role in our recovery. First stop? Why sleep matters.
Why does sleep matter?
Simply put it cleans up cellular waste and repairs itself. What though is happening? As Ben Greenfield describes it: your muscles recover and repair themselves, your adrenals become restored, your liver detoxifies your body, your immune system is rebuilt, lymphatic drainage occurs, and a host of other built-in mechanisms allow for you to be fully human the rest of the day.
As we can see, sleep matters. A lot. It allows us to recover from the day. As we know from the Importance of proper recovery, proper recovery is essential for peak human performance because it allows the body to bounce back stronger.
Resting Heart Rate
One measure of recovery is our resting heart rate. A lower resting heart rate is a sign of good recovery and health. My self-quantification device, the Oura ring tracks resting heart rate throughout the night and shows you a night-time heart rate curve. As Oura points out, by looking at your heart rate curve you can see the effects of circadian misalignment, late meals, late workouts, alcohol or sickness.
That begs the question then, what should your heart rate be? Let’s let the sleep tracking experts explain:
Heart rate during the night varies widely between individuals: it can be between 40–100 beats per minute and still be considered normal. It can also change from day to day, depending on your hydration level, elevation, exercise and temperature. As with many of the physiological metrics, such as heart rate variability, it’s often best to compare your heart rate with your own baseline, not with that of others.
From the Oura data we can see that the most common lowest nocturnal heart rate is 55. The lowest night-time HR values range from 35 to 84, with 50% of the people with values between 51 and 60.
Even though there is a lot of variability between individuals, night-time heart rates are very similar for one person – at least when you stick to regular habits. This is why nocturnal heart rate is one of the factors that you may trust when interpreting how your lifestyle choices affect your recovery. For most Oura users, even a 4 bpm change marks a clear difference.
Resting Heart Rate Trends
Oura describes three different trends for resting heart rate:
The Hammock - the ideal trend, your lowest heart rate happens at the midpoint of sleep when the amount of melatonin is at its highest
The Downward Slope - metabolism may be working overtime
The Dune - “too tired for bed”, your heart rate goes up right after you fall asleep - if it’s past your regular bedtime, you many start feeling the effects of your increased melatonin and lowered blood pressure as your body is informing you about bedtime passing
For graphs and more details on these trends and what they mean read here.
Lately, my trend most closely resembles The Downward Slope:
The Downward Slope is a sign that your metabolism is working overtime. Did you have a late meal, a late workout or a glass of wine before bed? If your resting heart rate starts high and reaches its lowest point right before you woke up, you may wake up feeling unrefreshed.
If you see the downward slope regularly, it’s a good time to stop and think if there’s something you could do differently. If you are a late exerciser, doing your physical training session 1–2 hours earlier can be a significant change, for example.
If this was a one-off occurrence or even a couple of times, I wouldn’t be concerned but in fact, I’ve had a lower Readiness Score (how well I’m recovering) for over a week. Time to take a harder look at what I can do differently to recover better. I am not having a late night meal nor a glass of wine before bed. What other factors could be contributing? Stay tuned. We will look further into optimizing sleep and recovery.
Enjoy your journey,
You wouldn’t happen to know just one person that would benefit from this information? Please forward it to them!
Did you miss last week’s newsletter on Importance of proper recovery…?