Hello all you blood pressure warriors!
You already know that taking your blood pressure is one of the best preventive health measures you can follow.
It’s important to measure your blood pressure frequently so that you’ll be alerted to the possibility of experiencing any serious illnesses, such as having a heart attack or stroke.
But did you know that there are times when your blood pressure readings aren’t very accurate?
Sometimes a blood pressure test might suggest you’ve got a higher or lower pressure level than what you’ve really got.
You could develop an unnecessary health scare, or you might be hiding something you need to take action on.
There are several times in the day to take your blood pressure that will give you a more accurate measurement.
In the Morning Before Eating
One of the best times to take blood pressure readings is in the morning before eating, drinking, or taking medications.
Your test will be more accurate if your body isn’t being impacted by anything you’ve been consuming or any activity that you’ve already engaged in.
But don’t measure your blood pressure level right after waking up.
Believe it or not, when you first wake up, your body releases certain hormones such as adrenaline and noradrenaline that actually increase your blood pressure.
Measure your blood pressure about an hour after you wake up, using the same arm each time.
And you should take 3 consecutive measurements, about one minute apart.
Then throw away the first blood pressure reading because that one tends to be more inaccurage.
The last two blood pressure measurements will provide a more accurate understanding of your “true” blood pressure.
By the way, make sure you empty your bladder before taking your blood pressure.
Regardless of when you test yourself, a full bladder can add at least ten points to your blood pressure reading.
The Late Evening
In the late evening, your day is typically winding down and your body is more relaxed.
Again, it’s important to take three readings and throw out the first reading.
Make sure you haven’t been physically active at least thirty minutes to an hour prior to taking your blood pressure measurement.
You might find that your late evening blood pressure might be a bit higher than your morning blood pressure reading, simply because of any medications you’ve taken during the day, or the processed food and sodium in the food you’ve eaten during the day.
Now, let me tell you the worst time of the day to take your blood pressure.
The Worst Times to Take Your Blood Pressure
As the day progresses, your blood pressure continues to rise, usually peaking in the middle of the afternoon.
That’s because it’s probably the highest activity level of the day for most people and the time people usually experience the most stress.
Stress increases your blood pressure.
So avoid taking your blood pressure in the middle of the day.
When Your Body Is Cold
Have you noticed your blood pressure tends to rise when you’re out in cold temperatures?
Your blood vessels will narrow when you’re in the cold.
Your blood pressure starts to rise, due to your body’s need to add pressure, to force blood through those narrowed vessels.
So avoid testing your blood pressure right after you’ve been in the cold.
Allow your body to warm up and relax before you take your blood pressure readings.
Right After You Consume of Certain Things
Anything you consume during the day can cause your blood pressure to rise.
Your body’s blood vessels can narrow after you consume caffeine or nicotine.
Your blood pressure may also rise after eating.
The odds are, you’ll consume something high in salt or sodium during the day.
Sodium boosts your body’s blood pressure by causing your body to retain excess fluid.
Wait a few hours after consuming foods, or anything else, before testing your blood pressure.
Let your body relax and recover from whatever you’re doing.
What If You Have An Unusual Blood Pressure Pattern?
There’s a chance you might have an unusual blood pressure pattern.
You might not experience the lowest pressure in the morning and then see it peak midway through the day.
You’re more likely to have an abnormal blood pressure pattern if you encounter too much stress or anxiety each day.
People who work in the evening hours tend to have unusual blood pressure patterns.
These include people who work during the overnight hours.
Those who take blood pressure medications that don’t last twenty-four hours, might also experience some changes.
Learn How to Take Your Blood Pressure Readings at Home
The only way you’re going to be able to take your blood pressure readings in the morning or later in the evening is if you take your own blood pressure readings at home.
To do that, you’ll need to purchase a good blood pressure monitor.
Harvard Medical gives four good tips on choosing a good blood pressure monitor.
1. Choose a monitor that goes around your upper arm.
Wrist and finger monitors are not as precise.
2. Make sure the cuff fits your arm.
If it’s too big or too small, the reading won’t be accurate.
3. Select an automated monitor, which has a cuff that inflates itself.
4. Look for a digital readout that is large and bright enough for you to see clearly, and one that also shows your pulse rate.
Tips on Measuring Your Blood Pressure at Home
Harvard Medical also gives some great tips on taking your blood pressure at home.
1. Avoid caffeinated or alcoholic beverages, and don’t smoke, during the 30 minutes before the test.
2. Sit quietly for five minutes with your back supported and your feet on the floor before you start.
3. Support your arm so your elbow is at the level of your heart.
4. Push your sleeves out of the way and wrap the cuff over bare skin.
5. Don’t talk during the measurement.
Measure your blood pressure according to the machine’s instructions.
Again, take three readings.
Throw out the first reading and average the last two readings.
Don’t be too concerned if a reading is high.
Relax for a few minutes and try again.
Keep a record of your blood pressure readings and the time of day they are made.
So the best time of the day to take your blood pressure readings are about thirty minutes to an hour after you’ve woken up, and before you’ve taken any medications or eaten breakfast.
And the second best time of the day to take your blood pressure reading is in the evening, at the end of the day, after your body has settled down.