If you’re anything like me, your own health quirks and oddities sometimes get neglected.
- “Oh, that’s a weird thing.”
- “Hmm, that’s a strange feeling.”
Even though my healthy Dad goals are critically important, and I listen to my body, I tend to focus on macro rather than micro.
So when I occasionally jump out of bed too quickly, and a headache comes thundering down, I tend to grab some Aleve and call it a day. However, after monitoring my health biometrics via the Whoop band, I started to uncover more than just a weird thing or strange feeling.
Measure your Resting Heart Rate
If you’re experiencing the same headaches after standing up quickly in the morning, I’d first recommend measuring your resting heart rate (RHR).
I’ve been a Whoop user since 2018 and have loved learning about the data around my recovery, strain, and sleep. Being a quasi-data junkie, I find it incredibly enlightening since I’ve never worn a heart monitor before. I’m constantly watching my numbers.
The most alarming (in a good way) data point was how low my resting heart rate is. It ranges from 49-52, sometimes dipping to 46 on some nights. That is indeed something to brag about.
Average Resting Heart Rate (RHR)
For those wondering, that’s way below the average. Here’s Mayo Clinic’s take on RHR:
A normal resting heart rate for adults ranges from 60 to 100 beats per minute. Generally, a lower heart rate at rest implies more efficient heart function and better cardiovascular fitness. For example, a well-trained athlete might have a normal resting heart rate closer to 40 beats per minute.
So, that’s AWESOME.
Could a low RHR be causing headaches?
Back to my weird thing and strange feelings.
Since my 20s, I’ve had this issue where if I jump out of bed quickly in the morning, I get an immediate headache. It’s always been curable after some headache medicine and water.
But, it’s a thing.
I’ve always chalked it up to needing to take a few deep breaths and sitting up slowly upon waking. If it’s too fast, BOOM, instant brain crunch.
My recent discovery of my low RHR got me Googling, and after reading a few message boards and articles, I realized I’m not weird (well, in this way). I’m merely experiencing hypotension headaches, as simply explained by IHateHeadaches.org:
These types of headaches are also called orthostatic and occur when changes in the blood pressure of your head occur dramatically. If you bend over and suddenly move upright you may experience a painful headache.
A resting heart rate in the sub-50s plays a significant role here. My blood pressure is low, and when I quickly awake my body revolts and screams “Um, WHAT!” From my research, this is common in athletes (see CrossFit message board) and their body’s inability to increase blood pressure quickly when standing. This is not a disease, but a physical finding.
How to get rid of hypotension headaches
Here are a few things I’ve learned to help alleviate those thundering headaches that show up after jumping out of bed in the morning.
- Add more sodium
- Drink more water
Outside of a few dietary adjustments, there doesn’t seem to be many remedies here.
Dad’s Final Thoughts
I’m still trying to understand hypotension headaches, and how to minimize them possibly, and I’d encourage you, too.
Some sources say it’s a sign of another condition and should be inspected further by a doctor. Others say it’s the collateral damage of a very low (but awesome!) resting heart rate.
Whichever direction you go, hopefully, you now have some terminology and a basic framework to continue your own research.
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Eric Sharp is the founder of Healthy Dad Hacks. He married the love of his life (Sarah) and proud Dad of a blended family (Hazel & Roman). When not thinking about being a better Dad, he enjoys; CrossFit, entrepreneurship, eating carnivore, learning and writing about his findings, staying loyal to his Chicago Bears, music, and fancy sneakers.
[Picture: Turkey Trot 2021]