Trying to find the best sleeping position to lower your blood pressure can sometimes be a frustrating experience.
No matter what you try and no matter which way you lie, you find your blood pressure is still far higher than you want it to be.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, every time you get into bed, you find that worrying about all the health risks of high blood pressure can be enough to keep you awake all night with stress.
If that sounds like a familiar problem, this is the guide for you.
Below, we’ll not only explain what might be going on with your blood pressure at night but also outline the best sleeping positions to help you lower it. Finally, we’ll share with you our expert recommendations on more ways to lower your blood pressure and enjoy the kind of peaceful, quality sleep you deserve.
Why Your Blood Pressure May Be Higher at Night?
Normally, your blood pressure follows a typical, regular pattern.
It begins to rise just before you wake up, continues to rise throughout the morning, then peaks around noon and begins to drop throughout the rest of the day, meaning it’s usually at its lowest during the first few hours of your nightly rest.
If you have high blood pressure (also called hypertension), however, this may not be the case.
Instead, it may be that your blood pressure fails to drop by less than 10% during the night (known as nondipping blood pressure or, worse, it may even get higher.
This nightly occurrence of high blood pressure -often referred to as nocturnal hypertension- can have a number of causes, including:
1. A High-Salt Diet
The American Heart Association notes that salt sensitivity and a high-salt diet are two of the leading causes of nocturnal hypertension.
This is one reason why individuals from Asia (where diets are naturally higher in salt than in other parts of the world) are likely to be at a high risk of high blood pressure at night.
If you eat a lot of smoked, cured, or canned meat, salted nuts, or even pizza and burritos, there’s a high chance that this could be contributing to your blood pressure.
2. A Sedentary Lifestyle
It’s no secret that regular exercise can help you to maintain healthy blood pressure, so it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to learn that the opposite is true; the less physical activity you do, the more chance you’re going to suffer with high blood pressure.
Research shows us a strong link between sedentary lifestyles and nocturnal hypertension. So, if you spend your entire day working at a desk or simply don’t get enough regular exercise, that could well be contributing to your problem.
3. Obstructive Sleep Apnea
It’s not uncommon for individuals who already can’t sleep due to Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) to also suffer from nighttime blood pressure increases.
The two conditions have a bidirectional relationship with one another, in that OSA can be the direct cause of high blood pressure while having high blood pressure in the first place can exacerbate OSA problems.
4. Cognitive Dysfunction
It is a condition that affects our ability to focus, solve problems, and remember key details. It can be a major cause of our inability to function properly if we’re dealing with a condition like Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) and, more importantly for our subject today, can also play a role in elevating nighttime blood pressure among middle-aged and older adults.
Again, there’s a bidirectional relationship going on here. If we’re struggling with depression to such an extent that it appears to affect our cognitive functioning, that could be making our nocturnal hypertension worse just as having high blood pressure can reduce our cognitive functioning in the first place.
Why Reducing High Blood Pressure at Night is So Important?
Whatever the root cause of your nocturnal hypertension may be, it’s imperative that you address it as soon as possible, as it could be a sign of a much more serious issue.
High night-time blood pressure has been linked to a higher risk of cardiovascular disease[ and heart failure.
It doesn’t end there, either.
Chronic kidney disease, strokes, and even dementia have also been linked to high nocturnal blood pressure levels.
In other words, the longer you leave the condition untreated, the greater the likelihood of it having a further detrimental impact on your health.
We don’t say that to scare you either. After all, here at Sweet Island Dreams, we’re all about helping you to sleep better, not keeping you up all night with worry.
It’s simply the case that high blood pressure isn’t something you want to take lightly. That’s why we recommend that your first course of action should be to book an appointment with your doctor, who can help you to understand exactly why your blood pressure is so high in the first place and diagnose the most effective course of treatment.
While you’re waiting for that appointment, the following tips and suggestions may help you to improve your sleep and lower your blood pressure.
What are the Best Sleeping Positions to Lower Blood Pressure?
After consulting your doctor, one of the best things you can do to lower your blood pressure is to get enough hours of quality rest.
When we sleep well, our body is able to eliminate stress hormones from our body, and this can have a significant positive impact on our blood pressure levels.
The following two positions are the best ways to sleep to reduce blood pressure and enjoy a good 7-8 hours of restorative rest.
1. On Your Left-Hand Side
If you read our ultimate guide to the best sleeping positions, you’ll know that sleeping on your left-hand side is one of the most beneficial positions there is.
It can, for example, help to reduce sleep apnea, which we’ve already seen has a big cause-and-effect relationship with nocturnal hypertension.
What’s more, sleeping on your left-hand side can alleviate pressure on the blood vessels and has been known to improve blood flow, all of which can help lower your blood pressure to a healthy level.
If you struggle to sleep on your left-hand side, you may find that switching to your right proves just as beneficial, though if your raised blood pressure is a cause (or a result) of heart failure, you may find that this position is much less comfortable for you.
2. On Your Stomach
Sleeping on your stomach is rarely a position we advise, as doing so incorrectly can cause a whole host of issues such as neck and shoulder pain and lower back ache.
Adopt this position properly, however, and it can be a great help in lowering your blood pressure.
How to Sleep on Your Stomach to Lower Blood Pressure?
Though side-sleeping should always be your first option when it comes to getting a solid night’s rest, if that’s not working for you, place a cushion under your abdomen and use a flatter-than-average pillow to place your head on.
This will help to keep your spine in its proper alignment so that you don’t wake up feeling stiff and sore. Some people even find it helpful to avoid using a pillow altogether.
You may also benefit from adding extra cushions around your sides to help support you while you sleep.
The Best Way to Sleep to Lower Blood Pressure: Do’s and Don’ts
So, you know that lying on your left-hand side or on your stomach is the best way to sleep to lower blood pressure, but adjusting your sleep position is far from the only thing you can do to help alleviate nocturnal hypertension.
Take the following suggestions to help improve both your blood pressure and your quality of sleep.
Do: Increase Your Daily Activity
With a sedentary lifestyle being one of the top causes of high blood pressure, one of the best things you can do to help yourself is to take on more physical activity.
Of course, nobody’s saying that you have to suddenly start training for a marathon or hitting the gym hard five nights a week.
Even moderate aerobic activity such as brisk walking or even doing yard work can have a positive effect on your blood pressure. For the best results, aim for at least two and a half hours of such exercise each week.
Don’t: Eat Too Much Salt
If you were paying attention earlier, you’ll recall that we told you a high salt diet (or simply a higher sensitivity to salt) could be a major contributing factor to high nocturnal blood pressure.
With that in mind, the most obvious and practical step to take is to switch to foods that are lower in salt content.
Fish, skinless chicken, lean cuts of beef, and unsalted nuts have far less salt than things like cured ham and salted nuts, so making even a few small changes to your diet can go a long, long way in improving your blood pressure at night.
Do: Destress Before Bed
The more stressed out and worked up you are when you go to bed, the higher your blood pressure is going to be.
As such, it’s a good idea to incorporate a few of your favorite relaxing activities into your pre-bed ritual to help you destress.
Taking a good bath, reading, or even learning how to meditate in bed can all help you feel much calmer once you get beneath the sheets, and that in itself can have a tremendously positive effect on your blood pressure.
Don’t: Neglect Your Mental Health
On a related note, mental health conditions such as Major Depressive Disorder can result in impaired cognitive and physical functioning.
As we discussed earlier, there have been links between high blood pressure and cognitive dysfunction, so it’s important that your mental health is never neglected.
Talking to your doctor about depression or other mental health issues can really help not just with the blood pressure but with improving your overall well-being so that you can enjoy a solid night of quality sleep.
Frequently Asked Questions About High Nighttime Blood Pressure
Does putting your feet up lower blood pressure?
Putting your feet up can help to lower blood pressure, but only if you do it for a short period of time (roughly three minutes). Any longer than that, and not only do the benefits disappear; they could actually become worse.
This is why we don’t recommend sleeping with your legs raised as one of the best ways to reduce blood pressure.
Does lying on your right side help to lower blood pressure?
Lying on your right-hand side can help to lower blood pressure but lying on the left is generally more beneficial.
How low does your blood pressure drop at night?
Blood pressure naturally drops during the nighttime hours and can be up to 20% lower during sleep than it is during the day. This is perfectly normal.
Choosing The Best Sleeping Positions to Lower Blood Pressure: A Final Piece of Advice
While lying on your stomach or your left-hand side may generally be the best sleep position to lower blood pressure, the one thing that’s going to make more difference to your blood pressure than anything else is the amount of quality sleep you get.
So, if you find that lying in either of those two positions doesn’t quite work for you, feel free to switch to any position that allows you to lie down and drift off into a comfortable sleep.
That way, your body can enter a state of deep, restorative sleep, combat any stress hormones that may be affecting your blood pressure, and generally improve your overall health and well-being.
To help you improve your sleep quality even further, see our complete guide to developing and maintaining a proper sleep schedule.