Mindfulness Meditation for Better Sleep, Lower Blood Pressure, and Reducing Anxiety

I’ve been using a Fitbit Versa 4 since the start of the year. I appreciate the way it tracks my sleep and my heart rate. For a long time, I’ve known about the importance of mindfulness meditation for better sleep, lower heart rate during sleep, relaxation, lower blood pressure, and reducing anxiety. However, I never took the time to do meditation exercise. Before, it seemed like too much hassle!

Above is a Fitbit blog entry from August 18, 2018. “Could a Simgle Mindfulness Session Ease Your Anxiety?”

On the Fitbit app, there’s a “10-minute body scan and drift off to sleep” session available. If I play the meditation session through the app on my phone, while wearing my Fitbit (which is synced to my phone), and then answer “yes” to the question on my phone, “Do you want to log this meditation session?” it shows me how my heart rate changed. I did it a couple times and was amazed by how quickly it lowered my heart rate. Love it!

Fitbit Restoration Sleep Score and “Breathe, Relax, Drift Off to Sleep” Screenshot

Due to doctor’s recommendation, I’ve been aiming for 30 minutes of cardio exercise (greater than 125 bpm heart rate), five times per week. Due to my work schedule, frequently I can’t fit the exercise in until the evenings. Unfortunately, that means that my heart rate may still be elevated when I lie down to sleep … which isn’t ideal. Thankfully, with the fitbit app, I learned that I can use a meditation session to bring the heart rate down before sleeping. That’s very helpful!

Unfortunately, because I turn my phone off while I’m sleeping, I can’t use the audio recording from the Fitbit meditation app to “drift off to sleep.” Even if I were willing to leave my phone on while sleeping, obviously I can’t answer “yes” to record the meditation session if I’m successfully drifting off to sleep at the end. Without being able to “log the session,” to record how one’s heart rate changed, there’s no benefit of using the Fitbit app versus a random meditation audio from somewhere else.

Isn’t it funny how quickly something that seems simple … “practice meditation before going to sleep .., there’s even an app for it” can become so complicated?

But … never fear … wily problem solver that I am, I figured out a workaround. 💓 I used an old-school voice memo recorder to record the 10-minute “drift off to sleep” meditation session. I keep the battery-operated voice recorder near my bed. When I’m ready to sleep, I hit “play,” and that’s it. Works perfectly!

I’m posting about this here in Veganish Dot World as a gentle reminder that the food we eat is just one component of good health.

Yes, I choose big-picture vegan food as my usual thing to show support for animals, not for health reasons (because a well-planned nutritious vegan diet is not inherently more or less healthful than a well-planned nutritious diet that includes animal products). However, it’s SADLY VERY COMMON in vegan / vegetarian spaces for people to shame people who consume animal products for whatever health conditions or ailments they may have … osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and so on.

Wouldn’t it be hilariously wicked to counter-shame the self-righteous “we’re shaming people to help animals” vegans / vegetarians with things like this?

  • Not doing enough weight-bearing exercise (sorry, biking and swimming don’t help) … Enjoy your osteoporosis! It’s iiuli
  • Not doing enough cardio exercise (heart beat above 125 bpm, varies by person … swimming and biking totally DO help) … enjoy your diabetes and/or cardiovascular disease!
  • LilllooiooToo much stress with work, family and other obligations … enjoy your high blood pressure, diabetes and/or cardiovascular disease!
  • Insomniac, night shift worker or just not sleeping well? Enjoy your shorter expected life span, reduced cognitive abilities, dementia and cardiovascular disease!
  • Generic predisposition to diabetes, high blood pressure and so on .., have fun with that!

Ha! You get the picture. I’m not advocating anyone counter-shaming like this, only bringing it up to highlight how unsavory it is to shame people for their health conditions, on account of the person not being vegan or vegetarian. How would the vegans and vegetarians feel if they were shamed for their health conditions when people “assumed” they didn’t do enough of the “right kind” of exercise or didn’t sleep enough or didn’t manage their stress levels well enough?

By the way, if any of the above associations are not correct, please let me know in the comments. I wrote that in a hurry, simply based on memory. I will correct anything I got wrong and would love to add links to reputable sources when I have more time.

Some vegans and vegetarians will complain, “We never said diet is the only thing that affects a person’s health! We know that exercise, stress, and sleep are important, too!” Yeah, but when you blame people for having health problems, “even though we told them they should go vegan, but they just won’t listen,” that’s the way you make it sound.

With school, work and family obligations, activities of daily living like cooking and cleaning, personal hygiene, paying bills, etc, plus time for hobbies and other things a person enjoys, its actually really tough to do “all the things” required for optimal health.

Life isn’t easy. That’s why I’m all for giving people a break. There’s no shame in not being able or ready to do whatever it is that someone else thinks you “should” do. What’s more, maybe the other person is wrong about the “should” being a good thing for you. It’s your life, and you’re the one who best knows how to live it. 💓

That’s why, for me, the “ish” is a very important part of “Veganish.”

4 thoughts on “Mindfulness Meditation for Better Sleep, Lower Blood Pressure, and Reducing Anxiety

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  1. One time I did the Fitbit Meditation thing and my heart rate went up! Ha. My heart rate is generally in a healthy range. I didn’t know this until I googled it, but it’s normal for HR to vary for those with menstrual cycles. It’s lower during the first half, and tends to go up during the other half (luteal phase). I was a bit concerned that my RHR went from 64 to 68 when I’m doing healthier things now but that explained it. But I haven’t been able to give blood lately because last time i went, it was 125 because I was *slightly* nervous. I wasn’t like shaking or really dreading it. My HR is so sensitive to the suggestion of something out of the ordinary. Same way when I got it taken at the dentist. Like I struggle getting my heart rate that high on purpose with cardio. Sigh.

    1. Hello Heidi! I didn’t make the post very clear, I’m sure, but, my resting heart rate is about 58. I wasn’t talking about my resting heart rate decreasing because of the meditation, although perhaps it might. I have barely done any meditation. So I don’t think I would be able to see any long-term results from that yet. I may have done perhaps five meditation sessions, meaning 10 minutes before going to sleep.

      When I was talking about my heart rate going down because of the meditation, I was talking about the immediate right now heart rate. The app tracks one’s heart rate during the 10 minutes of the meditation session if one does the meditation through the app on the phone with the Fitbit on one’s wrist and synced to the phone. What I was talking about was the fact that my heart rate went down from something like 76 bpm to 62 bpm during the 10 minutes of the meditation session. That is very helpful to me if I’m about to go to sleep because it’s easier to get my heart rate while sleeping to be under my resting heart rate of 58 bpm if I’m starting out at 62 bpm at the beginning of my sleeping time instead of starting out at 76 bpm.

    2. Heidi, I also struggle with getting my heart rate to be above what they consider to be cardio which is around 125 bpm. When I’m biking or doing my bridge inspections, rock climbing, running, walking, or doing stairs, abs, push-ups, calisthenics, or even my step aerobics routine, rarely does my heart rate ever go above 125 bpm.

      So, even though I typically get more than 10,000 steps per day, my heart rate doesn’t go up very high. And apparently, for someone like myself, for preventing diabetes, I do need to get my heart rate up. I’m very active, eating very nutritious foods, and I’m not overweight, but, apparently, that’s not enough. According to my doctor’s I instructions, I need to actually be working out and exercising vigorously, for 30 minutes, five times a week.

      I’ve been working on this more for the past three months since I received the news from the doctor. However, it hasn’t been with no negative impact on my life. I have had less time to read books, and other hobbies that I enjoy, and I’ve had less time to sleep, quite frankly, because of trying to fit in the extra time for exercise that gets my heart rate up enough. I was already plenty active as it is, and when you add in the extra five sessions of 30 minutes of vigorous exercise on top of everything else, it definitely impacts my daily quality of life. It impacts it in a negative way because my schedule was already so full and it’s not a positive thing to have to take away from the other very positive things I was doing, to fit in these extra exercise sessions.

      So yes, while diabetes may be preventable for me with the extra exercise, it doesn’t come without a cost.

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