In podcasts and blogs, I’ve heard about heart rate variability, but honestly I’ve always skipped over it. It wasn’t a topic that necessarily caught my attention, until I did my research and my husband bought a heart rate variability machine, specifically the emWave2. We played around with it and I was pretty amazed & surprised how it worked. It’s something that can be really simple, but help you take back your health at the same time!
What Is Heart Rate Variability (HRV)?
Basically, heart rate variability is all about the time interval between heart beats. This little amount of time between heart beats can really dive into the health and function of the autonomic nervous system and cardiovascular system. It also can determine the stress fluctuations in your body, even if you don’t have outside symptoms of stress.
So, what does high or low HRV tell us?
The idea is that the higher the HRV, there are good different interval lengths between each heart beat. Which is what we want.
As Mark Sisson states on Mark’s Daily Apple,
In general, a high HRV indicates dominance of the parasympathetic response, the side of the autonomic nervous system that promotes relaxation, digestion, sleep, and recovery. The parasympathetic system is also known as the “feed and breed” or “rest and digest” system.
In a review in Neuroscience and Biobehavioral, it states how low HRV can be linked to an increased risk of all-cause mortality and is proposed to even be a biomarker for disease. A low HRV shows an imbalance of the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems and is an indicator of stress because they can’t function properly to provide a correct response.
Even in a study done with asthma patients, they had lower HRV. People that struggle with depression also has lower HRV and when they were using hypnosis as a treatment during major depression, HRV actually increased showing that this could positively effect their autonomic nervous system.
I was a little nervous trying it out. I wasn’t sure what to expect. What if I had lower HRV? That would stress me out itself! But it was interesting to see as well, how different things that I could be doing through during the day showed various coherence levels. Anything that was more stressful or anxious to me, I wasn’t as coherent and it affected the synchronization of my heart-brain health. When my husband made me laugh or I was just feeling happy, loved, etc, the coherence increased, which so did my HRV. It really goes to show that our emotions and thoughts can be root to many health issues. Over at the heartmath.org store where they sell HRV devices, they explained deeper about coherence,
High coherence is a state associated with positive emotional attitudes, which send signals to the brain that reduces reactions to stress and improves cognitive function, hormonal balance, immune response, coordination and reaction times, and your overall sense of well-being.When you experience stressful emotions such as tension, anxiety, irritation, or anger, your heart-rhythm pattern becomes incoherent, negatively affecting your health, brain function, performance and sense of well-being.
So yes, HRV is a great way to measure an important aspect of health of your nervous system and your heart. You can also improve your coherence by purchasing a HRV device, like the emWave2, to be aware of your coherence levels. And by increasing them, you can do meditation, breathing exercises, etc. It’s awesome because now I can recognize usually when my coherence is lower and what I need to do that works for me to increase it.
Have you ever used an HRV device?