What to do without your usual post-dinner routines? A healthy replacement is to take a light, brisk walk. This will aid in digestion and, more importantly, help oxidize your body in preparation for a restful night’s sleep.
In a healthy individual, oxygen saturation rates should be 98%-100% during the day. If this is not the case, we can expect other vital markers, like heart rate, to be impacted over time. When your cells don’t get adequate oxygen, your heart has to work harder to pick up the slack. The adaptive response to less oxygen in the body is an elevated heart rate.
Tachycardia is one of the earliest signs of cardiovascular stress, and eventually, this can and will impact blood pressure. If your heart rate is chronically elevated because of poor oxygenation, the blood vessels — and their resistance to stretch — will negatively be impacted over time, as well.
So, one of the easiest ways to keep your heart healthy (and not overworked) is to make sure you are well-oxygenated. This is especially important as evening approaches because our oxygen saturation normally drops by 4–5% after dark. Assuming you are at 98% during the day, you can be as low as 93% come evening. (Those with oxygenation levels of less than 98% during the day will also have proportionately less oxygen at night.)
Again, this is concerning because as oxygen saturation goes down, heart rate increases. The heart works harder, and, over time, this can lead to hypoxia — a pathological decrease in oxygen to the body. In the brain, it can lead to cognitive impairment, cognitive decline, and even stroke.
You always want your brain to have adequate amounts of oxygen. What you do during the day allows you to get through the night. In otherwise healthy individuals, here are a few more easy ways to improve oxygenation overnight:
• Quit smoking if you haven’t already. This is a physical crime against your body
• A brisk walk daily for 30 minutes (bonus points for walks in the evening after dinner)
• Daily, focused breath work
• Don’t sleep on your back with a pillow flexing your head forward, obstructing your airway and destroying your cervical curve
• Add plants like snake plants or aloe vera to your bedroom — these plants typically absorb carbon dioxide overnight and release oxygen into the bedroom air.