The One Habit That Can Lower Your Blood Pressure Overnight, According to a Cardiologist

Almost half of adults in the U.S. have hypertension, and only about one in four of them have it under control, according to the CDC.

And that's a red flag, notes one Cleveland Clinic cardiologist. "Uncontrolled hypertension, [that is] high blood pressure, increases our risk for strokes, heart attacks, heart failure and kidney failure," says Dr. Luke Laffin, MD, the co-director of the Center for Blood Pressure Disorders at Cleveland Clinic.

But Dr. Laffin says people can take several effective medications to manage and lower blood pressure. In some cases, though, lifestyle tweaks may do the trick. He says one, in particular, can be very effective. Dr. Laffin revealed his top tip for lowering blood pressure fast, plus other remedies.

Related: This Is the #1 Best Habit for Blood Sugar Balance, According to an Endocrinologist

What Is Normal Blood Pressure?

Dr. Laffin says normal blood pressure is < 120/80 mm Hg. What does that mean in layperson's terms? First, mm Hg is short for "millimeters of mercury," which is what providers use as the standard unit to measure pressure, the American Heart Association (AHA) explains.

The 120 number stands for your systolic blood pressure or the pressure in your arteries as your heart beats. The 80 is your diastolic blood pressure, or the pressure your arteries experience during the resting period between beats. Your provider might tell you your blood pressure is "120 over 80." That means your blood pressure falls into the "elevated" category because you want your systolic number under 120.

This straightforward table has the most recent guidelines from the AHA, released in 2017.


Less than 120


Less than 80




Less than 80

High blood pressure (stage 1)




High blood pressure (stage 2)

140 or higher


90 or higher

Hypertensive crisis

Higher than 180


Higher than 120

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What Is the Best Way To Lower Blood Pressure?

Decrease dietary sodium intake, according to Dr. Laffin. "Aim for less than 2,300 mg daily—ideally less than 1,500 mg daily," Dr. Laffin says.

That's far less than what the average American consumes daily, which Dr. Laffin says is more than 3,400 mg, something the AHA also points out.

"A low-sodium diet is equivalent to taking one to two blood pressure-lowering medications," Dr. Laffin says. "Further, certain BP-lowering medications do not work nearly as effectively if someone is consuming a high-sodium diet."

Science agrees. Research from 2019 indicates that high sodium intake increases blood pressure, partly because of water retention and changes to the structure and function of specific arteries. A 2013 systematic review found that lowering salt intake could also reduce blood pressure.

Related: This Is the #1 Unexpected Way Your Body May Be Telling You That You Have High Blood Sugar

How To Lower Salt Intake

"Don't fall into the trap of thinking that you are not consuming sodium if you are not using a salt shaker," Dr. Laffin says.

Sodium is hidden in products as it retains moisture, thickens and preserves food. The FDA also points out that "some foods that don't taste salt can still be high in sodium."

Dr. Laffin suggests avoiding processed foods and reading labels, which will reveal the amount of sodium in a specific product. It's a better gauge than a taste test. Certain foods may have claims of "low-sodium" or "reduced sodium." The FDA has guidance on what those terms mean.

Salt/sodium free

Less than 5 mg of sodium/serving

Very low sodium

35 mg or less of sodium/serving

Low sodium

140 mg or less of sodium/serving

Reduced sodium

At least 25% less sodium than the standard product

Light in sodium/Lightly salted

At least 50% less sodium than the standard product

No-salt added/Unsalted

No salt added during processing (May still contain salt/sodium unless otherwise stated)

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Other Ways To Lower Blood Pressure

Diet can play a significant role in lowering or maintaining blood pressure numbers. However, Dr. Laffin says that other lifestyle habits can also help, including:

  • Maintaining a standard body weight

  • Getting 6 to 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night

  • Avoiding excessive alcohol consumption

  • Regular aerobic physical activity

Research from 2017 indicates that weight loss is associated with decreased blood pressure. Gaining weight was linked to an increased risk of uncontrolled hypertension. A 2018 study in the Journal of the American Heart Association noted that lack of sleep increased blood pressure. However, the researchers also found that common but too-often ignored sleep disturbances, including poor sleep quality, were linked to higher blood pressure in women even if they were logging the appropriate number of hours.

A 2020 study found that high alcohol consumption negatively affected blood pressure and heart rate, while research from 2018 indicated that exercise was an essential tool for blood pressure management. Dr. Laffin recommends aiming for 150 minutes per week of regular aerobic physical activity.

If you're concerned about your blood pressure, Dr. Laffin suggests consulting your physician."[People should] understand their numbers and discuss lifestyle and medications with their physician," Dr. Laffin says.

Next up: 7 Tricks to Tame Your Blood Pressure Quickly


  • Dr. Luke Laffin, MD, the co-director of the Center for Blood Pressure Disorders at Cleveland Clinic