The number of times your heart beats in one minute can tell a physician a lot about your health, including cardiovascular functioning, presence of infections and a snapshot of your overall fitness level. Your heart rate adapts to your daily activities -- including exercise and rest -- making the first reading of the morning indicative of your overall health after an extended period of rest.
Morning heart rate -- also known as a resting heart rate -- derives its name from the time of day it occurs. Before getting out of bed after an evening of sleep, the heart beats an average of 60 to 80 times per minute, according to the American Heart Association.
Your physical fitness, age, prescribed medications, activity level and body position can cause your morning heart rate to vary. Physically fit people tend to have lower resting heart rates than sedentary individuals. A trained athlete may have a morning heart rate as low as 40 beats per minute, explains physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist Edward R. Laskowski, M.D., with the Mayo Clinic.
Calculating your morning heart rate can help a physician or personal trainer determine your training target heart rate. This data lets you know if you're overtrained and how the heart adapts to your body's need for oxygen during exercise. A doctor may also calculate your morning heart rate during a hospital stay to alert him to the possibility of dehydration or infection, according to MedLine Plus.
A low morning heart rate indicates good cardiovascualr health and optimal heart function efficiency. Routinely high or extremely low morning heart rates accompanied by dizziness, fainting or shortness of breath suggest health problems. Individuals with morning heart rates exceeding 100 may have a condition known as tachycardia, which can increase the risk of stroke or cause sudden cardiac arrest or death. When the resting heart rate consistently dips below 60, you can experience bradycardia, a serious problem in which the heart doesn't pump enough oxygen-rich blood to the body.
Determining your morning heart rate requires a stopwatch and simple math before leaving the comfort of your bed. By counting the number of times your pulse beats -- on the underside of your wrist -- for 10 seconds and multiplying it by 6, you have your morning heart rate. Blood also pulses through your arteries at the back of your knees, on your neck, at the temples or near the groin.