Best Time of Day to Measure Your Height

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Being a Professor in Human Development, specializing in height, I get asked this question all the time. As you probably know already, your height varies between morning and night. People who do not know this probably think that they are making errors when measuring their height, but as your height can vary by up to 2cm or 3/4 inch the difference in your height throughout the day can be confusing to some.

Why an accurate measurement is important

Our height velocity (the rate at which we grow taller) is extremely slow. The fastest rate most males will achieve in their life is around 3 to 4 inches per year, usually between the ages of 13 and 14. Due to this slow rate of growth, there is simply no need for those in their teenage years to measure their height more often than once a month. Even in this small time period the maximum that anyone would grow is just over quarter of an inch. This means that when we do take our height measurement, we want it to be as accurate as possible, especially if we want to plot our height on nice growth curves as the months and years go by. When you get older, there's nothing better than looking back at your growth curves. Thankfully my father started plotting mine very early on in my life, which I have done for my children. Any parents reading this should take note, as once the opportunity has gone, the data is lost forever.

So, the best time of day to measure your height is?

Height Loss

As you needn't measure your height regularly, make sure you do it as close to perfect as you possibly can. There are two methods which are commonly used. The first is to take your morning height (straight out of bed) and add this to your night height just before going to bed, then divide it by two. This gives a 'mean average'. The problem with this method is that it does not take into account the fact that our height decreases exponentially throughout the day.

Look at the chart on the right and you will notice most of our height loss happens earlier in the day, so we spend most of the day at our lower range. This means that our morning 'out of bed' height is skewing the results and making us think we are slightly taller than we really are. Researchers such as myself, where possible use an alternative method. That is to measure your height at around 7 hours after stepping out of bed. During this time, your height is not being skewed by your night of lying down, nor has it undergone compression.

measure your height at around 7 hours after stepping out of bed...

Why do we lose height during the day?

Humans lose height from morning to night due to compression of the spinal column. The spine contains 23 discs between our vertebrae. These discs absorb vibrations passing through our body, without them our bones would crunch together and we would be so rigid we couldn't possibly move. They act in a similar way to suspension on cars, however due to discs being comprised of soft cartilage, they wear down very quickly and rely on a good night sleep to repair. Also, just like anything else, as we get older the discs become less supple, thus we gradually lose height as we get older. So if you wonder why I'm still measuring my height at my age, it's because I am monitoring my gradual decline in height.

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Comments

admin's picture
I'm usually up at 7am, so 2pm is the best time to measure for me.

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