CategoriesVagus Nerve 101

Why Vagal Tone Could Be the Key to Finding Balance in Your Life

Maybe you have an audiophile in your life who owns a stereo system that likely costs more than your car — and boasts a dizzying array of settings, knobs, and dials.

Or even more likely, perhaps you’ve ended up unwittingly fidgeting with the audio settings in your own car or TV while simply attempting to change the time. Regardless, you’re familiar with the idea and visual of adjusting settings such as bass and treble or even fine-tuning various equalizer frequencies to produce the ideal sound for your favorite track, and this reflects the delicate balance needed in our own bodies.

Finding the right balance is key. Your body has mechanisms to regulate key nervous systems and functions to ensure that critical messages are seamlessly sent and received throughout the body. This delicate balance contributes to a harmonious homeostasis, maintaining overall well-being.

Here’s a closer look at how this works, why it’s important, and the critical role played by your vagus nerve.

Watch Your (Vagal) Tone

We talk (and write) a lot about the vagus nerve at Truvaga. While more and more people are discovering how essential this largest cranial nerve is to our overall health, many folks are still in the dark about its starring role in wellness.

(As a quick refresher, this complex, bi-directional pathway from your brain to your gastrointestinal system impacts everything from digestion to heart rate, immunity, and stress.)

Just as we have many methods to measure the health of our cardiovascular system — from blood pressure to cholesterol levels — we can also monitor the activity of the vagus nerve. This is called vagal tone. The vagal tone reflects how well our nervous system regulates vital functions, ensuring our body’s systems perform optimally and we feel as we should. In other words, if you’re experiencing high vagal tone, then after enjoying your favorite meal, the vagus nerve triggers a slower heart rate and lower blood pressure, setting the stage for the relaxation and recovery that accompany textbook digestion.

A high vagal tone contributes to a balanced state, promoting physical and psychological well-being. Conversely, low vagal tone means something is out of alignment, and the vagus nerve is not providing the ideal “rest and digest” response. This misalignment is often the result of chronic stress, a state in which you’re operating in a mode where you feel perpetually bound to the “fight or flight” response. It’s not a fun way to navigate life’s daily challenges. And living like this can invite a range of unwanted health issues, the most severe of which include potential depression or cardiovascular conditions such as stroke.

Heart Rate Variability: What’s Healthy, What’s Not

One potential health benefit of high vagal tone is its positive effect on heart rate and heart rate variability (HRV). Heart rate variability refers to the fluctuation in time between heartbeats — and science has established a strong link between high vagal tone and high-frequency HRV.[1] This link indicates an ability to adapt to changes and maintain balance despite daily stressors.[2] On the other hand, low HRV suggests that we’re less resilient and are either struggling with health issues at that moment or that potential problems are around the bend. These challenges could range from diabetes to asthma and anxiety.

This raises the question: How can you reach a healthy spectrum of vagal tone and achieve higher-frequency HRV? Proven techniques include deep breathing, yoga, and meditation. A holistic approach incorporating diet, exercise, and stress management can also help you achieve optimal levels.

However, a word of caution: don’t overdo it. While we’ve emphasized the importance of a balanced approach, this is especially crucial when developing a fitness routine. Excessive exercise can lead to distress, causing more harm than good and undermining your efforts to stay on a healthy track.[3]

It’s Science, But It’s Not New

These findings around vagal tone and HRV may be new to you; we get it. But they’ve been making the rounds for quite a while. You can trace the science back well before Otto Loewi won the Nobel Prize for discovering the connection between the vagus nerve and slowing heart rhythm.[3] And that was in 1936.

What is new is the availability of innovations to help optimize your vagus nerve function and, hence, boost your vagal tone. That’s where Truvaga comes in — and we have proven, easy-to-use solutions to help complement your healthy new routine. We promise they’re much easier to operate than that stereo system your friend owns, which takes up an entire bookshelf and requires a ladder to adjust. “Good Vibrations” sounds just fine on our smartphone speaker.


[1] NIH National Library of Medicine, Vagus Nerve Stimulation and the Cardiovascular System,

[2] Cleveland Clinic, Heart Rate Variability (HRV),

[3] Christopher Bergland, Psychology Today, Take It Easy: Too Much Exercise Frazzles the Vagus Nerve,