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Heart Rate Variability During Deep Sleep Offers a Time-Efficient Alternative to Morning Supine Measurements - A Study in World Class Alpine Skiers.

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Author Herzig David, Testorelli Moreno, Olstad Daniela Schäfer, Erlacher Daniel, Achermann Peter, Eser Prisca, Wilhelm Matthias,
Project Sleep onset and other state transitions: insights from quantitative EEG analysis
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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal International journal of sports physiology and performance
Page(s) 1 - 22
Title of proceedings International journal of sports physiology and performance
DOI 10.1123/ijspp.2016-0257


There is increasing popularity for athletes to use heart rate variability (HRV) to tailor training. A time-efficient method is HRV assessment during deep sleep. The aim was to validate the selection of deep sleep segments identified by RR-intervals with simultaneous electroencephalography (EEG) recordings and to compare HRV parameters of these segments with those of standard morning supine measurements. In 11 world class alpine- skiers, RR-intervals were monitored during ten nights and simultaneous EEGs were recorded in 2-4 nights. Deep sleep was determined from the HRV signal and verified by delta power from the EEG recordings. Four further segments were chosen for HRV determination, namely a 4-h segment from midnight to 4 am, and three 5 min segments: one just before awakening, one after awakening in supine position and one in standing after orthostatic challenge. Training load was recorded every day. A total of 80 night and 68 morning measurements of 9 athletes were analyzed. Good correspondence between the phases selected by RR-intervals versus those selected by EEG was found. Concerning root-mean-squared-difference of successive RR-intervals (RMSSD), a marker for parasympathetic activity, the best relationship with the morning supine measurement was found in deep sleep. HRV is a simple tool for approximating deep sleep phases and HRV measurement during deep sleep could provide a time-efficient alternative to HRV in supine position.