Relationships between resting heart rate, heart rate variability and sleep characteristics among female collegiate cross-country athletes

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
William M. Adams, Assistant Professor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:

Abstract: Even though sleep has been shown to be influenced by athletes’ training status, the association with resting heart rate and heart rate variability remains unclear. The purpose of this study was to compare the changes in and relationships between resting heart rate, heart rate variability and sleep characteristics across a female collegiate cross-country season. Ten NCAA Division I collegiate female cross-country athletes (mean ± SD; age, 19 ± 1 year; height, 167.6 ± 7.6 cm; body mass, 57.7 ± 10.2 kg; VO2max, 53.3 ± 5.9 ml kg-1 min-1) participated in this study. Resting heart rate, heart rate variability and the percentage of time in slow wave sleep were captured using a wrist-worn multisensor sleep device throughout the 2016 competitive cross-country season (12 weeks). Linear mixed-effects models and magnitude-based inferences were used to assess differences between each week. Pearson product moment correlations were used to investigate relationships between variables. Resting heart rate at the end of the season, specifically during weeks 10–12 (mean ± SE; week 10, 48 ± 2; week 11, 48 ± 3; week 12, 48 ± 3), showed a practically meaningful increase compared to the beginning of the season, weeks 2–4 (week 2, 44 ± 2; week 3, 45 ± 2; week 4, 44 ± 2). Higher resting heart rate (r = 0.55) and lower heart rate variability (r = -0.62) were largely associated with an increase in percentage of time spent in slow wave sleep. These data suggest that when physiological state was impaired, meaning the physiological restorative demand was higher, the percentage of time in slow wave sleep was increased to ensure recovery. Thus, it is important to implement sleep hygiene strategies to promote adequate slow wave sleep when the body needs physiological restoration.

Additional Information

Journal of Sleep Research. 2019;28(6):e12836
Language: English
Date: 2019
actigraphy, autonomic nervous system, physiological restoration

Email this document to