Heart rate variability (HRV) has become an increasingly popular index of cardiac autonomic control in the biobehavioral sciences due to its relationship with mental illness and cognitive traits. However, the intraindividual stability of HRV in response to sleep and diurnal distur- bances, which are commonly reported in mental illness, and its relationship with executive function are not well understood. Here, in 40 healthy adult males we calculated high fre- quency HRV—an index of parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) activity—using pulse oximetry during brain imaging, and assessed attentional and executive function perfor- mance in a subsequent behavioral test session at three time points: morning, evening, and the following morning. Twenty participants were randomly selected for total sleep depriva- tion whereas the other 20 participants slept as normal. Sleep deprivation and morning-to- night variation did not influence high frequency HRV at either a group or individual level; however, sleep deprivation abolished the relationship between orienting attention perfor- mance and HRV. We conclude that a day of wake and a night of laboratory-induced sleep deprivation do not alter supine high frequency HRV in young healthy male adults.
Quintana, D.S., Elvsåshagen, T., Zak, N., Norbom L.B., Pedersen, P.Ø., Quraishi, S.H., Bjørnerud, A., Malt, U.F., Groote, I.R., Kaufmann, T., Andreassen, O.A., Westlye, L.T. (2017). Diurnal Variation and Twenty-four Hour Sleep Deprivation do not Alter Supine Heart Rate Variability in Healthy Male Young Adults. PLOS ONE. 12(2): e0170921, DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.017092