Heart rate variability during sleep in healthy term newborns in the early postnatal period

O M Doyle, I Korotchikova, G Lightbody, W Marnane, D Kerins, G B Boylan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Citations (Scopus)


Normative time- and frequency-domain heart rate variability (HRV) measures were extracted during quiet sleep (QS) and active sleep (AS) periods in 30 healthy babies. All newborn infants studied were less than 12 h old and the sleep state was classified using multi-channel video EEG. Three bands were extracted from the heart rate (HR) spectrum: very low frequency (VLF), 0.01-0.04 Hz; low frequency (LF), 0.04-0.2 Hz, and high frequency (HF), >0.2 Hz. All metrics were averaged across all patients and per sleep state to produce a table of normative values. A noticeable peak corresponding to activity in the RSA band was found in 80% patients during QS and 0% of patients during AS, although some broadband activity was observed. The majority of HRV metrics showed a statistically significant separation between QS and AS. It can be concluded that (i) activity in the RSA band is present during QS in the healthy newborn, in the first 12 h of life, (ii) HRV measures are affected by sleep state and (iii) the averaged HRV metrics reported here could assist the interpretation of HRV data from newborns with neonatal illnesses.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)847-860
Number of pages14
JournalPhysiological Measurement
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2009


  • Heart Rate
  • Sleep
  • Humans
  • Electroencephalography
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Time Factors
  • Term Birth


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