Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
We've weighed in on our most frequently asked questions below. If you're looking for more detailed information, or if your questions isn't listed here, feel free to chat with us by clicking the chat icon.
What is Heart Rate Variability (HRV)?
Techically Heart Rate Variability is the difference in times between heart beats. The more fit and recovered you are, the greater the difference in times between heart beats. Under stress, HRV drops signaling the body to release resources to deal with the perceived stress. If this occurs constantly, chronically, it create problems for us. Stress is important, but recovery is as well. When an individual establishes a cycle of planned eustress (good stress, exercise for example) and quality recovery, HRV measurements will increase.
What is a Normal HRV Range?
There is not a "normal" range for HRV. It is different for everyone. If you're measuring HRV, you want to establish you own personal baseline, then work to improve that.
How do You Measure HRV?
HRV is measured either through the analysis of an electro cardiogram (ECG) or with a technology called photophesmography (PPG). PPG shines light through the skin and measures the pulse rate of red blood cells. If a wearable technology uses a chest strap, it's using ECG and this is considered the gold standard. If a wearable is worn on the wrist or finger, its using PPG. To date, it has proven to be very challenging to measure highly accurate HRV using PPG techniques.
How can I Improve My HRV?
Improving HRV is a combination of reducing the effect of perceived stress while increasing fitness and recovery. Begin by fixing your sleep environment. Most wearables supply a sleep score and you should work on improving that first. Increasing appropriate volumes and intensities of exercise. Practicing a/some form of mindfulness, controlled breathing, meditation, or gratitude practice helps boost recovery. Alcohol has a strong negative effect on HRV and it's also important to stay hydrated. Spending time in nature has been shown to improve HRV scores as well.
What Affects HRV?
HRV simply tells you the overall state of your nervous system, chronic inflammation is a big driver of poor HRV. Taking note of your lifestyle factors, like sleep quality, exercise habits, diet, etc. are important. By tracking these, particularly, sleep and exercise, will enable you to identify how different behaviors are affecting you, and make adjustments to better support your mental and physical health.
How Does Alcohol Affect HRV?
Alcohol has a STRONG negative effect on HRV. In a clinical exam of college wrestlers, 4 beers consumed prior to bed resulted in the quality of overall sleep time being cut in half! Eight hours of sleep + 4 beers = equivalent of 4 hours of normal sleep recovery.
Why is My HRV so Low?
Low HRV is an indication that your nervous system is being controlled by the fight or flight side of the autonomic system. Poor sleep, poor fitness, not managing stress, too much alcohol consumption, chronic inflammation and nutritional deficiencies can all be part of low HRV.
When is the Best Time to Measure HRV?
The best time to measure HRV is at the same time everyday. Some modern wearable technology is able to measure HRV during sleep, this is preferred. But if you use a technology that requires measurement during the day, first thing in the morning is best. It would also be appropriate for athletes to measure HRV prior to daily practice sessions.
How is HRV Different During Sleep?
Sleep is the primary tool we have for recovery. So with quality sleep, HRV improves overnight. During the day, when we are conscious of our environment, perceived stress can lower HRV scores.
How Does HRV Change With Age?
HRV typically declines with age. Organizations that measure HRV in large groups over time see nearly a 50% decline in HRV between the ages of 25-40 and 50-70. There is typically an accompaning drop in fitness levels in those groups as well. Maintaining fitness levels is an important part of maintaining or improving HRV as we age.
What Can I Expect From HRV+
HRV+ by Mode+Method supplies nutrients that enhance the endocannabinoid system's ability to respond to stress as well as nutrients that will help lower inflammation.