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Shift Work and HRV reliability

 I work shift work as a Police officer - I wanted to use the HRV as a recovery monitoring tool.

I've just had three hours sleep and my reading is 20 points higher than yesterdays (84>104) - my readiness to train shows a green light.

I would have thought that 3 hours sleep is NOT optimal to train at maximal load / intensity....

Does shift work (with irregular sleep cycles - nothing like working consistent shift work patterns) make the HRV readings invalid?

Feedback from Howie, Joel or any who's also had this issue would be great!

Many thanks,


 Peter, quick question, on your 20 point swing, did you show green on your web app as well as your phone app?  Also, what is your normal HRV range? 

It would make sense that your HRV was high as you were still recovering from your shift.  I would have guessed it would have at least been an amber for your readiness.  Remember, HRV is just one tool to help manage your training.  You know that on 3 hours sleep, even if it's a good 3 hours, you should still heed caution in regards to your training.

HRV is still valid with irregular sleep cycles, as long as you are taking your reading as close to the same time each day.  There's also a good chance that your ability to handle stress is pretty high, hence the high HRV score.  

Howie, thank you for taking time to reply!

I saw both green on phone and webb app.

The kicker is I can't take an HRV reading the same time everyday - do you still think that the HRV results will produce meaningful feedback?

Many thanks,



I work a night shift 7pm -7am and its impossible for me to take readings at the same time everyday as well. Guess I have the same question as Peter...will the HRV results provide meaningful feedback for us with irregular work schedules and sleep patterns?


Hey Mark - Howie was kind enough to elaborate on how HRV with shift work (i.e. inconsistent HRV measurement timings) could still be of value with selecting an appropriate training load.

My thoughts are that, even if my readiness shows green but my brain is 'dead' from sleep deprivation and sleep cycle disruption I'll take it easy in training.

I use the HRV as a complimentary tool with my 'mental readiness to train' so to speak. Hope that helped you in some way!

All the best, Peter


Peter, well stated.  It is always best to listen to your intuition when it comes to training.... unless you're trying to find a way out!!  Even if your HRV readiness shows green and you are mentally wiped out, it is definitely best to pull back the reigns a bit.  Being healthy should be the most important goal for all of us.  If that means missing a training session every now and again that's quite alright in the long run.  I know that we all train for different reasons and have different goals, but I still believe staying healthy is the most important facet of training.


Thanks guys, I'm a big believer in listening to your body to help stay injury free. Todays reading showed a big improvement after a decent night of sleep with a resting heart rate 57.

Compared to rhr in the 60s and 70s after working nights and 3,4,5 hrs of sleep. I know not to push hard on those days.

Right now I'm working on cardio output (roadwork 2.0) which is pretty low intensity. Would like to get in 30 minutes on days I am working and 90 minutes on my off days.

Thanks Howie, Peter for your input.


You're welcome.


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