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An Introduction to HRV

5 min read

An Introduction to HRV

Discover what Heart Rate Variability is and how you can use it to track your health


Heart Rate Variability (HRV) is having a moment in the scientific community. Why? Your heart displays more about the state of our nervous system than you may have thought! HRV provides a window into the balance between the parasympathetic (rest and digest) and sympathetic (fight or flight) branches of the autonomic nervous system. Knowledge about which branch is dominant can have a profound impact on your wellbeing. Sounds good, doesn’t it? We think so and got to work with our Scientists and Research & Development team to find out how we could tailor the NOWATCH experience to bring you the most useful insights into your HRV - such as informing you on the effects of a breathing exercise. 

HRV is the difference in time between each of your heartbeats, summarised by a mathematical formula (RMSSD). It helps us to understand how your body is responding to stress and relaxation. When you’re healthy and can manage stress well, your HRV is higher than when your body is struggling to manage stress. HRV can be extremely valuable for you to track due to the wide array of relationships that scientists have found, both mentally and physically. An increase in HRV has been linked to better health outcomes, such as reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, improved cognitive function, increased athletic performance, and feelings of safety and comfort.





Your lifestyle has a remarkable impact on your HRV. If you exercise regularly, eat a balanced diet, and get enough sleep, your HRV is likely to be higher. This indicates that your body may be more resilient to stress, and have an increased sense of subjective well-being.On the other hand, if you spend most of your day idle sitting and not getting the sleep your body needs, your HRV may be lower. A lower HRV may indicate that your body is less resilient to stress and has difficulty coping with it.

Every person has a unique HRV. By comparing your HRV with another person’s, you cannot conclude that the higher value is “better” than the lower. What’s most informative is whether your HRV changes over time, and whether your personal life-context may indicate that for you, HRV changes during stressful/better times. This may be a good point in time for you to start making the adaptations you need.

As we grow older, our HRV tends to decrease due to natural changes in our bodies. This is normal and expected. If somebody’s HRV reduces over the course of years, it could still be perfectly fine due to the influence of their age - context is everything. By analysing your personal lifestyle changes and changes in HRV, you can optimise your HRV and therefore your subjective and physical well-being. If your average HRV changes a lot within a year it is often related to lifestyle changes, not to you getting a few months older.


By always contextualising your personal life and events, NOWATCH keeps track of longer, gradual changes over time. HRV can be informative from minute to minute, from day to day, up until from year to year. 

In the morning, you can observe how your HRV has changed overnight. Generally, a good night of sleep should result in an increase in  HRV - this shows that your body is recovering well from the day’s stresses, and that it is getting ready for the next day. If you notice a different pattern, this may due to various causes, such as strenuous exercise or mental burden of the day before.  



Your NOWATCH continuously monitors your HRV, with the most accurate data collected during the night when your wrist remains still. Additionally, whenever you find yourself in moments of stillness throughout the day, your HRV will also be closely monitored.

Discover your own HRV patterns by ordering your NOWATCH in the Atelier.



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