20 Feb Night-Time Heart Rate Variability during an Expedition to Mt Everest: A Case Report
Mt Everest has been gaining popularity from casual hiking athletes, climbers, and ultra-endurance marathon runners. However, living and sleeping at altitude increases the risk of injury and illness. This is because travel to high altitudes adversely affects human physiology and performance, with unfavourable changes in body composition, exercise capacity, and mental function. This is a case report of a climber who reached the summit of Mt Everest from the north side.
During his 40-day expedition, we collected sleep quality data and night-time heart rate variability. During the night inside the tent, the air temperature ranged from −12.9 to 1.8 °C (−5.8 ± 4.9 °C) and the relative humidity ranged from 26.1 to 78.9% (50.7 ± 16.9%). Awake time was 17.1 ± 6.0% of every sleep-time hour and increased with altitude (r = 0.42). Sleep time (r = −0.51) and subjective quality (r = 0.89) deteriorated with altitude. Resting heart rate increased (r = 0.70) and oxygen saturation decreased (r = −0.94) with altitude. The mean NN, RMSSD, total power, LF/HF, and SD1 and SD2 were computed using the NN time series. Altitude reduced the mean ΝΝ (r = −0.73), RMSSD (r = −0.31), total power (r = −0.60), LF/HF ratio (r = −0.40), SD1 (r = −0.31), and SD2 (r = −0.70).
In conclusion, this case report shows that sleeping at high altitudes above 5500 m results in progressively reduced HRV, increased awakenings, as well as deteriorated sleep duration and subjective sleep quality. These findings provide further insight into the effects of high altitude on cardiac autonomic function and sleep quality and may have implications for individuals who frequently spend time at high altitudes, such as climbers.
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