Of larks and hearts - morningness/eveningness, heart rate variability and cardiovascular stress response at different times of day.
Journal - Physiology & behavior
Inter-individual differences in the circadian period of physical and mental functions can be described on the dimension of morningness/eveningness. Previous findings support the assumption that eveningness is related to greater impulsivity and susceptibility to stress than morningness. Heart rate variability (HRV) serves as a physiological correlate of self- and emotional regulation and has not yet been investigated in relation to chronotypes. The study explores differences in HRV and other cardiovascular measures in morning- and evening-types at rest and under stress at different times of day (8-11a.m. or 4-7p.m.). Students (N=471) were screened for chronotype and n=55 females (27 morning- and 28 evening-types) were recruited for testing. These participants performed a mental arithmetic task while heart rate (HR) and blood pressure (BP) were recorded. Spectral components and a time-domain measure of HRV were calculated on HR data from resting and mental stress periods. Evening-types had significantly higher HR and systolic BP, but lower HRV than morning-types both at baseline and during stress. Stress induced in the evening had a significantly stronger impact on absolute and baseline corrected physiological measures in both chronotypes. The interaction of chronotype and testing time did not reach the level of significance for any of the dependent variables. The enhanced physiological arousal in evening-types might contribute to increased vulnerability to psychological distress. Hence, previous behavioral findings are supported by the physiological data of this study.Copyright Â© 2012. Published by Elsevier Inc.