Is a higher HRV always ‘better’?

A higher HRV is generally a good thing, but there are exceptions that the app picks up on. You want your HRV to gradually increase over time (weeks, months, years). If you have taken a few Morning Readiness readings, you know that your HRV can go up and down slightly from day to day. This is normal and generally healthy.

Most folks understand that if your HRV drops a significant amount, it indicates that you are likely experiencing abnormal amounts of stress (Sympathetic Nervous System activity). It is then recommended to prioritize rest and recovery for optimal long-term results. However, it is less intuitive that the same can be said if your HRV rises a significant amount in a short period of time. If your HRV rises abnormally high (above a certain standard deviation) within a day or a few days, the app indicates with a yellow or red that you are likely experiencing abnormal amounts of recovery (Parasympathetic Nervous System activity). This is often in response to accumulated amounts of stress.

Here are a few scenarios resulting in a high HRV score paired with a yellow or red readiness indicator:

  • Overtraining – Overreaching and over-training can occur when you repeatedly experience a level of stress that your body can’t recover from. This often registers as decreasing HRV over the course of a few days, followed by a sharp increase in HRV suddenly one day. This happens because, at a certain point, your body reaches a threshold where it has to stop prioritizing the fight or flight stress response and goes into a deep recovery.
  • Mild sickness
  • Change in exercise routine
  • Change in sleep patterns

It is important for your body to go into deep recovery mode if it needs it. If you interrupt this process, you pose the risk of overtraining and/or not recovering fully from whatever stress your body is recovering from. This can have negative impacts on training improvements and longer-term health.

One way Spren tries to help you better understand your HRV scores in relation to your Autonomic Nervous System status is through our Autonomic Balance Gauge, Readiness Color Indicator, and Readiness Score. These additional readiness indicators increase the clarity of what the HRV score means.

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