Effects of night-time on-call work on heart rate variability before bed and sleep quality in visiting nurses

  • Yukiko Kikuchi
  • Noriko Ishii
  • Hideya KodamaEmail author
Original Article



In Japan, many visiting nurses work carrying cell phones to respond to calls from users even at night (on-call work). The purpose of this study was to investigate whether on-call work affected heart rate variability (HRV) before bed and decreased sleep quality in visiting nurses even if their sleep was not interrupted due to actual calls.


Thirty-one visiting nurses (mean age, 49.8 years; standard deviation, 6.3 years) were asked to record their 2.5-min resting HRV before bed, and to undergo one-channel sleep electroencephalography (EEG) and subjective sleep evaluations upon waking (Oguri, Shirakawa, and Azumi Sleep Inventory) at home for 4–5 consecutive days, including both on-call and non-on-call days. Paired data sets of outcome measures, including HRV parameters, sleep macrostructure variables, and subjective sleep quality scores between on-call and non-on-call days were compared; the most recent measurements for each category were used for each subject.


There were no differences in HRV measures and objective sleep EEG variables. A significant increase in “sleepiness on rising” and a decrease in “feeling refreshed” were observed on on-call days (P = 0.019 and 0.021, respectively), and younger subjects (≤ 51 years old) demonstrated a significant reduction in “sleepiness on rising” (significant interaction effect, P = 0.029).


Adverse effects of on-call work on sleep quality in most visiting nurses are thought to be subjective, and relatively young nurses tend to notice a decrease in sleep quality. On-call work itself does not appear to be a substantial stressor that could affect HRV and sleep structure.


Community-based care Visiting nurses Sleep quality Heart rate variability On-call work Job stress 



The authors would like to acknowledge the visiting nurses who kindly participated in this study. The present study was supported by Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (No. 15K11546) from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Akita University Graduate School of Medicine and Faculty of Medicine, School of Health SciencesAkitaJapan
  2. 2.Hokkaido University of Science, Faculty of Health SciencesHokkaidoJapan

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