Association of Drivers’ sleepiness with heart rate variability: A Pilot Study with Drivers on Real Roads

  • Farhad AbtahiEmail author
  • Anna Anund
  • Carina Fors
  • Fernando Seoane
  • Kaj Lindecrantz
Conference paper
Part of the IFMBE Proceedings book series (IFMBE, volume 65)


Vehicle crashes lead to huge economic and social consequences, and one non-negligible cause of accident is driver sleepiness. Driver sleepiness analysis based on the monitoring of vehicle acceleration, steering and deviation from the road or physiological and behavioral monitoring of the driver, e.g., monitoring of yawning, head pose, eye blinks and eye closures, electroencephalogram, electrooculogram, electromyogram and electrocardiogram (ECG), have been used as a part of sleepiness alert systems. Heart rate variability (HRV) is a potential method for monitoring of driver sleepiness. Despite previous positive reports from the use of HRV for sleepiness detection, results are often inconsistent between studies. In this work, we have re-evaluated the feasibility of using HRV for detecting drivers’ sleepiness during real road driving. A database consists of ECG measurements from 10 drivers, driving during morning, afternoon and night sessions on real road were used. Drivers have reported their average sleepiness level by using the Karolinska sleepiness scale once every five minutes. Statistical analysis was performed to evaluate the potential of HRV indexes to distinguish between alert, first signs of sleepiness and severe sleepiness states. The results suggest that individual subjects show different reactions to sleepiness, which produces an individual change in HRV indicators. The results motivate future work for more personalized approaches in sleepiness detection.


Sleepiness Karolinska Sleepiness Scale Heart Rate Variability personalization 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Farhad Abtahi
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Anna Anund
    • 4
  • Carina Fors
    • 4
  • Fernando Seoane
    • 1
    • 3
    • 5
    • 6
  • Kaj Lindecrantz
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.School of Technology and HealthRoyal Institute of Technology (KTH)StockholmSweden
  2. 2.Institute of Environmental MedicineKarolinska InstituteStockholmSweden
  3. 3.Department of Clinical Science, Intervention and TechnologyKarolinska InstituteStockholmSweden
  4. 4.The Swedish Road and Transport Research Institute (VTI)LinköpingSweden
  5. 5.Swedish School of TextilesUniversity of BoråsBoråsSweden
  6. 6.Department of Biomedical EngineeringKarolinska University Hospital SolnaStockholmSweden

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