Direct application of an ECG-based sleep staging algorithm on reflective photoplethysmography data decreases performance

M. M. van Gilst (Corresponding author), B. M. Wulterkens, P. Fonseca, M. Radha, M. Ross, A. Moreau, A. Cerny, P. Anderer, X. Long, J. P. van Dijk, S. Overeem

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: The maturation of neural network-based techniques in combination with the availability of large sleep datasets has increased the interest in alternative methods of sleep monitoring. For unobtrusive sleep staging, the most promising algorithms are based on heart rate variability computed from inter-beat intervals (IBIs) derived from ECG-data. The practical application of these algorithms is even more promising when alternative ways of obtaining IBIs, such as wrist-worn photoplethysmography (PPG) can be used. However, studies validating sleep staging algorithms directly on PPG-based data are limited. Results: We applied an automatic sleep staging algorithm trained and validated on ECG-data directly on inter-beat intervals derived from a wrist-worn PPG sensor, in 389 polysomnographic recordings of patients with a variety of sleep disorders. While the algorithm reached moderate agreement with gold standard polysomnography, the performance was significantly lower when applied on PPG- versus ECG-derived heart rate variability data (kappa 0.56 versus 0.60, p < 0.001; accuracy 73.0% versus 75.9% p < 0.001). These results show that direct application of an algorithm on a different source of data may negatively affect performance. Algorithms need to be validated using each data source and re-training should be considered whenever possible.

Original languageEnglish
Article number513
Number of pages5
JournalBMC Research Notes
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 10 Nov 2020


  • Heart rate variability
  • Polysomnography
  • Sleep disorders
  • Sleep staging
  • Validation
  • Wearable


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