HRV patterns using Heartmath’s emWave

A question we often hear from new users is ‘What do all those colors on the graph mean?

Occasionally you may see that the black line on the graph suddenly becomes red or blue as it moves across the screen. The black line shows the pattern of the Heart Rate Variability (HRV) that the emWave sensor measures.

HRV is the time interval between the heartbeats. Every little moment between each beat is different from the next and is constantly speeding up and slowing down. However, when we are stressed, this speeding up and slowing down is not happening in a consistent manner. If you see this pattern being created on the screen, it will look very jagged and irregular.

In our research on how emotions affect our physiology, we found that our HRV pattern varies dramatically when we experience positive emotions such as care or appreciation. The pattern that we then see on the screen will be show smooth curves as it moves over the screen. This pattern is what we call ‘coherence’, which synchronizes our heart, breath and brain. We experience more calm and balance during these times.
Occasionally, as the line on the graph moves up, the top of the graph is blue. This simply means that the line would otherwise be moving off the current screen. In order to see the curve better, the line will be blue where it actually goes above or below the current graph.

You might also encounter little red lines on your graph. This means that the sensor simply lost contact with the skin and didn’t detect the pulse. This could be because of a movement, or even when chewing gum! But ultimately, whether your graph has red, blue or black lines, the most important thing to remember is that activating a positive emotion is what brings coherence.


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1 thought on “HRV patterns using Heartmath’s emWave”

  1. What do the broken lines in my HRV graph mean? The blue hrv graph sometimes has “broken lines” that are light bluish or grey.


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