Sleep Medicine Epidemiology
Brigham and Women's Hospital · Harvard Medical School

Sleep Heart Health Study

The Sleep Heart Health Study is a multi-center cohort study implemented by the National Heart Lung & Blood Institute to determine the cardiovascular and other consequences of sleep-disordered breathing. It tests whether sleep-related breathing is associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, all cause mortality, and hypertension.

The SHHS1 dataset represents data from the baseline and first follow-up visits, collected on 6441 individuals between 1995 and 1998.

Participants were recruited from nine existing epidemiological studies in which data on cardiovascular risk factors had been collected previously. The “parent” cohorts include:

From these parent cohorts, a sample of participants who met the inclusion criteria (age 40 years or older; no history of treatment of sleep apnea; no tracheostomy; no current home oxygen therapy) was invited to participate in the baseline examination of the SHHS, which included an initial polysomnogram (SHHS-1). Several cohorts over-sampled snorers in order to increase the study-wide prevalence of sleep-disordered breathing. In all, 6441 individuals were enrolled between November 1, 1995 and January 31, 1998. During exam cycle 3 (January 2001- June 2003), a second polysomnogram (SHHS-2) was obtained in 3295 of the participants.

Polysomnograms were obtained in an unattended setting, usually in the homes of the participants, by trained and certified technicians. The recording montage consisted of:

The full details of the procedures for obtaining polysomnograms are found in [3].


  1. Quan, S.F., et al., The Sleep Heart Health Study: design, rationale, and methods. Sleep, 1997. 20(12): p. 1077-85.
  2. Lind, B.K., et al., Recruitment of healthy adults into a study of overnight sleep monitoring in the home: experience of the sleep heart health study. Sleep Breath, 2003. 7(1): p. 13-24.
  3. Redline, S., et al., Methods for obtaining and analyzing unattended polysomnography data for a multicenter study. Sleep, 1998: p. 759-767.
  4. Whitney, C.W., et al., Reliability of scoring respiratory disturbance indices and sleep staging. Sleep, 1998. 21: p. 749-758.
  5. Rechtschaffen, A. and A. Kales, A manual of standardized techniques and scoring system for sleep stages of human subjects. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1968. NIH Publication No. 204.
  6. The Atlas Task Force EEG arousals: scoring rules and examples. Sleep, 1992. 15: p. 173-184.

Data Access

  1. Visit and browse the National Sleep Resource Resource:
  2. Follow the steps to fill out a Data Access and Use Agreement:
  3. You will receive an email when your DAUA has been approved.
  4. Navigate to the Sleep Heart Health Study to download files and datasets,
  5. Browse existing tutorials to familiarize yourself with the site:

Participating Institutions