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Cardiac autonomic activity during simulated shift workShift work leads to adverse health outcomes including increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Heart rate (HR) and heart rate variability (HRV) arc measures of cardiac autonomic activity and markers of cardiovascular disease and mortality. To investigate the effects of shift work on cardiac autonomic activity, we assessed the influence of simulated night work on HR and HRV, and dissociated the direct effects of circadian misalignment from those of sleep displacement and altered physical activity patterns. A total of 29 subjects each participated in one of two in-laboratory, simulated shift work studies. In both studies, EKG was continuously monitored via Holter monitors to measure HR and the high frequency (HF) component of HRV (HF-HRV). We found endogenous circadian rhythmicity in HR and HF-HRV. Sleep and waking physical activity, both displaced during simulated night work, had more substantial, and opposite, effects on HR and HF-HRV. Our findings show systematic but complex, interacting effects of time of day, sleep/wake state, and physical activity on cardiac autonomic activity. These effects need to be taken into account when evaluating HR and HRV in shift work settings and when interpreting these measures of cardiac autonomic activity as markers of cardiovascular disease.