Automatic sleep-stage classification of heart rate and actigraphy data using deep and transfer learning approaches

Yaopeng J.X. Ma, Johannes Zschocke, Martin Glos, Maria Kluge, Thomas Penzel, Jan W. Kantelhardt, Ronny P. Bartsch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Manual sleep-stage scoring based on full-night polysomnography data recorded in a sleep lab has been the gold standard of clinical sleep medicine. This costly and time-consuming approach is unfit for long-term studies as well as assessment of sleep on a population level. With the vast amount of physiological data becoming available from wrist-worn devices, deep learning techniques provide an opportunity for fast and reliable automatic sleep-stage classification tasks. However, training a deep neural network requires large annotated sleep databases, which are not available for long-term epidemiological studies. In this paper, we introduce an end-to-end temporal convolutional neural network able to automatically score sleep stages from raw heartbeat RR interval (RRI) and wrist actigraphy data. Moreover, a transfer learning approach enables the training of the network on a large public database (Sleep Heart Health Study, SHHS) and its subsequent application to a much smaller database recorded by a wristband device. The transfer learning significantly shortens training time and improves sleep-scoring accuracy from 68.9% to 73.8% and inter-rater reliability (Cohen's kappa) from 0.51 to 0.59. We also found that for the SHHS database, automatic sleep-scoring accuracy using deep learning shows a logarithmic relationship with the training size. Although deep learning approaches for automatic sleep scoring are not yet comparable to the inter-rater reliability among sleep technicians, performance is expected to significantly improve in the near future when more large public databases become available. We anticipate those deep learning techniques, when combined with our transfer learning approach, will leverage automatic sleep scoring of physiological data from wearable devices and enable the investigation of sleep in large cohort studies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107193
JournalComputers in Biology and Medicine
StatePublished - Sep 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Elsevier Ltd


  • Convolutional neural network
  • Deep learning
  • Epidemiological studies
  • Heart-rate variability
  • Sleep-stage scoring
  • Transfer learning
  • Wrist actigraphy


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