The Best Sleep & Activity Tracker? Oura Ring Review
One of my favorite aspects of biohacking is the ability to quantify TONS of data about what is going on in my body as it relates to health and wellness.
You could say that I’m rather obsessed with the Quantified Self movement.
While I don’t collect anywhere near as much data as I used to, I’m always on the lookout for new ways to measure how I’m doing. That has included things like:
- Chest Strap Heart Rate Monitors
- Glucose and Ketone Meters
- Blood Pressure Cuffs
- Skulpt Body Analyzer
- Neurofeedback Devices
- Sleep Trackers
There are many other things that I have used and still use quite frequently to keep a close eye on my health and activity levels.
The only issue is that I need so many different devices to track all these different variables. Let’s take a look at what a typical day of tracking used to look like for me (keep in mind that I don’t always track all of these variables).
As soon as I wake up, I turn off Sleep Cycle on my phone when I use to track and hack my sleep. Then I go stand on my FitBit Aria scale which measures my weight and body fat % (thats after I take my morning pee). After that I strap on a heart rate monitor and check my HRV to let me know how my nervous system is doing. I use it for two main reasons:
- It usually gives me a warning of a sickness coming on. Sometimes it’s more than 24 hours before I start noticing symptoms. This gives me a head start on being proactive with supplements and other hacks to boost my immune system.
- It lets me know how rigorous of a workout I should be doing that day. If my HRV has dropped significantly I know that I better take the day to rest and recover.
After that I check my HRV I go downstairs and take my blood pressure and temperature. After that, I sometimes check my glucose and ketone levels depending on what I have been doing lately.
While the Oura Ring doesn’t eliminate all of them, it takes care of a few of them and it also allows me to not use my FitBit and some of my exercise tracking devices and apps.
Ever since I heard about the Oura Ring a few years ago, I’ve debated whether to get one or not.
Well… I finally pulled the trigger.
The dashboard is the main screen within the app. Here you can get and overview of your scores for sleep, activity and readiness.
What I really like about this dashboard is that it not only shows you your scores, it also gives recommendations and positive and negative feedback about how you have been doing.
From here you can access all the important details available within the sleep, activity and readiness sections.
It also shows you the charge level of your ring and will remind you when you need to charge it. I try to charge my ring every morning as I am standing at my computer working. It usually only takes about 30 minutes.
You can also get to the settings and set different parameters for notifications, personal data and connect it with Apple’s Health app.
One thing I would like to see on an upcoming update of the app is the ability to import more information into the Health app.
As of right now, it does not sync your steps, exercise, or much else about your activity as well as not syncing your body temp.
What does it measure?
We all know sleep is a super important variable to our overall health and wellbeing. Even if you’re getting the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep every night, you may not be well rested.
While there are TONS of apps and devices out there that can measure and track your sleep quality, not many of them even begin to measure up to the accuracy of the Oura Ring. NONE that I have found measure all of the variables that the the ring measures.
Here’s what the Oura Ring measures when it relates to sleep:
- Total Sleep– Explanation needed? I didn’t think so..
- Sleep Efficiency– This is basically just your sleep quality. It is the percentage of time you are actually asleep after you go to bed.
- Disturbances– Hopefully this one doesn’t need an explanation, but it’s just how much you either woke up or had restless sleep throughout the night.
- Sleep Timing– This is a basic measurement of your circadian rhythm. You get the best score in this area if the midpoint of your sleep falls between midnight and 3 am.
- Sleep Latency– This is just the amount of time that it takes you to fall asleep. Ideally this should be between 15-20 minutes.
- Deep Sleep– This is the 4th stage of your sleep cycle. While all sleep stages are important, this is the most restorative cycle and allows you to recover from the previous day and is also when much of new muscle growth takes place. Most adults spend 15-20% of their time of sleep in this stage. If you wake up still feeling tired and sore, you might not be getting enough deep sleep.
- REM Sleep– Rapid Eye Movement sleep is 5th and last stage of a sleep cycle. This is when dreams occur and also the stage your brain uses to consolidate memories. For most people, REM sleep accounts for 1.5-2 hrs or 20-25% of your total time asleep at night if you’re a healthy adult.
- Resting Heart Rate– Your resting heart rate is a great indicator of your sleep quality, recovery and your overall health. The Oura ring measures your heart rate throughout the night and then uses the lowest 10 minute average of the night. How high our low it is can be influenced by many different things including nutrition, environment, physical activity and many other things. Normal range is 40-100 BPM, which is quite a large range, but by consistently tracking YOUR “normal” you can narrow that range down quite a bit.
- Body Temperature– This isn’t specifically related to your sleep quality but taking your temperature while you and tracking trends over time can give you insights in to your sleep quality and how your body is recovering.
There are also graphs below all of the stats that show at what times I entered each sleep phase and also what percentage of time I spent in each.
I absolutely love it!
Taking all of these variables in to account the app on your phone then spits out your sleep score. This sleep score contributes in a big way to the next area of health that you are scored on which is readiness.
If you’ve read my article about my morning routine, you’ll already know that I am a HUGE fan of tracking my HRV or heart rate variability every morning. Tracking this over time gives me great insights in to the health of my nervous system. When my HRV drops, I know that I have either been training to hard and need to take it easy for a day or two to recover, or that my body is battling some sickness or infection and I need to address that.
The Oura Ring has taken that step out of my morning routine because it checks my HRV automatically.
YAY!!! No more having to strap on a chest strap HR monitor every morning to check it.
Here is a list of factors that contribute to your readiness score within the Oura app.
- Previous Night– The Oura app takes in to account the quality of sleep from the previous night.
- Sleep Balance– Similar to the previous night except that it takes in to account how well you have been sleeping for the past two weeks.
- Previous Day– This uses your level of physical activity from the day before.
- Activity Balance– Like the sleep balance, this takes in to account the last few days of activity.
- Body Temperature– This is where the Oura Ring really starts to shine. Using an average of all your previous nights, this records your body temperature while you sleep to help to gauge your readiness. If you body temperature falls to far outside of your normal range, it will have a negative impact on your readiness score.
- Resting Heart Rate– This is another great feature of the Oura Ring. Measuring your lowest resting heart rate while sleeping is impossible without wearing a chest strap HR monitor or some of the fitness bands. The problem is that all of these emit some type of EMF, usually from Bluetooth which can have negative impacts on your sleep. Not so with the ring. Read further to find out why.
- Recovery Index– Your recovery index is how long it takes your resting heart rate to stabilize during the night. When you are well rested, this will usually take place during the first half of the night.
- Heart Rate Variability– As I stated above, checking your HRV is one of the things I love about this device. HRV measures the activity of your Autonomic Nervous System. If your body or mind is under stress, it will show up as a decrease in your HRV.
All of these factors are included in your readiness score. Any score above 85% means that you are well recovered and that you can engage in a any type of exercise you see fit. Between 70%-85% means that you aren’t that well rested so if you decide to exercise you should keep it to low-medium intensity. Anything below 70% means that you you probably limit you exertion.
As the name suggests, this keeps tracks of how active you are throughout the day. The thing that really sets this apart from other activity trackers is that it takes in to account how active you were on previous days along with your sleep and readiness score and then recommends how much activity you should have that day.
Here are some of the parameters that it tracks.
- Stay Active– This is a measurement of how much you have moved around during the past 24 hours (not including sleep).
- Move Every Hour– This is of course like the one above but where the one above is your overall activity, this one works on an hourly basis. If you sit for longer than and hr, the app will notify you to get some movement in.
- Meet Daily Targets– Like I said, the app spits out daily recommendations for your activity level. This stat tracks how often you have reached this level in the past 7 days.
- Training Frequency– This measures not you actual movement, but using the HR monitor it displays how often you have gotten either medium of high intensity activity over the past week.
- Training Volume– Similar to the above mentioned stat, this one measure not how often but actually how much medium or high intensity exercise you have gotten over the past week.
- Recovery Time– This helps to keep track of how many days you take it a little bit easier to make sure you are fully recovered which leads to increased performance.
- Steps– No explanation needed. After wearing my FitBit and the Oura ring at the same time that they are very close in relation to daily step counts.
There is also a graph showing all of the hours of the day and how much you were active during certain parts. I really like this because I can look back and spot trends of when my activity level slumps and then figure out why.
One thing they just added with the last app update is a way to enter your own workouts and keep track of what type of workout it was.
This is one of the things I was most excited about when it came to the Oura Ring!!!!
This gives you the ability to turn the ring on airplane mode while you sleep or any other time for that matter!! Besides the questionable accuracy of many sleep trackers, the thing I disliked most about them was the Bluetooth or other types of EMF signals that you had to deal with. This not only can have a negative impact on your sleep but can also lead to other health concerns with long time exposure.
Is the Oura Ring the most advanced wearable available today just another overpriced FitBit?
That’s what I plan on finding out through my trial and use of the Oura Ring, but you can see just by looking at all that is measured above that this goes WAY above and beyond the FitBit or any other activity/sleep tracker available today.
This post will be updated regularly on how it’s going.
I’ve been using the ring for about 3 weeks so far and I am really enjoying the data that it is giving me so far.
If you’re interested in trying out the Oura Ring for yourself, head on over to http://ouraring.com and use the discount code primalhacker for 10% off.