I’ve been mentioning for a long time on the ‘gram that I’ve had a crap time sleeping recently. Well, that’s not entirely accurate. I’ve slept. Upwards of ten hours at a time, at times. What I didn’t get much of is rest and a feeling of overall health. I’d often wake after a long night of sleep feeling groggy and not rested, with no energy for the day ahead, and especially not for yoga. So when I discovered a wearable sleep tracker ring that could help me pinpoint what I was doing wrong and help me fix it and finally get better sleep, I was all over it. And hey, if it’s a good enough wearable health tracker for Prince Harry, numsayin? Enter my Oura Ring review.
I’m sure many people can relate to this. I need a ton of physical activity to sleep well, but I also need enough sleep to have the energy for said physical activity. Not sleeping well leads to not exercising, which leads to not sleeping well, which leads to… you get the point. It’s a total Catch 22. So saying that my hopes were high for the Oura sleep monitor to help me find out what was wrong with my sleep is a bit of an understatement.
Were my unrestful sleep nights more impacted by my lack of exercising or was I doing more harm than good by exercising while running on empties? I was about to hopefully find out.
The Oura Smart Ring Review: Features
I’ll start my Oura ring review by saying it is a gorgeous wearable device. Almost looks like a chunky wedding ring. It’s a little thicker than most rings, but I’ve always been one to wear one bold yet minimalist piece of jewelry, and my Oura ring silver is exactly that. It’s available in three colors (and if you’re really cray, also available with a diamond) and two shapes. I have the Silver Heritage one. To make sure you have the perfect ring size, they send you a free sizing kit to find the right size first thing, which is neat. The ring is available in many different sizes too, perfect for sleep tracking with my teeny small size fingies. But hey, if you’ve got yourself a bit ol’ index finger, you won’t have a hard time — they got that too.
The Oura ring is made of titanium and carbon coating and is hypoallergenic and waterproof. The seamless inner molding includes infrared light optical pulse measurement (and good to know that Oura’s infrared sensors enable higher quality readings than the green light used in most wearables), a 3D accelerometer, a gyroscope, and body temperature sensors. The battery life lasts up to a week (edit: since last year, the battery life is more like 2-3 days) and takes only 20 minutes to recharge wirelessly.
Oura connects and syncs this biometric data to mobile devices via Bluetooth, and can store data for up to six weeks. Things that are tracked in the Oura app include detailed sleep data (the sleep score is an amalgamation of the duration of each: deep sleep, light sleep, and REM sleep), total sleep time, bedtime, resting heart rate, heart rate variability (from high to low HRV), respiratory rate, total time in bed, total time asleep, as well as sleep efficiency. It also connects to the Apple health app, Google Fit, and other health apps such as menstrual cycle trackers, which is a nice cross-functionality. Plus, the Oura ring website offers more tips and advice and access to their community.
The Oura App
The Oura ring app has a sleek design and does a great job at making the very many metrics digestible and understandable in the form of “Readiness Score” which makes interpreting the data a breeze. Readiness score refers to a calculation of all your stats from the past week and night taking into account your activity levels and how restful your sleep was, on a scale of 100. Based on that, the activity tracker will make a recommendation to rest or go all out for that day and lead to more in-depth graphs. The activity score is what I find the least helpful because I’m a very active person (even at rest, according to Oura), and often it congratulates me for achieving my daily activity goal while I’m just slouching on the sofa. I mean, ok, I guess ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Digging a little further inside the app allows seeing where there could have been issues on the previous days and nights. I, for example, often have a very low Oura Recovery Index. The Oura Recovery Index score refers to how long it takes for your heart rate to drop and stabilize during the night. The longer it takes for your heart to drop to its resting rate, the less restorative the night will be. Alcohol, a heavy meal before bed, or late exercise speed up the body’s metabolism and keep the heart rate elevated, which delays recovery and increases sleep needs. I’m kind of guilty of a few things here. And when I exercise too much, I tend to have a slightly elevated skin temperature, which the ring picks up on.
After not much time and through repeated use, the Oura app will aggregate much data on your sleep and your vital signs and start making precise recommendations about optimal bedtime and what could be a good level of activity for that day.
Oura Ring Reviews: One of the best sleep trackers?
So I’ll begin by saying this: the Oura sleep Ring looks fantastic and I love wearing it, even outside of what it does for me. I would have no problem wearing it even if it wasn’t tracking my snooze. I also hear that monitoring vital signs in the blood vessels closer to the palm is a lot more accurate than on the wrist.
Bear in mind though, Oura is not the same as fitness trackers or any Apple watch series. Sure, its accelerometer is a good indicator of how active you are and is especially helpful if, like me, you like to eat or train late at night or enjoy a late glass of wine once in a while. But for athletes or very active people in good general health, it might not be fully accurate as the data points during the day are a bit far and wide and it is in no way a faithful representation of real time activity. Also, it often perceives my yoga practice as inactive time, which it really isn’t. Not sure if the issue lies with the heart rate sensor or if my heart rate data is telling me I need to crank up the effort during yoga.
That said, my new Oura ring has been a good thing at helping me realize one thing that’s likely had a huge effect on my sleep quality, and that is the Recovery Index. And so, as strange as that might sound, I’ve now stopped eating dinner most days. If I’m hungry, I’ll have a cup of vegetable broth, but I actually rarely am, because I snack and eat so much throughout the day. Maybe that’s some kind of intermittent fasting? Whatever the case, not eating closer to bedtime has resulted in being so much more rested the next day. And makes sense — many a recent study show the correlation between eating and sleeping as well as recovery time.
All in all, I will say this: being more mindful, listening to myself a little bit more, a very silly pair of blue-light blocking glasses recommended by the Internetz, and being extra aware of the importance of good sleep via monitoring my daily scores with my new ring, all have made me catch some amazing sleep and improved my energy levels this past month, and that’s pretty sweet. There are definitely cheaper alternatives out there such as the Motiv Ring or Sleepon and having an Oura ring is absolutely not mandatory to monitor sleep.
That said, people with light sleep apnea or who are just curious to monitor their sleep stages and sleep habits on any given day with fancy wearable health trackers on their middle finger (I wear mine on my ring finger, ha) might really dig the Oura ring and its previous generation.
This version with its new sensors, even after a few years of use, has very much surpassed my expectations with its relatively accurate data. I’m very much looking forward to seeing what the Oura ring gen3 has in store! I hope not a monthly subscription as it seems to be the trend. Will I be able to take phone calls from it? 😛 Hopefully the accuracy of the Oura ring gets better with time. I’m a fan and waiting for the release date.