83. 85. 94. These numbers are really important. Life changing actually, and I don’t say that lightly. After hearing about Oura Rings for a while, a client approached me and suggested we both try them. What follows is my Oura Ring review after 2 years of wearing it consistently.
As a matter of full disclosure, my ring was a gift from a client. Lee purchased hers at full price and we are in no way affiliated with the company.
The Oura Ring is a bio tracking device worn on your finger. Similar to watches and bands, it uses a series of sensors and lights to measure body metrics and then gives you data and rankings based on those findings. The ring option is great, in my opinion, for two reasons: You can wear comfortably at night and the capillary system in your fingers is closer to the surface than in your wrist – so you can get more accurate sets of measurement.
Oura tracks three main categories and then scores you based on a 1-100 scale. It’s important to note that scores in one category (eg Sleep) may affect scores in another category (eg Readiness).
This is the main reason I was interested. I knew I needed more sleep and better sleep but with kids and opening the studio everyday, getting MORE sleep was tough. I wanted to really hack into ways to get BETTER sleep, in essence increase those sleep scores. Those scores are based on a number of factors including total sleep time, restlessness, deep and rem sleep and how long it takes you to fall asleep. It currently measures oxygen saturation as well in a brand new feature added recently.
This is a measurement of your body’s readiness to perform. It factors in elements such as previous day’s activities, sleep score, and some really interesting data like resting heart rate, heart rate variability, body temperature, and respiratory rate. If you were training for long endurance events, the readiness could be a really valuable guide towards what type of training you should do on any given day. In the absence of high training loads, however, the information here is really interesting and valuable. Body temp, for example, can be a huge indicator of illness, as can respirations and HRV. Both sleep quality and exercise affect Readiness a great deal, and the general idea is that the more balanced everything is – the more ready your body is to perform well.
The Oura activity score factors in three main components – exercise, steps and general movement throughout the day. Like most trackers, it will give an alarm to get up every hour and stretch your legs. It also seems to prioritize lower intensity activities (she loves long walks!) and a good balance of activities. Your activity goals will fluctuate based on your readiness scores, so you’ll get dinged if you do too much or too little as well. Lee originally got herself an Oura Ring to make sure she was keeping up her activity level when the kids were in pandemic school from home. The real surprise for Lee is that Oura (as we fondly call her in our home) mostly wanted her to slow down her overall activity level and not add more.
Learnings & impacts
Lee and I each wear rings 24-hours a day and look at the data every morning, most evenings and track weekly, monthly and quarterly trends. It is one of the first indicators that I need to “get back on track” and amazing in its ability to show you when changes are being made. Motivation can obviously be difficult, especially as we look strictly at physical manifestations of effort put in. But looking at the system as a whole and measuring some of the more nuanced responses to lifestyle changes can be, literally, life changing.
Over the last two years Oura has refined a period prediction component that Lee finds very interesting. The readiness score is also sensitive enough that hormonal shifts and temperature changes throughout a typical menstrual cycle are noted and attributed.
As I mentioned at the start of this article, I was mostly interested in sleep improvements. I initially made no changes and just tracked data. It wasn’t great, but I had little room to sleep longer with my current responsibilities / priorities. I have whittled around and found an extra 30-minutes or so most of the time, but my time asleep hasn’t changed much at all over the past three years. What has changed is my time spent in REM and Deep sleep, and that feeling of being well rested when I wake up!
Several factors have affected these improvements, and I was able to make these changes based on the information I received from my ring:
No alcohol – Lee and I stopped drinking about a year ago. This has been the single biggest factor in sleep improvements and it’s not even close.
No screens – I used to watch a show most nights “to relax” but am back to books only. I can’t read very long before I’m falling asleep but it’s a better way to wind down.
Sleep mask – Never thought I would say this, game changer. Lee often reads after I go to bed, so shutting out that light has been huge, bigger than I expected. Even when we turn the lights off at the same time, I still wear the mask – it’s both comforting and part of the routine now.
Food – Our dinner time has pushed forward and our food choices continue to get better and better for us. Lower carbs at dinner and an earlier meal really helps both of us with sleep quality – and the difference when we go off the plan is really noticeable!
Technology can be really helpful
In addition to the OURA ring, I have played around and found success with other tracking systems. In every instance, there has been an investment and a willingness to listen to the data and try to make some changes based on it. Being open minded has been huge. While I haven’t implemented everything, all the time, I feel like I am 100% healthier than 15 years ago when I was racing Ironmans and likely more svelte.
Food sensitivity – I worked with a Functional Nutritionist to identify foods my body was sensitive to. Inflammatory if you will. With that list, I removed the top five foods from my diet for 3-months completely. The changes were insane. So big, in fact, that I have kept those foods out. While I still see them in my diet occasionally, especially if we’re traveling, I don’t include them as a rule and can tolerate them in small amounts. But when I eat them, some of the old things pop right back up and that just helps to confirm decisions and keep me on track the majority of the time.
Blood Glucose Monitoring – I spent a few weeks using a continuous glucose monitor. The information is real time, super detailed and highly valuable and it’s an investment I think most of us should make every couple years. By looking at spikes in Blood Sugar, time to correct those spikes and baseline resting levels, we can help to address the early markers of metabolic disease. Having the monitor and someone to help you analyze the results is really interesting, and in some cases life-changing.
Apple Watch – Most of you likely have seen, worn or at least heard of the advances in the Apple health data. Having worn an Apple watch for the past couple months, I can agree that they have done a great job both in collection and presentation. The sleep tracker is really good and ranked very high for accuracy. The heart rate monitoring is super reactive and accurate making it a great choice for both endurance and short interval workouts. I do prefer the data presentation on the OURA ring more, especially for sleep, as well as not having to wear a watch to bed.
What’s best for you?
It’s an exciting time in the wearables world. The technology continues to improve rapidly and the data you can get is amazingly quick, thorough and accurate. If you’re a person who likes to see the direct results of the work you’re putting in, wearables may be a great option for you. Depending on the things you are trying to improve, we are happy to discuss our experiences, the current research and resources for making the most out of your investments. Let us know how we can help!
Author Jeremy Hyatt, MS, CSCS is a personal trainer and co-owner of Hyatt Training. He believes it’s important to start with the basics and move from there. Too often, people get into complicated movements and goals before they have the proper fundamentals, which can lead to negative results. Jeremy has been working in the fitness industry since 1995 and co-founded Hyatt Training in 2011.