Oura Ring. Can a Behavior Tracker Improve Your Sleep?

Some people like tracking their fitness results, while others are interested in learning about their sleeping patterns. And as we're riding the crest of technology, innovations such as the Oura ring are gaining popularity. I have been using the Oura ring for four years to track my sleeping habits.

Key takeaways:
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    The Oura ring gives key metric data with stats on your sleep duration, heart rate and respiratory rate.
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    You can use it to observe small changes in you body, such as the effect of alcohol on your heart rate.
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    The Oura ring can let you know if you have a temperature.
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    No health trackers give lifestyle change suggestions to help improve sleep habits.

So in this article, let’s explore whether owning a behavior tracker is enough to help improve your sleep.

What is the Oura ring?

Oura ring is a company from Finland. They are believed to be one of the best health trackers. The Oura ring tracks:

  • Sleep duration. It is recommended to sleep at least 7–8 hours. That allows your mind and body to recharge, leaving you revitalized and alert once you get up. Getting a healthy amount of sleep also helps the body remain healthy and prevent diseases. In short, without enough sleep, your brain and body cannot function properly.
  • Physical and emotional recovery. Deep sleep represents your physical recovery, while REM shows emotional recovery. It is recommended to spend at least 50% of total sleep duration in those two stages together. So if you are sleeping 7 hours, at least 3.5h in total you need to spend in REM and Deep sleep.
  • Sleep latency. It shows how fast you went to sleep. It is recommended to have 10–12 minutes latency. If you have less than that, maybe you are too tired and you need more sleep in general.
  • Heath rate variability (HRV). It is the resilience to stress and mental recovery indicator. A score above 80 is a very good result, and anything below 50 shows that you are in a stressed state and you didn't recover so well.
  • Respiratory rate. It monitors your breathing during the night so you can check if you are breathing through your nose or mouth. Average ratio for this is around 12–16 breaths in and breaths out per minute. The lower respiratory rate you have, the better your blood oxygen level is.
  • Heart rate at night. It is very personal, but 40-60 beats per minute is quite a good result and shows your recovery and heart rest status.
  • Basic daily activity. Counts your steps and can track basic workout metrics.

Oura ring benefits

Detecting small changes

The data reacts to changes in your body's behavior. If you have a cold or even a slight fever, the Oura ring will let you know once you wake up. The precise measurement of HRV allows you to see how even the smallest amount of substances like alcohol affect your heart rate.

Insightful reports

They offer quarterly reports with useful insights such as similarities in bedtimes over the week compared to weekends. It can also show that the more active your day, the more beneficial your sleep will be. After this quarterly report, the user can see his main activity (steps, km), sleep (deep and REM sleep, total sleep duration), and recovery (HR, HRV, body temperature, respiratory rate) trends which can indicate overall health status.

HRV tracking at night

The HRV tracking during the night shows how mentally recovered and relaxed you are. We have been experimenting extensively with HRV in the last few months, and the current results are encouraging.

Respiratory rate monitoring

The average person's breath inhalation and exhalation rate per minute are 12-16 times, while people with asthma have a rate of 20+. The lower the rate, the more likely you are to breathe through your nose during the night. Nasal breathing gives you more oxygen. Your brain is more rested, and you feel refreshed in the morning. When experimenting with lip plasters and breathing exercises in the evening, you might notice that the respiratory cycle decreases, making you more rested in the morning.

Is Oura ring accurate?

No health trackers such as Oura ring, Fitbit, or Garmin connect directly to your brain to determine how much REM or deep sleep you have. Therefore, no data gathered from the tracking device can be perceived as a medical diagnosis.

Oura admits that their sleep quality parameters have a slight error. Still, they also say that they measure HRV and use it to make an algorithm to determine which stage of sleep you are in – when HRV is high – deep sleep; when HRV is falling – REM – so their error, when compared to other health trackers, is slightly smaller.

So even despite the fact that Oura ring is not completely accurate, its data can give valuable information when a user needs to change his lifestyle and total overall health.

Can Oura ring improve your sleep quality?

The Oura ring is one of the best trackers and is constantly improving. However, most people get overwhelmed by the data and do not know how to interpret it. The main goal of the health tracker should be to help people to improve the quality of their life and create healthier habits. But the tracking devices only provide you with the raw data, without any guidelines on how to understand it or how to improve your life based on it. For sleep health trackers to truly optimize sleep habits, they need to provide suggestions on lifestyle changes that might help.

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