By Mansal Denton, guest author
The number one way to improve mental performance is by reducing stress. The Oura ring claims to offer the hardware and software (app) solutions to help you achieve lower stress, improve sleep, and enhance your mental capabilities… but you will have to put in some effort. We’ll show you how.
The Oura ring is a simple self-tracking device that provides accurate feedback on our body so that we may perform better both mentally and physically.
Oura Ring Tracking: 3 Key Metrics
In this Oura ring review, we’ll break down the three important metrics this device analyzes:
Oura Ring Sleep Tracking
Numerous studies suggest humans are naturally poly or biphasic, which means we are meant to sleep in two or more segments throughout 24 hour cycles rather than a single night period . Because of industrialized society (assuming you are reading this from the western world), we sleep only at night minus a few naps.
Artificial light and electronics have wreaked havoc on our sleep as a species and yet we spend 33% of our lives (on average) asleep. Tracking and dialing in sleep is one of the most important factors for improving cognitive performance.
Beyond the subjective “feeling” when we wake up, it’s useful to get objective data and the Oura ring delivers in a reliable and accurate way. Whereas sleep studies can cost hundreds of dollars alone, the Oura ring tracks sleep effectively for a fraction of the cost.
In fact, the Stanford Research Institute (SRI) compared the accuracy of the Oura ring to a standard polysomnography (PSG) test on 41 healthy adults and found the Oura device to be 96% accurate in determining sleep duration and 61% accurate for REM sleep .
Compared to most other devices, this level of accuracy is unseen. Few devices even undergo such scrutiny much less pass the test.
In a later section, I’ll give you a few tools and suggestions to improve sleep even in our chaotic modern world.
Oura Ring Stress Tracking
Similar to sleep, moving away from our ancestral roots has added more stress to our lives. Given the interconnectedness of our body and brain, simply lacking in quality sleep will impact our levels of stress and our potential to perform physically and mentally.
One of the best measurements for detecting stress is heart rate variability (HRV) and the Oura ring takes consistent nightly measurements as opposed to taking it once at the same time every day.
Using a traditional HRV monitor one must track in the same position at the same time daily. With the Oura ring, it tracks HRV regularly and throughout the night to provide a specific metric in the morning. Beyond HRV data (arguably the most important), the Oura ring tracks body temperature 24/7, which provides insight into illness.
Oura Ring Movement Tracking
The least surprising metric the Oura ring measures is movement. FitBit devices have been doing this for years, but the Oura ring technology provides something similar to any other step counter.
As of July 2017, adding exercise data (such as sports or weightlifting) requires users to add a few details to get a clearer picture of movement. Although it is currently not leaps and bounds beyond other step counters, the technology is improving and the sleep + stress tracking more than make up for the shortcomings of movement tracking.
To follow on the discussions from previous sections, movement is imperative for optimal performance (both physically and mentally).
Studies show exercise of any kind increases BDNF (brain derived neurotrophic factor), which is like fertilizer for improving memories and learning . A recent study from Stanford University found that a simple 5-10 minute walk could increase creativity by up to 50% .
Although we don’t need a movement tracker to help us walk more, subtle reminders (from the Oura ring app) help ensure the behavior we desire actually sticks.
Oura Ring Review for Women
As a male with little understanding of female menstruation cycles, if it were not for my girlfriend I would never have known the Oura ring’s potential for women. Before she had the Oura ring, her alarm would wake her at 6AM every morning so she could take her temperature and chart the results in her fertility awareness method (FAM) application.
That was a pain for her and I on those days when I wanted to sleep in! Now the Oura ring takes consistent body temperature readings, which shows hormone changes (notably progesterone) during menstruation periods. Women using the Oura ring for menstruation might see body temperature deviation like this screenshot:
Oura Ring and Nootropics
In America, 266 million people drink coffee daily (83%), and countless others are self-prescribing supplements and stimulating nootropics to do more mental work.
At the same time, we are more stressed and burned out than we have ever been in recorded history . This is avoidable if we have the right tools to seamlessly track our levels of stress and cognitive abilities.
The Oura ring can give us objective data about how specific supplements (even something like a cup of coffee) is impacting our stress and performance. Even though stimulants might feel good, that doesn’t mean they are good.
Sleep Tracking with Nootropics
Numerous studies suggest that stimulants will negatively impact our sleep. If we drink a cup of coffee right before bed, this is noticeable because we cannot sleep. However, even if you fall asleep, something as harmless as caffeine can still reduce your sleep quality .
In this instance, caffeine can create more unintended side effects than we think. Considering the half-life of caffeine is 5 – 6 hours, even drinking a cup of coffee at 2PM can destroy sleep.
The same can be said of other stimulating nootropics. As much as I love Qualia by Neurohacker Collective, when I take Step 2 too late in the day (because I’m fasting), it negatively affects my sleep quality.
The other component of sleep tracking with the Oura ring is whether certain supplements can improve sleep markers.
The ideal is to get around:
- 1-5% Awake
- 10 – 20% Deep sleep
- 20 – 30% REM sleep
- 50 – 55% Light sleep
Tinker with different things to find what works best for you. Keep in mind that everyone is different and you may not always have the luxury of sleeping as long as the example I’ve shown.
Here are some lifestyle factors to keep in mind and a couple sleep inducing nootropic stacks.
- Artificial light / daytime light – to ensure your circadian rhythm is functioning as it should (ensuring the deepest sleep), make sure to avoid artificial light and blue light especially before going to bed. Try to also ensure you receive light during the day.
- Food choices – complex carbohydrates can help increase sleep quality for some people while others do better with protein or fats. Keep an eye on this as you experiment with the Oura ring data.
- Melatonin – Anecdotal evidence suggests the lower dose works better.
- Lemon balm – for those who cannot eat carbs late at night, lemon balm is a GABA transaminase inhibitor (meaning it can help you sleep with a similar mechanism as complex carbs)
- Kava root, valerian root, magnesium glycinate, and a host of others are nootropic options that can regulate sleep. Try to test each of them independently to see what works best.
Stress Tracking with Nootropics
When we use caffeine or other stimulants, that increases our sympathetic response (fight or flight). This will increase alertness and many aspects of performance, but creates problems if we stay in a stressed situation too often.
Tracking our stress levels provides us feedback on how nootropics are impacting our nervous system. While there are plenty of other factors that influence stress, such as exercise, emotions, and diet, if those variables are constant, we can better adapt our supplemental regime.
This stress data will help to cycle nootropics more effectively.
When I see that my body is not handling stress well, I might skip the caffeine and instead opt for a concoction of adaptogens (herbs and plants that help the body adapt to stress). Examples include rhodiola rosea, cordyceps mushroom, and ashwaganda.
The Oura ring provides stress data, which allows me to cycle nootropics effectively to avoid tolerance problems or addiction as is the case with many stimulants. How many people do you know that drink 1 cup of coffee every few days versus multiple cups every day?
The Oura ring’s HRV data helps avoid many common problems with nootropics.
How to Add Oura Ring Notes
The Oura ring technology is one of the most advanced on the market, but there are still missing components. In speaking with the president of the company, I can assure future updates will include fixes for these issues, but in the meantime it is useful to know the work-arounds.
Here are a few of the things you are going to want to add notes for and below are some screenshots:
Activity – the Oura ring tracks frequent low-intensity activity similar to most other step counters. This (rightfully) encourages frequent walks and movement, but does not account for standing desks or other high intensity exertion. Make sure to add this type of physical activity within Oura.
Meal Timing – eating closer to your bedtime may be better or worse for a good night of rest depending on the person (and the meal). By noting the meal timing, it can help better understand the food’s effect on sleep.
Meal Contents – the contents of your last meal also makes a difference. Even a quick note indicating low, medium, or high carb can give you some indication of the effects. The content of your meals can impact sleep quality.
AM / PM Supplements – the supplements (notably stimulants) we take in the morning and afternoon will affect our central nervous system (stress) and sleep quality. A host of sleep aid supplements can help, but we will only know if we have some recorded data to see.
Is the Oura Ring Worth It?
After nearly 2,000 words of education, this section finally provides an Oura ring review for whether it is a worthwhile purchase. To determine whether you should buy Oura ring, we look at a few factors:
Device Accuracy – the Oura ring accuracy level is quite high compared to other wearables. The secret is measuring bio-data from the finger where it is easiest to track.
- The sleep tracking is highly reliable (as above mentioned sleep studies have shown)
- The stress tracking is highly reliable because of the ring placement (HRV + body temp)
- Activity tracking is okay, but no worse than any other device. It’s on par with other devices.
Battery Life – a full Oura ring charge requires only 30 minutes to 1 hour (from 0 – 100%), which is convenient. The battery will need recharging every 2-3 days, which is shorter than some wearable devices, but considering how much great data the Oura ring provides, it is worth it.
Easy / Simplicity – if you are interested in a single device that will do everything for you, the Oura ring is the best bet. Before I got my Oura ring, sleep was tracked through the S+ Personal Sleep Solution and I had to check my heart rate variability (HRV) via an ithlete HRV strap in the morning.
Neither of these were too complicated, but it took more mental energy and time than letting the Oura ring take all the readings for me. For my partner, this makes her life 10 x easier because she can track her menstruation automatically without requiring a 6AM wake up to take her temperature. That alone has increased her sleep quality and performance.
Popularity – wearable devices and biohacking tools are not a popularity contest and when I make note of this fact, my intention isn’t to say “all the cool kids are doing it”. That being said, some of the most important people in the space including Dave Asprey, Ben Greenfield, and myself are all using the Oura ring to track our biodata.
Pricing – the Oura ring price is currently $299, which is on the higher end of the wearables, but not for what you get.
For comparison, the only cheaper wearables are FitBit or other brands that track nothing but steps and poor attempts at sleep data. The Oura ring may be on the slightly more expensive side, but for what you get is a far better use of your money.
Oura Ring Review: One Ring to Rule Them All
The Oura ring isn’t perfect and there is a long way to go before it’s providing every piece of data that we need. Nonetheless, it is light years ahead of competing products because of advanced technology that few competitors are using.
Whether you are a nootropics user or simply a health enthusiast, the Oura ring is the best bet for improving mental and physical performance. Even though media outlets and “experts” will try to tell us what is healthy and what isn’t, the truth is that we need to find out for ourselves through objective feedback and data.
It’s our responsibility to see the state of our body and the Oura ring is the best tool we have to accomplish that goal. Click here to get yours now!