Back in September, I posted my initial thoughts of my Oura Ring. It was mixed and slightly negative. You can see the issues I had with the Oura in that post. I ended it with this statement:
I’m still undecided on the Oura Ring for myself. I’m going to keep collecting data for myself, but I don’t think I would recommend it for others unless they had the cash to drop and wanted something now.
Well, that was then and this is now. I am now a fan of my Oura Ring. I only use it for sleep and recoverability. I don’t even look at the Activity section.
A few things changed me from being neutral to positive. The first thing is that I noticed the data started to seem more accurate. Did Oura use their algorithms to learn me better over time? More data, more accuracy. Or maybe it was a firmware or software update? I don’t know, but the data seems more true to me now than in the first two months.
Oura was a godsend when I developed insomnia. It helped me see what I couldn’t. When did I fall asleep? How much deep sleep? How much REM? The last thing you want to do when you are stressing about sleep is to stare at a clock. During these rough nights, Oura made suggestions, some of which I resisted at first, that helped me improve my sleep.
I am familiar with all the sleep hygiene tips. I’ve read the books and listened to the interviews. Yet, I believed that on two points, I was different than everyone else. I believed I needed to eat right up until sleep or I’d wake up hungry and I believed I needed to be warmer. Good sleep hygiene states the opposite. Avoid eating right before bed and sleep cooler.
Cooler Temps and Last Bite
First, I tackled the cooler. It took just a few days to get used to going to sleep slightly cold and I could see my sleep score improve. Then I gradually began pushing back my last bite from 15 minutes to 30 minutes to 60 minutes to 90 minutes. With this gradual approach, I could see my deep sleep time increase and my sleep score went up again. As we move into spring, I’ll continue increasing that time.
Note that pushing back my last bite gradually is the inverse of the same advice I’ve been giving for years to people when they whine about not being able to engage in time-restricted eating. Start by eating breakfast 15 or 30 minutes later. And then every week or so, add more time. Keep going until you have a tighter eating window.
Now, I’m just taking my own advice and flipping it for the last meal.
One thing that promotes deep sleep is exercise. For most of my life, I always exercised in the morning. Even though I learned back in 2017, that I would better off exercising in the afternoon, I continued to exercise in the morning.
Now I am exercising daily 3-4 hours before sleep. What did I learn from my Oura ring? Increased deep sleep time. The answer was always there. Oura helped me see it clearly.
Big Data Sets
The real power of the Oura Ring is that it records every night. As my data set grows, I can go back and compare different time periods. It would so cumbersome if not impossible to track all the data points on your own spreadsheet.
It has been my belief for years that I sleep better during the winter months. But I don’t have data to support that belief. Soon I will know that question with real numbers.
Looking For Sickness
Every morning when I check my numbers, I make sure to look at Body Temperature. A sign that your body might be ill is an increased body temperature, especially over a few nights. If I see a spike of 0.5F or more, I will rest and isolate more. I might take a higher dose of Vit D, Vit C, and Zinc. I’ll go into a chill mode and not exercise.
This body temp spike happened twice and both times, I went into my “I might be sick” mode and by the end of the day, I felt great. Did I fight off something? Maybe. It is possible. Why risk it?
I’ve heard that people that get COVID will often see body temperature spikes 1-2 days prior to noticing any symptoms. This feature alone makes the Oura Ring worth having.
Right now, I’m getting mostly scores in the 80s. I’m hoping to get into the 90s this year. More data. More experiments.
I still have a spreadsheet that I use to track my Oura scores and take a few notes to allow me to try different experiments. Oura has a tag feature, but I needed something more free form. First I tracked sleep supplements to learn that almost all of them had no measurable benefit. Then I tracked exercise time and deep sleep. And now I’m focusing on the last bite time.
I’m sure I’ll have another experiment after I optimize that number.