I’m downright obsessed with sleep optimization. It’s one of my favorite topics.
One thing that I’ve come to realize though about sleep is this problematic truth;
We ALL have a slippery relationship between our sleep duration/quality & reality.
We think we slept for 8 hours, but we’re still exhausted. We know we woke up once, or was it twice? We believe it took a while to fall asleep, but we’re foggy on specifics.
By definition, ‘going to sleep’ means to progress through various altered brain states without our waking knowledge. Those states hold clues that provide the keys to unlocking great sleep. None of us wake up knowing what our body temperature, respiratory rate, heart rate, REM, Deep Sleep, and Heart Rate Variability measures were, however, modern-day sleep tech can.
Last year, I got the Oura ring and it has changed my life in several ways that I will outline below.
Gadget: The Oura Ring Sleep Tracker
***I should note that I am no stranger to sleep tracking. I have been engaged in some version of sleep tracking since back in 2012 when this crazy headlamp style Zeo sleep tracker was a thing:👇
I’ve explored the apps and smartwatches. None of them gave me much insight into how to improve my sleep. More than anything, they often made me feel like there was something wrong with me and my sleep…like it was this mysterious thing that was out of my control.
Since those sleep tracking dark ages, I am now keenly aware of exactly how much power I have over my sleep. And spoiler alert, we have SO MUCH control. Let me outline just a few of the ways that my behavior has changed since tracking my sleep with the Oura Ring.
Before The Oura Ring (NOT A COMPLETE LIST):
-TIMING: Inconsistent sleep schedule
-TIMING: Very little sunlight exposure
-TIMING: On the rare occasion when out in the sun, always wearing sunglasses & hats
-TIMING: Late night meals & snacks
-TIMING: Late night alcohol
-TIMING: Late night workouts
-TIMING: Late night blue light exposure in the eyes and on the skin
-TIMING: Late afternoon coffee/tea
-MINDSET: Mental game thrown from late-night wake-ups, often just submitting to staying up all night
-MINDSET: Mystified during certain times of the month when I wouldn’t sleep well
-MINDSET: Hoping that I would fall asleep at night and getting frustrated when I didn’t
-ENVIRONMENT: Surrounded by the blue light on the phone, computer, tv, & faux lights day & night
-ENVIRONMENT: Heavy blankets and high temperatures
-ENVIRONMENT: Thick sweatshirts or thick PJs to bed
-ENVIRONMENT: Unaware of Electromagnetic Fields (EMFs) sources
-ACTIVITY: Inconsistent daily step count, sometimes 20k 👍, sometimes 1k 👎
-ACTIVITY: Little to no real workouts
-FOOD: Diet of grains, processed sugar, and dairy
-DRINKS: Beer, wine, mixed drinks, and sugary cocktails
-DRINKS: Ample amounts of tea & coffee
-BREATHING: Breathing predominantly through the mouth
-BODY POSITION: Sleeping always on my stomach
After The Oura Ring (NOT A COMPLETE LIST):
-TIMING: Consistent sleep schedule, seven days a week
-TIMING: Rising with the sun! (miracle!!)
-TIMING: Prioritizing sunlight exposure throughout the day
-TIMING: No sunglasses & no hats
-TIMING: Very early dinner, ideally by 5 pm, & no snacks
-TIMING: No late night alcohol
-TIMING: No late-night workouts
-TIMING: No late-night blue light exposure in the eyes and on the skin
-TIMING: No late afternoon coffee/tea
-TIMING: Cold showers at night
-MINDSET: No longer thrown from late-night wakeups and as a result, an increased likelihood of falling back asleep
-MINDSET: Monthly cycle predicted in advance via deviations in daily body temperature readings meant sleep disturbances during this phase became predictable
-MINDSET: Trusting that I will fall asleep at night and at ease when I don’t
-MINDSET: Meditating regularly
-MINDSET: Journaling for morning and nightly routine
-ENVIRONMENT: Red light filters on the phone, computer, tv, & faux lights
-ENVIRONMENT: No faux lights past sunset when possible. Fire and candles as primary light sources
-ENVIRONMENT: Light blankets and low temperatures at night
-ENVIRONMENT: Thin (or no!) PJs to bed
-ENVIRONMENT: Use Electromagnetic Fields (EMFs) meter to determine bed placement and minimize exposure
-MOVEMENT: Consistent daily step count, always at least 10k👍
-MOVEMENT: Reinstating workouts
-MOVEMENT: Selecting types of workouts based on HRV scores
-FOOD: Limiting grains, processed sugar, and dairy
-DRINKS: Very rarely drinking alcohol- when drinking, aiming to end shortly after sunset
-DRINKS: No tea or coffee after 2 pm
-BREATHING: Mouth taping to maximize nostril breathing
-BODY POSITION: Laying on back with a pillow under legs
By waking up daily to a detailed report of not only my previous night’s sleep duration & quality but also my overall health & wellbeing metrics; I am then able to make more informed decisions about my day and responsibly plan my night. More than that, it gamifies my wellbeing. Want to get more deep sleep? Let’s test out adjusting meal timing and see how the numbers shift. Want more REM? Let’s test light exposure throughout the day and night, etc.
The Oura Ring also gives me a heads up if I'm getting sick or rundown before I even recognize it myself. I get a notification when substantial changes in my heart rate, body temperature, respiratory rate, and Heart Rate Variability occur. The data inspires me to take action to restore a biological equilibrium. Sometimes the best 'action' is to take NO ACTION and instead prioritize healthy R&R to recover. These behavioral change practices can mitigate adverse health effects.
Essentially, this seemingly all-knowing ring now ranks as one of my highest-valued pieces of tech that I own. Furthermore, integrating the Oura ring into my recommended "Sleep Stack" for use with my coaching clients makes improving their sleep all the more impactful. The immediacy of waking up to daily sleep stats each morning, as well as the ability to mine data over the long term for patterns, is quite eye-opening. If you have an Oura ring already, please share what you have discovered from it so far!