128: Shyamal Patel, Head of Science at Oura: Unveiling the Science of Sleep: What Sets Oura Ring Apart…Plus New Updates!

In today's episode, we have an exciting conversation about the revolutionary sleep and health-tracking device, the Oura Ring.  

Shyamal Patel of Oura, Head of Science, speaks with us. With a wealth of experience in the clinical medical device space and being a key member of the innovative team behind the Oura Ring. We delve into the different stages of sleep and how they play a crucial role in maintaining our overall health.

Additionally, Shyamal sheds light on some of the Oura Ring’s new features like their updated sleep stage classification and how to best interpret the data! We'll also explore the value of the sleep and readiness sections of the Oura Ring app and how it can provide valuable insights to help optimize your sleep.

Get ready for an enlightening conversation that will transform your perception of sleep tracking!


Shyamal Patel is the Head of Science at ŌURA where he leads an interdisciplinary organization focused on research and development of algorithms that translate sensor data into accurate measures of health and wellbeing.

He is passionate about building digital health solutions that enable the transformation of healthcare from a largely subjective, episodic and reactive model to become more objective, continuous and proactive. Before ŌURA, Shyamal led data science teams in several startups and most recently at Pfizer where his work was focused on development, validation and deployment of new digital endpoints across multiple therapeutic areas in regulated clinical trials.

Shyamal has a PhD in electrical engineering with a specialization in signal processing and applied machine learning from Northeastern University. He completed his post-doctoral research at Harvard University and lives in Boston.

In this episode, we discuss:

😴 Shyamal Patel's personal and professional journey with Oura

😴 The Science Behind the Ring:

  • The importance of accuracy and scientific validation to Oura's mission
  • Discussion of the sleep section and readiness section of the Oura Ring app
  • Confusion among users about the new sleep stage classifications feature
  • Acknowledging the challenges of distinguishing certain areas for wearables and Oura's continuous improvements

😴 Decoding the Sleep Stages:

  •  An overview of the four stages of sleep, starting with REM sleep
  •  What are the impact and benefits of REM sleep

😴 Insights into the Zzz's:

  •  Implementing consistency and winding down for better sleep
  •  The accuracy in measuring sleep metrics, Oura ring VS other hand/wrist wearables

😴 Shyamal Patel's experience using different types of wearables to measure sleep

😴 Monitor your sleep, heart rate, activity, and temperature with personalized insights. Check-out OURA RING


📈 If you want to raise your HRV AND get a free HRV consultation...​

​Mode + Method - HRV+      Code: SLEEPISASKILL15

🎢 If you're waking up at 3 am & suspect blood sugar...​​

Good Idea Code: SLEEP10

🎢 If you want to track your blood sugar for an affordable rate, that ships internationally AND integrates with Oura...

Veri Continuous Glucose Monitors      Code: VSM-SLEEPISASKILL


Instagram: @ouraring
Twitter: ouraring

Shyamal Patel


The information contained on this podcast, our website, newsletter, and the resources available for download are not intended as, and shall not be understood or construed as, medical or health advice. The information contained on these platforms is not a substitute for medical or health advice from a professional who is aware of the facts and circumstances of your individual situation.

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Welcome to the sleep as a skill podcast. My name is Mollie McGlocklin and I own a company that optimizes sleep through technology, accountability and behavioral change. Each week I'll be interviewing world class experts ranging from doctors, innovators, and thought leaders to give actionable tips and strategies that you can implement to become a more skillful sleeper.

Let's jump into your dose of practical sleep training.

Welcome to the sleep as a skill podcast. Our guest today is an exciting one. We have the head of science at Oura Ring on the podcast. And this is a big deal because every single client that we work with, whether one on one or within our small groups, all are required to wear the Oura Ring. So for years, we've been working with many individuals.

And looking specifically at their Oura ring data. Now, of course, many of the people that we work with are also wearing other wearables. So we get to cross compare and take a look at kind of the features and benefits of many wearables. However, Oura has really distinguished itself for us and it's become our chosen wearable.

So we are going to get into the weeds today on all. Things Oura. So if you're already wearing an Oura ring, buckle up, you're going to hear the latest and the greatest. If you've been considering getting a sleep wearable and maybe had your eyes on Oura ring, hopefully this will help support your journey and making your choice and decision to purchase a wearable.

If that is in your future, highly suggest that if that is something available to you can make just such a difference and you'll hear some of the reasons why it can make such a difference. But first, a little about our guest, Shyamal  Patel is the head of science at Oura, where he leads an interdisciplinary organization focused on research and development of algorithms that translate censored data into accurate measures of health and well being.

He is passionate about building digital health solutions that enable the transformation of healthcare from a largely subjective, episodic, and reactive model to become more objective, continuous, and proactive. Now, before Oura, Shyamal  led data science teams in several startups and most recently at Pfizer, where his work was focused on development, validation, and deployment of new digital endpoints across multiple therapeutic areas.

In regulated clinical trials, Shyamal  has a PhD in electrical engineering with a specialization in signal processing and applied machine learning from Northeastern University. He completed his postdoctoral research at Harvard University and lives in Boston. I had a blast diving in deeper with Shamal. I think you're going to really enjoy this episode and just understanding not only where things have been for Oura, where they just hit their 10 year anniversary.

But where they are now with some big developments that just came about, like if you're using the Oura ring, you've probably seen the new update that brings heightened levels of accuracy for the sleep stage classifications, but also what's ahead for Oura. Some of the things that we're kind of forecasting and some best practices with how to get the most out of your Oura ring.

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This is problematic because as you all know by now, if you've been listening to this podcast or on our sleep obsessions newsletter, please sign up if you're not already signed up. Or are part of our program, sleep is strongly tied to our metabolic health and over time, poor sleep can contribute to the deterioration of metabolic health.

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So visit www. goodidea. com and use the code sleep 10 for a 10% discount on your first order. Now invest in better sleep and in turn. In a better, more energized life and welcome to the sleep is a skill podcast. This is a very exciting moment in this podcast of the history of this podcast because the amount of times that I have referenced this particular wearable is just wild.

Our whole company is really built on and really has been dependent upon the information gleaned for the user of utilizing which wearable. The Oura Ring. Many of you listening are already wearing the Oura Ring, maybe considering getting the Oura Ring, or looking into, should I be tracking my sleep? So we're going to get into all the, the ins and the outs on this topic, but first off, thank you so much for taking the time to be here.

It means the world. I am so excited to be here talking to you about, you know, sleep, Oura, and, and, um, you know, how, how you've been leveraging Oura in your, in your own work. I'm really excited to be here. Absolutely. It's been critical in the work that I have done. I mean, it's made such the difference in so many, so many individuals lives that I've been interacting with.

Brings me top of mind real quick, a long time client that we'd worked with in his mid seventies credits Oura is actually being one of the reasons where he was able to spot cancer and properly get this managed, get this handled. And now is cancer free because he saw he had, you know, years of data, saw some changes and that he would not have moved on in his estimation without the intervention of something like this.

And now is. healthier than ever. So it's just one window into the massive, massive difference that this can make. So again, uh, really grateful. So to learn a little bit about you and your involvement in Oura and how this all came to be, please give us a little insight into your journey. Yeah. So to my journey.

One is sort of journey through Oura. Yeah. But also sort of my sort of personal journey, right. Um, so I, I'm an engineer by training. Um, my passion is translating science into solutions, um, and science into specifically more health solutions. Uh, so that's, that's really what I, what I, you know, live for. Uh, my journey, my professional journey started in academic research.

I did my PhD and postdoctoral work at Harvard Medical School where there. But I first got introduced to wearable sensors. This was like starting in 2005. So very early days. Very early days. Yeah. Um, then I had the next phase of my career was in sort of translational R and D in the sort of clinical medical device phase.

I was really interested in tackling tough clinical problems and bringing wearable technology into as a, as a solution. I was at Pfizer for three and a half years where we solved some really interesting problems. Uh, new digital endpoints into clinical trials, including for sleep. Um, and then, you know, um, you know, for the last two and a half years, I, I have, I have been at Oura where, where I sort of lead this interdisciplinary team developing algorithms, uh, for all of our health tracking features and, and insights.

Um, my, my journey, you know, at Ora sort of started with, with, uh, with an introduction to our, um, uh, pre thrive was, was a previous CEO. And, and, you know, we connected because they were sort of looking for somebody to, to lead, uh, the science team into sort of the future. And, um, and initially I was a little bit skeptical, hesitant, like, you know, consumer variables and, you know, just kind of like the types of problems and ambitions that a company like Oura might have in this space.

And, uh, but the more I met people that or, uh, you know, use the product sort of, you know, understood sort of the, the, the, the grounding beliefs behind the product and where, where the vision for the product, the more and more convinced I became. Of the incredible potential that this product has to make an impact, not just as it was, or as it is today, but I think there's a whole lot of potential that we can unlock over time.

And accuracy, scientific validation are so core to Oura. That for me personally, it just gives me an opportunity to do sort of cutting at science and then building solutions, uh, based on that science, which benefit hundreds of thousands and hopefully millions of people. Um, over time, so I think that's sort of my.

So personal journey, and I think I see, I think this is just the beginning to be honest, you know, 2. 5 years. I think you're still at the very early stages of what, you know, realizing the true potential for what we can do and what we can enable. Absolutely. Oh, fantastic. And what a. journey. And, uh, you know, I'm sure so grateful to have you really leading the charge.

And from that place in this role that you've now taken on in Oura, why Oura? So for the listener, maybe if they are considering investing in a wearable, particularly to delve into this world of improving their sleep, you know, sleep is a skilled podcast. So likely the listener is interested in improving their sleep.

So why would they choose Oura? over some other wearables and you know just a quick aside as far as my journey in the sleep community and having interviewed tons and tons of sleep professionals and interface with different professionals, I have found a through line and a trust in Oura. And of course, like you said, consumer, uh, there's certain limitations from a consumer perspective, and we're mindful of that, but I've seen many, many sleep professionals that have really opted to bring specifically Oura into their work in particular cutting edge ways.

So why this wearable? Yeah. Um, I mean, I, you know, my perspective definitely has a little bit of bias, but I think.

There are aspects about Oura that are really compelling, right? And if you look at look at the journey of Oura, the history, um, there are some elements of that that point to be like, you know, why, why, you know, this, this product was created. Uh, from the very beginning and we, we just marked the 10 year anniversary of Oura's founding.

Um, and, and over the last 10 years, sleep has been, you know, foundational to Oura. The other aspect of, of Oura is, is that we, we are focused on holistic health, right? We are not kind of, you know, building a product that is meant for a specific use case. Like if you are running a marathon or like we, we really are focused on holistic health and that is actually a reason why, why we started with sleep, right?

Sleep is, is, is connected, has an impact on every single aspect of our health. So if you want to improve health holistically, you know, the first thing you would want to think about is sleep. And that is, that is something that every single one of us has the opportunity to potentially understand and improve.

Right. Um, so that's sort of a little bit of the, you know, the, the, the, the foundations and, and, and sort of the philosophy behind Oura and why, why we focus on sleep. Right. If you, if you think about like 10 years ago. You know, and you ask people like, Oh, you do want a wearable for tracking your sleep.

Probably the answer would have been, why would I need a wearable? I, I, you know, I, I know how I slept. I can just wake up in the morning and think about, okay, am I, how am I feeling? Right. Right. But Oura, you know, saw that as a, as an opportunity to like, you know, an unsolved problem, you know, an opportunity to, to add insights and value there.

And and we've really kind of, you know, invested a lot over the years and making sure you know that we perfect our product for sleep. We designed every aspect of or has been designed to make sure that it is really optimized to, you know, to, to, to help you understand your sleep all the way from the form factor, right?

It's a ring. Um, the reason why it's a ring is because It is probably the most comfortable wearable to, to wear. And if you're, you know, I like me, I just don't wear anything on my wrist at night. It just cannot stand. And I've tried wearing, you know, wristwatches and smartwatches and stuff. It just doesn't stick.

So with Oura on the other hand, you just get used to it. There's, there's no, actually there's no getting used to it. And that, that. A lot of that goes to the form factor. It's a four gram, you know, piece of wearable that just disappears. It's sort of like blends into the background. It gets out of your way.

And so the form factor is one key aspect. And form factor drives, you know, kind of consistency of use, you know, and, and, and that is actually very, very important and behavior sort of like adopting this new technology into your life. The 2nd factor is accuracy, right? The reason why it's a ring, the reason why it's measuring on your finger on the palm side of your finger is that's where we get the strongest signal, right?

Compared to, you know, the risk where you're measuring on the backside of your hand. where you have all sorts of factors like, you know, hair. You're also measuring from, from, from the small blood vessels rather than arteries in your finger where you're getting a really, really strong signal. So all that translates into better accuracy and accuracy is incredibly important when you, you know, if you want to use metrics, um, to understand and improve your health.

Knowing that what you're getting from a variable is reliable. It's accurate. It's important. I mean, otherwise you really cannot base your decisions on that. And, um, and I think we see this as accuracy is as foundational to to, um, to our product. Um, and the third one is engagement, right? Um, I mean, I've used a bunch of other wearable products or has a very distinct, compassionate voice.

And that's that's on purpose. That's something that we feel like we do not want to be, you know, dictating or telling you what to do. We want to be your partner in health and we want to be on this journey with you and be there for you when you need us and help you understand and then, you know, take actions, right?

And so what that drives a compassionate voice, the user experience, the design of our app and how we engage with you, um, inherently drives engagement, right? You find using our product kind of, you know, something that you can relate to some, you know, a voice that is, that is with you. And, and, and, and so it's, it's something that just, you know, um, Most of our, you know, a vast majority of our users, the first thing that they do in the morning is check their sleep score, check how they slept.

And that, you know, that engagement, that sort of wanting to kind of check in and see how you're doing is extremely critical, right? And for me, one of the biggest behavioral changes and sort of positive changes that Oura delivers in your life is this moment in the morning. Where you pause and think about how you slept last night, right?

Just the fact that you're starting to think about how you slept. Is going to be enough for you to say, okay, now what, what can I do better? And that, that helps you start, get started on this journey of developing your, your sleep skills, right? Um, so that, I think those are like the foundational factors, you know, why Oura and why we, and that those things have driven or us journey so far.

And they also guide us in the future. Uh, so well said, and I love how you put it, that kind of compassionate voice, because it is, I've used just about every wearable possible that could measure sleep, and there is a distinct voice that I register from the Oura Ring, and certainly in the user experience that I've gotten feedback from users, to also kind of help guide along the way, because some of the, what we'll hear is concerns around going into data and wearables for sleep, Some of the concerns have been, uh, well, it's going to have a nocebo effect where, you know, going to kind of set our behaviors in alignment with our scores.

It's going to be problematic. We'll get too fixated or obsessive. And yet what you pointed to, I feel like is distinct with Oura in kind of this gentle nudging to be reflective versus sort of like, you know, you're in the red, you're in the green, you're, you know, kind of these binary ways of looking at things.

Not that there's anything wrong with some people thrive with those wearables as well. But from a sleep perspective, which has that a lot of nuance there. So that's really been an intentional factor of Oura from what I'm hearing. Absolutely. Right. And then I can give you like very clear examples, right?

Did you, I was one of the first ones to, in this space to kind of. Start move away. Like if you look at our product of metrics are in a features, they're grounded in relative changes, right? And one of the first things we do when you when you get an orange is build your baseline, like understand what health looks like for you today.

And where are you in your health journey today? Right? Yeah. And so that understanding, like understanding you, you know, what is your heart rate normal? What is normal heart rate for you, right? There's this concept, I think, in, in medicine and healthcare generally, where you're looking at these normative values, like, that are based on a population.

You say, okay, this is, you know. This is the band for normal heart rate. This is, this is normal body temperature. This is, you know, normal, you know, amount of sleep. So there is, there is this notion of normal, right? And we all know that, you know, we are, you know, there is a lot of personal aspects to health, right?

And I think every single individual has certain aspects that are different. They're unique, right? They're really dependent on your, your biology, your environment. Um, Your, your sort of unique context, your lifestyles, and so understanding, you know, on an individual basis and in a personal basis, what, what health looks like for you is, is absolutely critical.

And that, that has been sort of, you know, from, from the very get go or has always been about like, let's understand what health looks like you and then provide you insights that are helping you understand where your health is moving related to where you were. Right. So that helps you. So rather than grounding me against like, I don't know, some ultramarathon or right, like, that's, that's, that's not a, that's not a, that's not a healthy comparison to be honest.

Right? I think it's better to understand your own health journey in the context of your health and then optimize and improve in a way that's and that's part of a compassionate voice. Right? That's, that's, that's essentially and that's, you know, if you look at where healthcare is moving, right? Healthcare is moving in a way that is, that is in the direction of personalization.

You look at treatments, therapies. Yeah. You know, we are all finding that we need to develop treatments, understand health in a way that is, you know, really understand you as an individual, and then we can achieve. That's the only way to achieve the best health outcomes. So, so that's something that, you know, or has done since the very inception.

And, um, and then that, that is a part of for compassionate voice, to be honest. Absolutely. And I loved how you shared as you were moving into the space some, you know, kind of concerns about consumer grade wearables. And I'm curious if you have any thoughts on this topic of certainly underscoring that consumer grade trackers cannot be diagnostic of any kind of health concerns, sleep concerns, etc.

However, curious your thoughts on the advantage of maybe Sounding the alarm or some flat like red flags that we might want to take some action to check further So for example, i've had a number of people That given some of the feedback that's come on their or ring They've been now inspired to get tested for sleep disorders and particularly sleep apnea and been able to then take these steps to really transform their health in a really meaningful way, given some of the signs that they found on these trackers.

Do you have any thoughts on any of that or any call outs there? Yeah. And, you know, I think kind of goes to the example that, that you, you know, uh, started the conversation with, right. Uh, somebody finding that, you know, figuring out that they have, they have a serious health condition because of changes that they see from their normal data.

So that actually, that's, that's one of the. Really powerful things that I think that is going to shape the future of healthcare is I think every person will have a sort of their health baseline and a longitudinal sort of tracking. If you think about our, our sort of healthcare experience today, you know, um, I think it's changing every day, but, you know, by and large, our healthcare experience is just about a, an annual physical with your doctor, or when you feel sick, you go and get checked out.

What is the problem with me? Right. And so it's very, very episodic. It's very sort of reactive, you know, sort of like something's wrong. Let's react to it. And, and, you know, this, this sort of technology like or a ring, which helps you continuously track, you know, day after day and night after night, your physiology, your health, um, is going to create this powerful way of saying, you know, helping you understand when change, when things are changing, right.

You might not be able to tell from the data that you, you have X, Y, or Z, right? Like that's, You know, but, um, but you, you do get a sense that something's off. Right. And I can tell you, like, you know, if you have been an Oura user for long enough, you will have your own story. Like every single, I have my own stories about, you know, things that I had, you know, health issues develop.

And then I'd like, you know, I was like, my data looks off. I haven't started feeling something yet, but, but the data is off. I've gone to my doctor and they're like, you know, your, your, your heart rate looks, you know, my, you know, once in one case, my heart, my, my resting heart rate went up to like, you know, 70, like, you know, and my, my normal resting heart rate is around 50.

Sure. And. And so I went to the doctor and I said, this is way off. Like this is some, something's off. And I, you know, I'm kind of, uh, not sure what's going on, but something's off. And they just, what I was told is 70 is perfectly normal for somebody your age, you know? Yeah. You know, exactly. And then a few days later I had symptoms and we had to do something about it.

Right. So, and, and I, I can tell you like every single person, you know, if you use ordering for like, Three months, six months or more, you just, you just have one of these stories, right? Big or small. Um, and this is, this is to be honest, like, this is the way the, the future of health is moving, right? This is where, and I think we just need to, our healthcare system, how we think about health, we'll need to catch up with, with, uh, Uh, with this, you know, this incredible power that we now have, you know, on our fingers.

When we talk about sleep, we say that you have, you know, a sleep lab on your finger, and it is true, right? Like you, you know, from an accuracy perspective, from, um, you know, tracking you, how you're sleeping, you are able to do pretty close to what you would be able to do in a sleep lab. Every single night, right?

And that's, that's a profound change. And so when you hear stories like somebody finding that they might have insomnia or other sleep disorders, that's like, that's, I never get surprised when I hear that. Yeah, it makes sense, right? Yeah. Absolutely. That breadth of data. We had a a well known sleep doctor on the podcast that, you know, he's got his own sleep labs in person and yet would say that Oura Ring has been an ally for him to be able to get longitudinal kind of multi layered data to then also if then he has people come in lab to he wants to look at more in depth then he can look at that that's one night maybe two nights max as compared to years of data so and when you put those all together that can be really really powerful.

I think this will help us not just from, you know, getting and taking care of people in a better way and like being more proactive and and sort of more data driven. But actually, I think there may be even benefits around, you know, health care costs and health care utilization and the way we think about health care.

Right? And that those things are going could be potentially even more profound and, you know, more impactful in a way for us as a society. Right? Um, so, yeah, that's 1 of the things that, like, for me, like, every day gets me excited about what I do and, you know, my work and, and, and, and it's like, essentially, you know, 30, 40, 50 years down the line.

If I, you know, um, if I was to look back. You know, I think that what we're doing today, you know, in shaping this future is going to have an impact. And that's something that is, is, is, uh, yeah, I think it's, it's something that I really, um. And we take as an inspiration. That's so fantastic. I love that. And going deeper on this topic of kind of interpreting this data, what to be mindful of, two areas that I'd love to just delve into a bit.

For any user of the Oura Ring that's familiar with your interface, two pages on, you know, the app or on the online, on the cloud data. We have the sleep section and the readiness section and I'm wondering if you can help us one, understand what's going on with the new, it was beta and now it's launched around the sleep page, specifically sleep stage classifications.

We get tons of people, what does this mean? How do I navigate this? So kind of breaking that area down and then also breaking down the readiness page and why that can be valuable. But I think it's important too because There are different areas that are more challenging for a wearable to distinguish and there's things that we're doing to improve upon the accuracy.

I, for one, am so grateful that you're it's, or is a company that is looking to continuously improve and rolling out some of these changes, but there can be some. confusion for people in the media. So if you can help us break that down, that'd be great. Yeah. And you know, science, science is something that sort of evolves.

This is something that you always continue to kind of refine and improve. And that's essentially. You know, or I sort of like a science grounded company. So that's going to be in that's sort of in our DNA. Um, the just to give you some context around like, you know, background around the new sleep staging algorithm that we recently shipped, um, that took more than 2 years of intense R.

N. D. This was basically 2 years of background work and collecting data. Um, you know, developing an algorithm, refining and, you know, really tweaking all aspects of the algorithm to make sure that it's, you know, it's sort of like a step change, a step improvement. It's not like some kind of incremental, like 1, 2, 3% improvement.

You made it like a, you know, around 15, 15 to 18% improvement. uh, over the previous generation algorithm, right? That's, that's a, that's a leap, right? By, by the standards of an algorithm, it's sort of like a leap. And what it took us is we, we collected data on like 1500 nights in, in a sleep lab more than, and that's still ongoing, that it doesn't stop, right?

We just, uh, we're just starting another, another study in the, in the, in the next couple of months with more nights, right? And people who have, who have sleep issues, sleep disorders specifically, right? So, and the way we think about this is that we want our algorithms to work for the broadest range of the population, right?

Whether you're healthy, whether you have some health conditions, whether you have, you know, independent of whether, you know, your gender, your skin tone type, and that just requires you to collect. you know, a ton of data, right? Um, so that's, that's, that's all sort of sort of the behind the scenes, right? And whenever you make a step change like this, there's obviously, you know, changes that you would notice, right?

That there is something changing. If there was like a small incremental change, the, you know, things that you, you, you know, your metrics might not change as much. Um, but with NSSN, that's one of the reasons why we made this. This transition very, very carefully and in stages, right? We had the beta for a few months and then we learned, you know, improved, got feedback from people and just kind of made sure that we are doing it in a way that, you know, minimizes confusion and creates clarity and understanding.

Right? And and so that's sort of like a little bit behind the scenes type of context, right? In terms of what you see in the in the app, right? You one of the first things you would see is like if you tap into your into your, um, uh, into your sleep card or readiness card. You would see contributors, right?

You will have, you will have, um, an overall score that is a number between, you know, zero and 100. Hopefully you're not. Yes, everybody should be. Hopefully not. You know, you're never near near zero. Yes, hopefully. Yeah, it is. This is a number between between zero and 100. Um, and you have, there are a number of contributors that go on, you know, that lie underneath, um, for sleep.

Um, we have seven contributors and these are contributors that are. Uh, associated with different aspects of your sleep. So the total sleep time, um, which is one of the, one of the, you know, the biggest things you can do, learnings, personal learnings has been giving yourself the opportunity to sleep and being consistent about it.

Um, so total sleep time, how efficient your sleep has been, right. Um, and, and, and, and in the sense that do you have lots of wake ups, like do you wake up how many, you know, frequently and was your sleep fragmented versus sort of. Kind of, you know, um, fairly stable, like going between different stages, restfulness, where you're tossing and turning around too much.

Then you have REM sleep and deep sleep, which are, you know, two different stages of sleep that are giving you, you know, that where, where you're sort of, um, the different sort of benefits associated with them. Right. So you get a breakdown of that. And then, then, you know, things like latency and, and, you know, timing was your, when you went to bed, what was the timing optimal and whether it took you long or, you know, whether you fell asleep, you know, in a reasonable amount of time.

So these are sort of contributors that, that help you understand. The sleep score, like the why behind your sleep score, right? And I'll help you identify aspects that you might need to focus, focus on to improve. Right? And so that sort of goes to the insights. Um, there's also, you can also dive into the, the hypnogram, right?

Which is essentially shows you sort of the, the, the changes in the sleep stages from the beginning of your sleep to the end. And you typically would see, like, 4 different stages where you have. Um, Awake light, uh, ram and deep, and each of these stages that has a sort of different benefits, I'm happy to sort of dive into like, you know, benefits of these, uh, sleep stages.

Sure. If that's, that's helpful, . Yeah. Great. Please. Um, but, but yeah. So, uh, uh, so sleep, um, as I said, there are like four, four different, uh, stages of sleep. Um, we can start with REM sleep, right? REM sleep is, Is you spend about like 20 to 25% of your of your time and then sleep and it typically sort of decreases the amount of time you get in them decreases with with age.

Um, and during them, you're sort of in this sort of a paralyzed straight state, um, because you're dreaming and you're, you know, you don't you don't want to be, um, it's sort of like a mechanism to put you to do. prevent you from acting out your dreams, your heart rate, your aspiration increases, your temperature regulation is sort of disrupted.

Um, so lots of physiological things that are happening. Um, this is a really interesting phase of, of your sleep. Um, it's, it's really, um, beneficial for, for learning. Um, and, um, um, uh, Dr. Matthew Walker, he, who is a sleep scientist and also an advisor, a scientific advisor to Oura. Um, he describes REM sleep as essentially creating a mind wide association, like web of association.

Connecting sort of different aspects of your experiences, right disparate like things into into, um, and and sort of that ultimately drives things like creativity and learning. Um, it's also very important for emotional health, right? You're in your sleep in the REM sleep. You're sort of processing your sort of, um, sort of emotional experiences, uh, in a state where your brain, um, is a little desensitized.

So you're not your brain is. Sort of the reactivity of the amygdala in your brain is a little subdued, so you're processing these events, potentially traumatic events in a state where you're sort of able to rationalize and maybe kind of deal with this. So it's really helpful for for emotional health. Um, you're the, the, the next stage of sleep would be like light sleep and light sleep is by far.

The biggest component of like 45 to 55 percent of your sleep is spent in light and it typically sort of increases with um, with your age the amount of time you spend in light sleep. Light sleep is actually a little misunderstood in terms of like its benefits. I think a lot of people think about light sleep as Not a good kind of sleep.

You don't want to be in light sleep, you know? Uh, whereas it's not true. Light sleep has, has a lot of, lot of really, uh, valuable benefits. One being memory consolidation, like mm-hmm. You know, things that you've learned recently. You know, it helps you when you're in light sleep is sort of like you're processing and consolidating that and it becomes sort of former and, and that helps you sort of retain that, uh, information longer.

Um, it's also something that really helps with, um, motor skills, like, um, there was research, um, again, like Dr Matthew Walker, I think around 2007 or eight, uh, there was a paper that, that, that he published where, um, they, they studied that people, um, in their research, they found basically that. Um, people who took a nap after learning a new motor skill performed better than people who did not.

And, and they found a strong association between the time that this group spend in light sleep and, and their sort of motor, like the scores on the motor testing or movement, you know, the fine motor, uh, skill testing. It also is, is very useful for boosting creativity. Um, then, um, no, Thomas Edison had this, um, technique where he would, you know, basically like fall asleep while holding, uh, in his chair while holding, um, a metal sphere.

And the goal for him was basically that he didn't want to go too deep into like fall too deep into sleep. So he wanted to wake up in this sort of light stage where, you know, um, before he, he went in deep. So what would happen is that the ball would like drop and then that would wake him up. And then he would sort of like.

You know, jot down whatever ideas. Yeah. So this is something that is sort of like associated with creativity and the scientifically also also proven that you do kind of boost creativity. Um, the last 1 that, you know, to stay from the sleep stages perspective is, is deep sleep, right? Deep sleep is actually the smallest part of our, you know, sleep distribution.

We get like 15 to 20, maybe even like 10 to 20 percent. It typically sort of decreases with age. I think a lot of people have anxiety about the amount of time you get in deep sleep. I think one of the changes with the new sleep staging algorithm is You know, there were, you know, um, uh, a group of, you know, sort of, um, uh, people depending on where you are, you know, age and other aspects of your physiology that you saw maybe a little bit of a drop in your, in your knee fleet.

And that I think was one of the things that there was a bit of confusion and concern about it. Yeah. But, you know, again, I think to understand like our, our, the new sleep staging algorithm cracks your deep sleep more accurately, you can be more, um, you can have more confidence in what you're getting. The other thing to understand is also that, you know, deep sleep, you don't need two hours of deep sleep.

That's not normal. Yeah. Not normal. Sorry. I, I never, I try never to use that term normally. Um, but that's not something that you, you know, you need, you don't need to draw. So typically you would need like, or you see people getting like 45 minutes to maybe 90 minutes of deep sleep. Um, and it's an important, you know, type of sleep, right?

Um, because this, this is the opportunity for your brain to, to flush out the toxins from your, you know, um, that have been accumulated through the day. Your brain is incredibly active, like there are 100 billion neurons in your brain that are firing throughout the day, creating sort of these waste products, like these sticky proteins that are associated with things like Alzheimer's and dementia, like long term risk, cognitive risk.

And this is your, you know, this is an opportunity for your body to sort of clean out those, those toxins. Uh, so, you know, incredibly important function, also useful for muscle growth and repair, also, you know, valuable for, for metabolic health. Um, but again, I think this is where. What I think, you know, what I advise myself and also everybody else is like, think about sleep in a way that is, you know, from a balanced perspective, you don't need to hit absolute numbers of like amount of time.

I think what you want to try is to optimize and improve your sleep in a way that helps you. You know, kind of feel better and feel refreshed and recovered in the morning and kind of using that and everybody will have there are no norms, right? No, there's no normal that you should be getting. There will be variability.

And, um, and I think our goal is going to be constantly sort of refining, improving our algorithms to give you the most accurate information in your hands and the most valuable insights again. Absolutely. And I'm wondering if you can underscore if you align with this kind of perspective I've often taken and often shared is that in my estimation from what I've seen, sleep stage classifications, which often are the things that people are getting all riled up about there.

Oh, no, I'm not getting enough deep sleep. I'm not getting enough REM and making judgments and concerns around that, that for so long, any hand and wrist based tracker tracks. That's been something that has been a challenge to be able to discern sleep stage classifications across the board on all hand and wrist based trackers, right?

For quite some time. And now this leap that you're speaking to that Oura has advanced on, it now does set it is one of the more accurate on the market thus far for the sleep stage classification. Is that all accurate? Yeah. So, you know, we, in terms of like, when you think about sleep staging and how you understand sleep, um, that the science of like, what you, how you understand sleep clinically, the, the technology is called polysomnography and polysomnography was actually like invented in, in 1974.

So it's relatively new. Right. You know, problems. Sure. It's also subjective, right? So like you, when you go to a sleep lab, you get all these like electrodes wired to your brain, all sorts of like, dozens of like electrodes to relieve your face, your muscles, your heart, like you measuring all different aspects of your, of your physiology.

And then there's a human that is looking at those signals and interpreting. What stage of sleep that's that's the gold standard, right? And the need expertise and, you know, uh, that's that's sort of, um, but that's the gold standard, right? And there is a little bit of subjectivity there. Sure. If you ask, you know, if you look at.

If you give, you know, two experts the same data, PSG data, they would agree among them about like 83 to 85% of the time. Yeah, that's important to understand the accuracy and what you're talking about. It's not like. There is nothing like a hundred percent accurate because the standard itself is like, the agreement between experts is about 83 to 85%.

Now we, we have benchmarked our algorithms against this gold standard, and as I was describing earlier, like maximum amount of data just to make sure that we get when we're. If you do it on like 10 people, right, if you have data from like 10 people, it's just very hard to say this is going to generalize, but on 1500 nights, that's that's a substantial amount of data that, you know, kind of gives you more confidence and based on the data set, we are close to 80% accuracy compared to a polysomnography, right?

And I think, you know, in terms of the delta, when we say 80% often people think, oh, there is a 20% gap between, you know. Between where their or eyes and where you know where the best would be, but actually that gap is not 20%. We're actually pretty close. And that's when we when we say that you literally have a sleep lab on your finger.

We are pretty how you can say that. Yeah. Thank you for clarifying that aspect of like sleep staging. You can argue that we are pretty close, right? That that's, um, And that's powerful. I just think about it like game changing. Absolutely. I have, I have done sleep studies like a few times and I do not know how you can sleep with all those.

That's, uh, aside from the fact that it's expensive and you can't do this on a daily basis, just the fact that are you actually sleeping, you know, well, when you are there, right? So are you studying? The real sleep or the, you know, I would argue that the sleep you're, you're tracking in your own environment in those, you know, sleeping in your own bed night after night, that gives you a much better picture of your sleep because it's in that environment and that comfort comfortable, you know, that's a real world situation, right?

Absolutely. Well, that's a perfect segue to learning through you and how you're managing your sleep and given your whole background knowledge and what you're bringing to your own life as you, you know, in the mornings, check your scores and hit. So what we can learn from how you are navigating your sleep.

So we asked. Every person that comes on the podcast, four questions. Super curious your responses on these. So your first one is, what does your nightly sleep routine look like right now? And of course, I'm sure there's variabilities and travel and all kinds of things, but what would we see noteworthy now?

Yeah, so two things I've learned and I've implemented and I tried really hard to kind of work on them. Um, I don't, I think it's, I will have to work on them, you know, continuously. Two things. One is consistency, giving myself a consistent sleep opportunity, like a good window to sleep. Uh, for me, that's about like seven to seven and a half hours of sleep, right?

And I try to be in bed by 1030. Um, sometimes I sleep, but I really try hard to, to kind of get, get in bed. Yeah. Um, the second thing I do is try to wind down. This is another thing that You know, from, from, from the Oura data, like every, you know, a lot of people that I mean, I've experienced it myself, you know, that winding down is so critical, right?

Um, you know, you getting your physiologically getting into a state where, where you're ready to sleep. And if you're going to bed, In a state of arousal, like when you're, you know, with a lot of stimulus from looking at screens or, you know, you're just thinking about work or other, other things you're, you're, it's, it's going to take a longer for your body to kind of wind down and just get, get good sleep and, you know, just going back to like the sleep stages.

And, um, the 1st part of the night is where you get most of your deep sleep. So if you really want to improve, You know, your opportunity to get good deep sleep, that's like absolutely critical. You need to, uh, do that. So I either, you know, read a book for about 30 minutes or so. Um, that's one of the, you know, standard things on my, on my bedside table.

Uh, and then the second thing I do, you know, not consistently, but it's, it's either the book or I kind of do a breathing exercise. Um, If I don't have enough time to kind of read a book or, um, and that's from, from Oura's library, we have a pretty large library of breathing exercises, meditation sessions that you can do.

And one of the things that I love about using the Oura's library is that you can also see how your physiology is changing because when you're doing the breathing session, you're also tracking your heart rate, your heart rate variability, your respiration. So you can actually see after you finish your session, how, you know.

What was the quality of your session? Did you, you know, did your heart rate reduce? You know, did you get into a state of kind of relaxation, right? And ready for sleep? Absolutely. And I love what you said too about the deep sleep piece because we hear that all the time. People say, Oh, I just want to improve my deep sleep.

Give me the supplement, the thing, right? And Often what you just pointed to is one of the biggest things that we can kind of set ourselves up powerfully is to create that consistent sleep opportunity. And you mentioned Dr. Matthew Walker as an advisor. And one of the things that he's known to point to is What it appears to be that if you do go to bed later, because we might think, Oh, well, I'll still get it on the first, I'll still get that deep sleep ratio, higher ratio on the first half of the night, you know, whenever I go to sleep, but it appears as if it can be more lobbed off the later we're going to bed, according to some of his findings.

And then on the flip side, if you're kind of truncating or waking up earlier on the, in the morning that your REM might be impacted, is that all accurate from what you've seen? Yeah, absolutely. You know, most of the REM sleep you get is in the second half of the night, so yeah, that's, that's, uh, you know, affecting either the REM sleep or deep sleep.

If you're messing with the timing. Yeah, exactly. Because people are like, oh, well, it just it will move out. It will just adjust, but it doesn't appear that it necessarily is doing that. Great. Okay. So that's fantastic. Setting yourself up for success there on the front half on your evening. And then we also ask your morning sleep routine, quote unquote, with the argument that by how we start our day could impact our night.

So curious if you have anything noteworthy there. Yeah. So it's fairly simple, but, um, so I'm, I'm a, I'm a late morning chronotype. Um, I don't know if you've seen the, the new feature that we've recently brought in chronotype. Um, you know, just for folks who don't know, chronotype is essentially what, you know, sort of your, your, um, you know, are you a morning type, early morning person or late, like, essentially what, what, what is, what is your sort of, um, internal clock look like, right.

In terms of your, how your body regulates itself and, and, um. And so I'm a late morning chronotype. Um, I typically wake up around 6 a. m. Um, uh, which is maybe a little bit early for my chronotype, but I have young kids. So there is, you know, no option. I had to, you know, kind of 6 a. m. Sometimes even like 5 30.

Now it's actually better that my kids are a little older. Um, there are two things I do like there, that's my routine that I just, you know, for me, like morning routine is about jump starting my day. I want to get, you know, get the blood flowing and get sort of like, That and also have like a ritual, right?

I think it's ritual is something that I've really appreciated sort of having having. Um, and so I do 30 push ups. That's I can do that no matter what, like, no matter what, whether hell is breaking loose, I can get in 30 push ups. That's that's the bare minimum. So that's I do that while I'm making my double espresso with oatmeal.

So that's the 2nd. Um, that's my only coffee of the of the day. Um, But I love to start my day with like a nice, no, no sugar. That's one of the other changes that I made in my life, um, that for, for, from a health perspective. Um, and so that's, that's, and I think the, the more I learn about benefits of coffee, um, I know it's not, you know, you shouldn't drink coffee too late in the day, you know, because it takes time to metabolize, but coffee is incredibly, the neuroprotective benefits of coffee are, are, are really, um, Something that I, I've definitely been sold on.

So, um, and then, you know, usually I'm sort of juggling my kids, getting them ready for school. And if I can, I try to squeeze in 30 minutes of cardio before I start working. Um, but that's yeah, it's fairly straightforward. I love that. And the pushups. I have not heard anyone say that, that they're routinely adding that in the morning.

And I think that's great because it's an achievable amount of time that we can all kind of find time to slip that in and bring about that excitatory wake promoting response in the morning. Fantastic. Okay. And then the third question would be, what might we visually see in your space on your nightstand or maybe if you're traveling proverbial nightstand?

Dan, so maybe ambiance, cap gadgets, uh, supplements, anything that you wanna call out. Yeah, no, no supplements on, on a regular basis. Yeah. Uh, but, uh, so three things. One would be a Kindle or, or a book. Sure. A night lamp, obviously. Right. That's, uh, and, and then, um, my phone in the sleep mode. So that's, those are three things on my, on my nightstand.

Perfect and simple, just so that I can, like, you know, when I get to bed, just that wind down need book. Right. Yeah, absolutely. Oh, I love that. And I was just saying, um, just on other podcasts, uh, just the other day that I've seen this trend that the more simplistic and minimal or kind of a minimalistic, uh, approach to sleep often, it seems that some people are getting great results as opposed to we sometimes we'll have people with like, 20 step processes and all kinds of things and sometimes can kind of get lost in all of those accoutrements or be dependent on those things.

So I like that simplicity. I think it's again, like there are different things that might work for different people. And I think for me, it's like optimizing between sort of the cognitive load of like. Doing a bunch of things and and also making something that I can actually do right, like fit into my schedule and make sure it's sort of like something that fits into my lifestyle and I can do consistently like consistency is so critical when it comes to sleep.

You know, developing your sleep hygiene, just kind of, uh, and to be, and as I said, like, it's not, it's like, I have to work at it, like, you know, I've been doing that for, you know, several years now, but I think I just kind of, I still have to work at it, remind myself sometimes I slip up, you know, slip up and then, um, but that's something that I think from a data perspective, I've seen that when I do that, when I do these things, these simple things, I get better sleep.

Yeah, absolutely. So well said. And then the last question is what has made the biggest change to your sleep game to date? Or said another way, maybe biggest aha moment in managing your sleep? I mean, as I said, like winding down and consistency. Yeah. To by far the most important things. Um, I think my aha moment, like for sleep, um, there were like two, two aha moments actually.

Like just from a, you know, personal sort of experiences where like I realized something that needed, needed to change and like I had to. Um, there was the first moment was when I become became a parent for the first time, and, you know, just like very different lifestyle before. Yeah. Suddenly, you know, having a little one in the house.

And now, you know, I tried very hard to, you know, Keep my old lifestyle and my previous lifestyle. And it was a struggle. I struggled a lot. It was, it was, it was, it was tough. And I read this book, uh, deep fork. I don't know if you read it. Oh, I love that. Cal Newport. Yeah. A new board. Right. Fascinating book. I just like, I, that was my one aha moment was like, okay, I need, I need a lifestyle change in a way that really helps me.

Um, you know, prioritize and optimize my productivity and protect my time with my family because I understood that was actually an important part of my, my mental health and well being generally that that time with my family, that's important to me. And then the third thing was getting good sleep. Right.

I saw that. You know, I mean, I think any parent would, one of the first things you probably learn as a parent is like, how important sleep is, right? And what happens to you when you don't get good sleep, how impaired you are, right? That's like really a very like crash course and like, so that was the first aha moment, like sleep is important.

I need to get, you know, really do everything I can to, to make sure I get good sleep for me and for, you know, for my family, for my work, I need to, uh, um, And then the second moment was when I started using Oura. I was actually at the time when I had our, we had our second child. So I was definitely much better prepared as a parent, like second time around, you know, a lot of things.

Um, but, but Oura empowered me with data. So it was the first time I got like, View into my sleep from a data perspective, and that led to more need to like the 1st time was a was very big changes like big lifestyle changes like really had to reshuffle things. And, uh, the 2nd time around was more about optimization, right?

Like little things like this wind down routine, um, you know, not eating like what happens when I eat a late meal. Um, you know, like, those are like subtle things that I've learned and like spotted in my data and like, you know, this associations. So, yeah, those are, I guess, like two, two big aha moments.

Absolutely. Oh, I love those. And I think certainly any parent can relate to kind of that journey, but then also adding in the data, this awareness, reflection, behavior change, just all of that can help remind us that we're not just at the effect of whatever is coming our way with our sleep. We can actually get in the driver's seat and really make a difference with this and continue to evolve and improve along the way as our life changes.

Because we might think, oh, I got this whole sleep thing handled and then another kid comes along or something happens. It's a constant, you know, thing that you evolve, your body evolves, right? You know, the type of sleep, you know, amount of sleep, the type of sleep you get evolves, uh, as you age, other factors in your life.

So yeah, I think it's something that you want to do constantly. Right. Absolutely. Ugh. So well said. So much valuable information. I know we only scratched the surface, but so appreciate this time that you've given us. So how can people learn more about you, OuraRing, all the exciting things to come? Yeah. So OuraRing, you know, you want to learn more about Oura, you go to OuraRing.

com, uh, that's our website. Um, um. I would point you particularly to our blog, uh, Pulse blog, which is where you learn about member stories, like really fascinating stories about how different members have used their, their, you know, their Oura and Oura data in ways to help their, them improve their life and sort of how Oura has partnered on their health journey.

Uh, you can also learn about some of the great science we are doing, also science happening outside Oura. Uh, and a lot more. I did say it's a great learning resource. Um, um, others, you know, other sources would be Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, all the social media LinkedIn, not, not on other social media. Uh, sites, but, you know, um, that's where I share a lot of the, um, what we are doing, you know, the progress that we are making and what we are, you know, sort of how, you know, types of features we're delivering to our members.

So awesome. Okay. We'll be sure to include all of those resources in the show notes so that people can stay abreast of all this. And definitely, if you are considering. getting a wearable, which I highly suggest if available to you that you move on that. And if you do do that, certainly I've seen just such incredible transformations for people with their sleep, particularly with Oura Ring.

So it's a really a great honor that you took the time to be on the show. So thank you. Thank you. I'm excited to follow all the exciting things that are coming our way with Oura Ring and its advancements and developments. It was a pleasure. Thank you for having me. And, uh, you know, looking forward to chatting more in the future.

Absolutely. Oh, thank you so much. You've been listening to the sleep as a skill podcast, the number one podcast for people who want to take their sleep skills to the next level. Every Monday, I send out something that I call Molly's Monday obsessions containing everything that I'm obsessing over in the world of sleep.

Head on over to sleep as a skill. com to sign up.


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