There are lots of wearable devices available now to monitor different aspects of your health. Today we’ll review the Oura ring that monitors sleep and activity. 

I quite like these types of gadgets and find them motivating. Let’s see what you think and what Oura can tell us.

Oura Ring

To quote the manufacturers,

“Oura is a revolutionary ring-sized wellness computer that helps you sleep and perform better.”

It is a mini-computer that monitors activity and sleep then sends the data to your iPhone.  

How does it look?

You’ll notice first of all that Oura is a large ring. I’d definitely say it is bulky. It will be noticed and can be quite a conversation piece. It is designed for both men and women – which might explain its large size. For this reason, it might take a while to get used to wearing it. And it might catch on pockets and also get in the way during certain exercises/sports.   

How much is it?

The second thing you’ll notice is the price! It’s not cheap at $299 for the regular black or white one and $499 for the “stealth” matte black one. 

Yes, even the “standard” price is more than many other sleep and activity monitors – but it offers much more too. For a start, its technology enables more accurate results. And it also includes other measurements that standard trackers don’t. Let’s take a look.

What does it measure?

The Oura tracks:

  • heart rate
  • respiration
  • heart rate variability
  • movement – activity and inactivity
  • sleep
  • temperature

How do I use the Oura ring?

There are a few different ways to use the Oura ring

  •  Sleep tracking. The primary use of Oura is for tracking sleep. It monitors how long you are in REM, light and deep sleep, along with total sleep time, efficiency, sleep onset latency, disturbances, and circadian alignment. The data is shown graphically and numerically via your iPhone.
  • Improving sleep. Using Oura can help with trying different options to see what impacts your sleep; for example, you could have an Epsom salts bath and see if that improves sleep, or try some magnesium, or exercise well in the day.
  • Activity and Inactivity. The Oura measures both movement and stillness. Activity is shown as low and medium+. Most wearable monitors track activity but don’t do a good job of reporting the lack of activity. Here, you’ll get the number of hours you are active and how many hours you spent sitting in a chair – extended inactivity. As there is now more and more research on the effects of being sedentary, I love that Oura includes this. Oura also figures out a daily activity target for you, based on your previous day’s rest and activity levels, your sleep quality and a readiness score (see below). This means if you are sleeping well, and not moving – it’s time to get out and move! If you’ve had a few very active days and aren’t sleeping well, then your target will be adjusted to take it a little easier.  
  • Readiness. Readiness is a calculated value based on the previous night’s sleep score, sleep balance, previous day’s activity, activity/rest balance, body temperature, resting heart rate, and recovery index. You get a score from 0 – 100, with 100 being great. This basically tells you whether today you are up for pushing yourself, or you should take it easy.

Pros for the Oura Ring

  • It is water-proof – fresh and salt water swimming up to 50 meters depth of water.
  • Oura seems more accurate for sleep parameters than most monitors.
  • It’s tough.
  • A key factor for this ring is that the data is recorded in the ring. This means that you don’t have to have it in Bluetooth mode 24/7, sending data to your phone. There are health concerns about wireless devices on the body emitting electromagnetic frequencies through Bluetooth/Wi-Fi, so this “airplane mode” function of the ring is important. You can wear the ring in “airplane mode” and then when you want to download the data – you just take it off, activate Bluetooth, it downloads in a few seconds, you switch Bluetooth back off, and put the ring back on. This feature is something you should check on any of your monitors/trackers. 

Cons for the Oura Ring

  • While Oura records lots of variables and syncs to the iPhone with graphs etc., the actual data isn’t accessible for you to export. For example, the temperature just shows a graph but not what your values are. Maybe this will change with updates. It seems odd to not include that information.
  • Short battery life – only last 2-4 days.
  • Price.

How to chose the right size

The Oura ring comes in different finger sizes. When you order one, they will ship you a sizer to help you find the best size.  

Who might this be useful for?

This ring goes above and beyond the normal activity trackers, providing information on sleep and non-activity too – and also helping you see if today is a good day for exercise. It is popular with athletes but can also be useful for non-athletes too who need some motivation to do more. 

Who might this not be useful for?

Yes, it might be fascinating to know more about our sleep patterns. Yes, knowing that you were inactive for three hours yesterday might be very motivating to get up and be more active today. But for some people, tracking can lead to obsession. We want to make sure we use the information to improve our lifestyle, not to worry about every tiny thing it shows us. If you feel you are a worrying person who can be obsessive about the hours and type of sleep you have, maybe the Oura ring is not for you!  

It is also important to keep listening to your own body and not totally rely on a tracker. Yes, they can be useful guides but so can assess how tired you feel right now. Equally, seeing that you slept an hour less last night shouldn’t put you in a grumpy mood and have you looking for nap time all day. We need to have these useful tools remain useful but be part of the big picture. 

To find out more, click here:https://ouraring.com (Photos on this blog post are from this site)

What do you think about the idea? Do you use any trackers or monitors? What do you like? Leave a comment below if you’ve used Oura or something else that you liked or didn’t like.  

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