I mentioned in the last newsletter that I had purchased an Oura ring. It is an interesting piece of equipment.
My only experience with a tracker before was a Spire that you clipped inside your belt and it quit working after several weeks. I’ve never gotten a tracker since, until now. So, I can’t really compare it to the Fitbit style wrist products. I first read about the Oura ring in an article written by a physician, Dr. Sara Gottfried, in the March-April issue of Spirituality and Health Magazine. She mentioned in an aside piece that she always wears this ring to track her readiness for the day and finds it a good indicator for how hard she can push herself or perhaps she needs to take it easy.
One measurement is the heart rate variability which is now the subject of great study because it seems to be a good gauge of health. It is the measure of variability between your sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system. The balance between the fight-flight-freeze response and your rest-digest-calm-down-and-heal response as Dr. Gottfried describes it.
It also tracks your resting heart rate during sleep, body temperature, activity, rest periods during the day, steps and what I find most intriguing, sleep stages.
The first hours of your sleep are of the utmost importance because your body/mind usually falls into deep sleep. During deep sleep there are no dreams, and your brain is busily cleaning itself of waste like beta-amyloids and nuerotoxins, flushing them out between the cells. There is growing evidence this is when the brain rids itself of that plague that is blamed for Alzheimer’s and dementia. It handles long-term memory function. It is thought that 1 to 2 hours of deep sleep is ideal. Interestingly, this occurs during Ayurveda’s Pitta cycle, 10:00 PM to 2:00 AM which is thought to be the time of metabolizing, transforming, and cleaning the mind and body.
Then there is the light sleep, which is also integral for health, accounts for half of our sleep time. During light sleep it is easy to wake up. This is the rest and recuperation we so need.
REM sleep or rapid eye movement sleep is when the brain is active but the body is paralyzed. Vivid dreams happen and heart rate and respiration increase. It normally happens toward morning, after your deep sleep period. Learning and problem solving, memory consolidation and good mental health benefits are noted during this stage. According to Ayurveda, this usually occurs during Vata period, 2 to 6 AM. If you awake during this time your mind may be very active and you may have a hard time falling back asleep.
As I wore this during the night, I found it very accurate in noting my readiness for the next day. Especially when I got a 24-hour bug. It noted my raised temperature, interrupted sleep and other signs that I was not in condition to go out and expend myself in any great way.
It notes if your timing is good, bedtime and wake time, and whether you experienced the beneficial stages during the night. When my deep sleep cycle was short, less than an hour or so, I recounted my habits the night before. Did I eat too late? Eat too heavy? Drink alcohol? Have screen time too late? All these things can affect the quality of your sleep. Deepak Chopra has told us that if you do want an alcoholic drink, have it early enough in the day so it’s out of your system by bedtime. So, have it by 4 or 5 PM at the latest.
For me, I learned a heavy meal was my biggest detrimental habit for less than a great night’s sleep. The next biggest issue for me was screen time past 8:30 or 9. That’s TV, iPad, etc. So, I turn them off and read, meditate, etc. It’s a nice, peaceful practice. And the next day my readiness is high! 80s or 90s. (Sometimes, even an exciting part in a book I’m reading gets my respiration and heartrate up and it takes quite a while for it to settle down upon going to bed, cutting my deep sleep shorter than it could have been.)
If you are intrigued by the topic of sleep stages you can follow this link to more detailed info.
The ring works flawlessly. It keeps track of activity during the day, low medium and intense exercise. It only needs to be charged once a week for an hour or so. If you want, you can set it on the charger for 5 minutes a day and that works also.
I have discontinued wearing it during the day though, because I know when I am active and when I need to move. Frankly, it keeps ‘red lining’ on the lack of intensity of my exercise. I follow the recommendations of my mind/body dosha and my age. My dosha is Pitta/Vata, but as we age Vata can rise more easily, and intense exercise can be a problem for me. My best form of exercise is more gentle yoga and walking. Pitta’s may add swimming and biking, and Kaphas can do the intense, endurance and weight lifting type of exercise.
Another minor problem is when I roll out of bed, clean up and sit to meditate, the ring erroneously thinks I’ve gone back to bed, with my yogic breathing skyrocketing my respiration numbers! I contacted them about this and they told me they are working on adding software that will be able to detect pranayama and meditation. Very cool.
The ring is priced fairly high, starts at $299 for the silver version, which is what I bought. I watched a YouTube review by The Body Weight Warrior. And he gives a code that gives you $50.00 off. It worked, and I paid $250.00. So, you can too. The code for the discount is warrior.
In reading the reviews the biggest problem noted was the time it takes for delivery. They manufacture the rings by size, so if you wear a size nine and they just completed making all nines, you have to wait until all the other sizes are manufactured before the nines come around again. I ordered the ring sizer and it came in about 5 days. Then I completed my ring order with size and it took 13 days. From Finland. Pretty timely I thought.