If you struggle to get a full night’s rest, you’re not alone. It’s estimated that one-third of Americans do not get enough sleep [2
]. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, adults between the ages of 18 to 60 need at least seven hours of sleep per night for maximum health benefits, so why is it that we fall short [1
]? Your lifestyle, work, diet, and stress levels can all affect sleep habits, and while it may not seem like a big deal to miss an hour of sleep here or there, not getting enough shuteye can have a big impact on your health over time.
Oura Ring is one of the most popular sleep trackers on the market and collects data about your body, activity, and sleep using optical heart-rate monitoring. It also monitors your resting heart rate (RHR), heart rate variability (HRV), body temperature, and respiratory rate to provide a deeper understanding of your sleep, recovery, and overall health.
Elo co-founder, Ari Tulla
, and Cycling Masters World Champion, Anne Valta
, are long term users of Oura Ring and share their experience in this article.
Before learning about the pros and cons of Oura Ring, let’s briefly discuss what science has to say about sleep, health, and athletic performance.
How does a lack of sleep impact health?
Chronic sleep deprivation puts you at risk for many health issues. Here are some of the ways that sleep deprivation impacts health and sports performance.
Decreased athletic performance.
While occasionally missing a few hours of shut eye may not immediately hinder your fitness goals, consistent poor sleep can negatively affect performance. Research shows that decreases in sleep duration and quality can hinder reaction time, accuracy, motivation, and endurance [5
Stress and sleep deprivation have been shown to significantly reduce your body’s ability to fight infection [7
Increased risk of chronic disease.
Studies suggest that a lack of sleep is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke [6
Unwanted weight gain.
Not getting enough sleep can make weight loss more difficult and may promote weight gain by reducing physical activity, enhancing cravings, and slowing metabolism [9
]. Learn more about what science has to say about the correlation between sleep and the number on the scale
How much sleep you get each night directly impacts your brain health. Consistent quality sleep appears to protect against brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia. Conversely, a lack of sleep negatively affects your ability to focus, learn, and form memories [8
How does Oura Ring work?
is designed to help people to learn how their lifestyle choices and daily rhythms impact their sleep and how the quality of their sleep affects their readiness to perform. It then transmits those data points to the Oura app (which can also be integrated with Apple Health and Google Fit), where you can see your stats translated into clear and intelligible graphs.
Outside of a sleep lab, Oura Ring is the most accurate device on the market when it comes to tracking your sleep patterns, body temperature, and respiratory rate.
What does the Oura Ring measure?
At night, Oura Ring measures the following metrics:
During the day, Oura Ring monitors the following metrics:
These data points are calculated and transferred to the Oura app so you can see your results in real time.
Using Oura Ring to understand health patterns
Oura Ring converts these measurements into three scores: sleep, activity and readiness.
Oura Ring provides you with a sleep score that takes into account your total sleep time, sleep efficiency, the amount of time spent in REM, light, and deep sleep, and how long it takes you to fall asleep. Thus, the better your sleep quality is, the higher your score will be. These data points allow the Oura app to calculate your optimal bedtime and provide suggestions for how to optimize your sleep. Moreover, this information provides you with a holistic picture of your sleep patterns.
Getting enough sleep is essential for both performance and recovery, so if you struggle to fall (or stay) asleep, here are some natural supplement options that might help.
Oura Ring’s activity score is measured using your daily activity, step count, training frequency, and training volume, among other metrics. Therefore, the more physically active you are, the more your score increases. However, if you over-exercise your score will drop and Oura will recommend more recovery time.
Readiness is the final measurement which combines elements of your sleep and activity scores, as well as your RHR, HRV, and body temperature. This is an overall measure of recovery that looks at your body’s responses to determine how prepared you are to tackle the current day’s stressors. As such, this score meant to best encapsulate your general health status.
Why Ari and Anne wanted to try Oura Ring
Ari and Anne are both avid cyclists, and wanted to learn more about their sleep patterns, and how sleep impacted their performance on and off the bike. Ari first found Oura Ring in 2015 through a kickstarter campaign
, whereas Anne discovered it through her husband in 2016.
Pros and cons of Oura Ring
Ari and Anne have used Oura Ring for a combined ten years. Here are some pros and cons they experienced while using the ring.
Monitor recovery state.
Even though Ari uses both the Apple watch and Whoop, he relies on Oura Ring’s sleep and readiness scores to track his sleep and recovery, and adjust his training plan, as necessary. Similarly, Anne finds that her readiness score drops after a long bike ride or an all-out effort and tailors her training plan accordingly.
Emerging evidence reveals that Oura Ring’s continuous temperature monitoring can spot pre-symptomatic signs of a fever based on deviations from your normal temperature patterns [10
]. This could make it an effective tool for fever monitoring and early COVID-19 detection, as it prompts people to get tested and self-isolate faster to prevent the spread of illnesses.
Evaluate hormonal fluctuations.
For women, Oura Ring can be helpful for identifying physiological changes throughout the menstrual cycle and tailoring your training plan accordingly. Anne found that predicting the start of her period was easier with Oura Ring, and discovered that she could better adjust her training schedule based on “that time of the month”.
Have to wear it consistently.
Oura Ring works best when you wear it consistently because it measures deviations from your normal baseline over time. People who use their hands a lot and/or frequently lift weights may find it too bulky to wear all the time.
Unable to add previous day activities when not wearing the ring.
Oura has an automatic activity detection when you’re wearing the ring. if you’re not wearing it (e.g. when lifting weights), you have to add activity manually that day. Oura doesn’t have the ability to add activities manually the day after, often resulting in incomplete data.
Oura Ring Generation 2 vs. Oura Ring Generation 3
Over the last few years, Oura Ring has undergone a few upgrades, the most recent being generation 3 (launched in 2021). While generation 2 (launched in 2018) has many notable features, the newer model offers the same look and feel but provides more advanced technology, additional features, and an updated subscription model. Let’s take a look at how the Oura 3 is different from the previous generation.
Constant heart rate monitoring.
Unlike the Generation 2 model, Oura Ring 3 monitors your heart rate all day, rather than just at night. Additionally, Generation 3 offers post-workout insights in the Oura app including heart rate, distance and location details.
Improved sleep tracking.
The Oura 2 was already the best sleep tracker on the market, but the Oura 3 has improved sleep sensors that enable even more precise sleep tracking.
Blood oxygen tracking.
The Oura Ring 3 will release a new blood oxygen sensor feature (similar to the latest Apple Watch) later in 2022 that measures your blood oxygen levels while you sleep.
Oura 3 has 5 additional temperature sensors which enable more accurate temperature tracking and period prediction.
Updated membership features.
The new Oura membership comes with a library of voice-guided exercises for meditation, sleep, and breathwork.
More features for the same battery life.
Even though the 3rd generation Oura Ring added real-time heart rate tracking and more sensors, the battery life remains the same at 4-7 days.
Chronic sleep deprivation has drastic consequences for overall health and sports performance, and impacts your immune system, recovery time, memory, and motivation. Tracking your sleep habits with a device (such as Oura Ring) provides a deeper understanding about your sleep quality, as well as activity and readiness to train. Offering data points such as RHR, HRV, body temperature, activity levels, and insights into sleep stages, Oura Ring is useful for those who are interested in understanding how sleep as well as their lifestyle choices impact their health, well being and sports performance.