My Honest OURA Ring Review – Ultimate Sleep Hacking Tracker14 min read
Are you struggling to get great sleep each night? Then maybe this smart wearable tech from Oura is for you!
It’s rare to meet someone who hasn’t tried some form of wearable technology. In fact, all of use whether we like it or not have some form of tracking device on us most of the time in the form of our mobiles.
The Oura ring takes a different approach by putting clever measurement sensors into a smart ring that can record some pretty awesome data.
I first noticed Oura as it was worn by a few entrepreneurs that I follow (Alex Becker & Stefan James). Alex mentions how effective the ring can be for sleep hacking and boosting productivity.
I was keen to discover if wearing the ring really helps with improving sleep and recording useful data or if it’s the latest wearable gimmick.
So, I purchased the Oura ring a few months ago and have been wearing it every-day since. Here is my independent Oura ring review based on my experience.
Why is Good Sleep so Important?
Before delving into the cool technology of the Oura ring and what it can measure, I wanted to first dive into the importance of sleep. Actually, to be more accurate, the importance of good quality sleep.
Everyone knows why having a good night’s sleep is important, but until recently I really underestimated the knock-on effect of an erratic sleep routine.
Consistency really pays off when it comes to having a regular sleep pattern.
That said, up until recently I believed that I could “get used to” less sleep and still function well and not have a serious impact on my health. This is far from accurate though.
I have been reading about the importance and impact of sleep from “sleep scientist” Matthew Walker. From his extensive research he claims anything less than a consistent 7-hours of sleep is inadequate sleep.
anything less than a consistent 7-hours of sleep is inadequate sleep.Matthew Walker
Matthew is a strong advocate of avoiding “junk sleep” that is triggered by sleeping pills and living in tune with your “chronotypes” (I am going to write more about this in another post soon).
What are the implications of inadequate or poor sleep?
Without getting too scientific he found that the brainwave activity of sleep deprived subjects changes significantly from those with better sleep.
adults aged 45 years or older who sleep less than six hours a night are 200% more likely to have a heart attack or stroke in their lifetime, as compared with those sleeping seven or eight hours a night.
A lack of sleep also appears to hijack the body’s effective control of blood sugar, the cells of the sleep-deprived appearing, in experiments, to become less responsive to insulin, and thus to cause a prediabetic state of hyperglycaemia
How the Oura Ring Differs from other Trackers
Are you worried you about whether you’re getting good enough sleep? Well this is where the Oura ring comes in because its becoming known as one of the most popular sleep and activity trackers on the market.
There are many activity trackers on the market, even your trusty iPhone does a good job of measuring daily steps – or so I thought!
I found that comparing the iPhone versus Oura ring daily step count the iPhone under reported my daily steps. This would make sense as you rarely take your phone EVERYWHERE you go. So, although I thought my step count was on the low side, it really wasn’t as bad as I thought (still 40% less than when I lived in London!).
If you’re wearing a wrist tracker like FitBit then you’re most likely getting a more accurate daily step measure.
Where the Oura ring really stands out amongst other tracking devices is how good it is at tracking sleep patterns. To be honest this would be the main reason you would look to buy the Oura Ring. If you’re looking for a heart rate monitor activity tracker then Oura isn’t the best choice and there are other devices more sorted to this.
Oura ring specifications
- Material: Scratch-resistant titanium
- Price: $299 USD – $999 USD
- Weight: 4 – 6 grams
- Water resistant: 100m / 328 ft
- Dimensions: 7.9 mm wide (0.31 inches), 2.55 mm thick (0.1 inches)
- Battery life: 1 week
- Charge time: 20 – 80 mins depending on charging frequency
- Charger: Wireless charger with USB-A connection
- Sensors: Proprietary pulse sensors and infrared PPG sensors, body temperature sensors, 3D accelerometer and gyroscope
What the Oura Ring Measures
The Oura is packed with advanced sensors on the inside of the ring that touch your skin and
and measure the following data:
- Body Temperature Sensor
- Infrared Optical LED Sensors
- 3D Accelerometer and Gyroscope
The Oura constantly measures the data from these three sensors and the internal battery can store up to 6-weeks worth of data.
Based on the night before data, the Oura ring will recommend either “increasing your activity” or “taking it easy”. This is a great way to get feedback for me as most mornings I wake up tired and it can be difficult to know when it’s a normal day or when I really need to take it steady.
This stems back from when I over trained many years ago when training for Triathlons and ended up getting Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (you can read about my story from triathlete to chronic fatigue here).
How Does the Oura Ring work?
The Oura ring sensors detect the pulse waveform, amplitude changes and time between heart beats.
With this information it can successfully measure heart rate, heart rate variation (HRV), respiratory rate, body temperature, activity and movement, time asleep, sleep latency (how quickly you fall asleep), and the different stages of sleep (Light, REM and Deep).
The Oura ring records your body temperature reading every minute while you sleep (not during the day). By comparing that value to values from earlier nights, it indicates your body temperature baseline and any variations from it.
The infrared optical LED measures blood volume pulse directly from the palmar arteries of the finger.
The 3D Accelerometer and Gyroscope detects the amplitude and intensity of your body movement, automatically recognizes that you’re active and tracks the time you were inactive during the day.
You can read the full tech specifications on the website here.
Before Receiving your Oura Ring
The first thing to do is to ensure you order the sizing ring. To get accurate measurements from the sensors means you need a good, snug fitting ring. So I would thoroughly recommend ordering the Oura sizing ring kit, which includes a selection of eight rings from size 6 up to 13 to try.
The Oura sizing ring took 2-3 weeks to arrive for me.
I am not used to wearing any jewellery, my wife and I don’t even wear wedding rings, so it took me a few days to decide on the size and which finger I wanted to wear it on.
Unboxing the Oura Ring
I was keen to try Oura but living in Malaysia it took a while to finally get it onto my finger. The import duty really sucked too!
The Oura sizing ring took around 4 weeks to arrive and opening the box I have to admit I was excited to see it.
Opening the box reminded me of the slick packaging used my Apple – they have done a good job of designing this, so kudos to the Oura design team!
Inside the box is the Oura ring, charging stand and tiny information booklet.
Picking up the ring I was surprised how shiny it was and was initially not keen on how this would look on my finger. It’s surprisingly light due to its titanium construction and after a few hours you don’t realise you’re wearing it.
The ring is water resistant to 100m and so there is no need to take it off when in the shower or swimming.
One thing I did notice though is the ring is relatively easy to scratch and so if you’re going to the gym you need to be mindful when lifting weights – this isn’t an issue for me as I never go to the gym!
The current version two of the Oura ring is much slicker than the original version. You can see the difference in the picture below. I couldn’t imagine wearing version one at all as it looks like something out of star trek!
My Oura ring review is based on the latest version two that I purchased in June 2019.
How comfortable is the Oura ring?
I am really not keen on wearing any jewellery at all so wearing the oura ring was a little awkward for me. Even after being married for 8 plus years now I have never worn a wedding ring, the same goes for my wife!
This is why I chose to wear it on my index finger. It doesn’t get in the way and only now and then am I aware of it when it touches my middle finger.
The first few days of wearing the oura ring I was very self-aware of it as it’s a little shiny. This is because I picked the Silver Heritage model, wearing the black or stealth versions may be better.
Charging the Oura ring
The battery life is really good and lasts almost a full week on one charge. This is a welcome relief as most iPhone users will be all too aware of the need to charge their phone every other day.
The ring is completely enclosed, and I am amazed they already fit so much in, so there is absolutely no room for any charging socket. So, charging the ring is done by a wireless charging stand where you slot the ring on top to begin charge.
Charging time is fast with the ring taking less than 2 hours. I often find that one-hour is enough to almost give it a full charge.
In the App you can see when you need to charge your Oura ring – let’s check out the Oura ring App!
Oura Ring App
To read the data stored on the ring you need to use either of the free iPhone or Android apps. The Bluetooth connectivity works really well and as long as Bluetooth is enabled on your device it immediately starts to sync when you open the App.
There is enough memory in the ring to store up to 6 weeks worth of data, so you’ll never run out of storage (who these days are away from their phone for 6 weeks!).
I use an iPhone and the App has a clean and intuitive interface that lets you get at all the data quickly. You can slide across the days to see the readings for each and even view the daily, weekly and monthly trends.
You get a weekly report to that gives your key insights on your past week’s readiness, sleep and activity.
The App focuses on the three core areas of readiness, sleep and activity.
Here are some screenshots of the data from one day
As you can see you can spend awhile going through the data if you wish, or just focus on the easy to read readiness and sleep scores.
Interesting findings from wearing the Oura ring
Before wearing the ring I thought my deep sleep was poor as I always seem to be wake up tired. I was really surprised to find that my Deep sleep is really good averaging over 2 hours per night.
My total sleep time is too low and often under 7 hours. There are two reasons for this, firstly I go to sleep too late in the evening and secondly I have young kids so not only do they sometimes wake me up during the night but I get up 6-6:30am every morning.
I can’t do much about disrupted sleep from my kids but I have full control over when I go to bed.
I haven’t tried the new “moment” feature where you can activate measuring your resting heard rate and HRV when you want during the day. This is so you can see how you respond to relaxation exercises when taking a break and measure your resting heart rate and HRV on demand.
By taking a Moment to relax, you can reduce stress, improve focus, and help your body recover and your mind re-energize.
Check out the Oura website for more information on Moment.
Is the Cost of Oura Justified?
There are four versions of the Oura ring with prices ranging from $299 to $999. The technology within each variation is exactly the same the only difference is the material and style.
There is a Silver, black, Stealth (dark grey) and Diamond.
There are two shapes offered too, either the balance that has a sharper edge at the top, or the heritage that is flatter. I went with the Heritage oura ring.
I was tempted with the Stealth ring as I thought it would look better and in hindsight I should have opted for this one (it’s matte and so not so shiny!). Paying $299 is still on the high side when it comes to activity trackers but Oura offer more than this, so I was okay with the price.
So, if your price sensitive then Oura may be too pricey and you may wish to look at alternatives like the Motiv Ring, which works out about $100 cheaper (although I haven’t tried the Motiv ring reviews suggest it’s not quite as good as the Oura ring).
Where to buy the Oura Ring
Currently Oura is not in any physical stores and so is only available online through the official website.
Company behind Oura
The Oura ring is the flagship product from Oura Health Ltd. a company first founded in 2013 and based in Oulu, Finland.
The company is backed by world-class investors, leaders, champions, and creators, and has between 11-50 employees and has undergone a few rounds of funding upwards of $40 million.
I can see why in 2018, the company received the Red Dot Awards for communications design and product design.
My Verdict: Oura Ring
Within a few days of wearing the Oura ring I was won over. Now after wearing the ring every day for the last 3-months I couldn’t imagine not having it!
I much prefer using the oura than other trackers and it’s much more convenient than the dedicated wrist trackers. It’s not just about the convenience though for me. I enjoy wearing my Omega watch and so another tracking watch or wristband just doesn’t work for me.
In terms of having an impact on my health I find the feedback useful in assessing the day ahead and making smarter choices for my activity level. Knowing if my body temperature is raised and resting heart rate is elevated means I can take it easier that day. In contrast days with good readiness readings mean there is no excuse for a lazy day!
If you have a smart watch then moving to the Oura ring may require some persuasion but for me I haven’t looked back. Fans of analogue watches or aren’t keen on wearing any watch will most likely be keener on wearing the smart ring.
I will using my Oura ring to help me get better quality and more consistent sleep using data from the sleep and efficiency scores. This way I can make the best of the day ahead and really improve not just my productive but my health.