Healthy Sleeping Habits

The Oura Ring Is Sleep-Tracking Jewelry—Here’s Everything You Need to Know About It

Kells McPhillips

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Graphic: Well+Good Creative

Even as the world we live in rapidly shape-shifts, there are certain, research-backed truths. For one, we’re all pretty darn exhausted. The 2019 Philips Global Sleep Survey released last year asked more than 11,000 adults from 12 countries about their quality and quantity of shut-eye, and only 10 percent reported sleeping “extremely well.” Combined with other pieces of glaring data about our lackluster REM habits, it’s imminently clear that so few of us are waking up well-rested each day. That’s why sleep wearables, like the Oura Ring, are stepping in to make sure we’re counting key somnolent metrics—like our latency, HRV balance, and body temperature.

Launched in 2013 (that’s a full year before Apple transformed the world of health tech with the introduction of the Apple Watch), this piece of functional tracking jewelry ($300) is small and subtle, but it tracks your sleep metrics using an impressive number of compact features: a body temperature sensor, an infrared lens, and a 3-D accelerometer and gyroscope (both of which track your physical movements). The product’s dedicated app then briefs you each morning with a wealth of data beyond whether you got eight hours or less and rolls it into your “readiness score” (a grade from 1 to 100) of how game you are for each day.

The Oura Ring briefs you with a wealth of data (beyond whether you got eight hours or less) and rolls it all into your “readiness score” from 1 to 100 of how game you are for each day.

But like many wearables on the market (looking at you, Whoop and Apple Watch), with the Oura Ring, there’s a learning curve for being able to actually use the heaps of data it provides. That’s why I asked the company’s Chief Product Officer for Software, Chris Becherer, to break down the app’s interface and highlight the features that its slumber-seeking users—including yours truly—have found genuinely useful.

Here are the 4 best sleep metrics that the Oura Ring tracks

The Oura Ring app toggles between four different screens: home, readiness, sleep, and activity. Replete with heart-rate graphs and other visualizations, the application really does fine-tune the daily operations of your body into quantifiable takeaways. But despite the many data points available to hone in on, Becherer says he always recommends that people start with the sleep tab.

1. the “sleep” tab

“Oura does a lot more than just measure your sleep, but since sleep is such a problem and [the product does] such a good job of helping you understand your sleep, that’s always where I start when I’m explaining it,” says Becherer. The sleep tab offers standard metrics like your resting heart rate and sleep stages, but it mostly revolves around Oura’s signature “Sleep Score.” Here’s how to interpret that score:

Sleep score: Near the top of your sleep tab, you’ll see a score out of 100 that’s dictated by a number of criteria including your sleep efficiency, latency, timing, and restfulness. This score is the bread and butter of analyzing how well you’re dozing. Below, find information about the VIP components.

Total sleep: According to the National Sleep Foundation, most adults need between seven to nine hours of rest. Oura will tell you if you dip below that.

Efficiency: “Sleep efficiency is a measurement of your sleep quality. It’s the percentage of time you actually spend asleep after going to bed,” according to the Oura Ring app. A “good” sleep efficiency score is set at 85 percent, and it weighs heavily into your overall sleep score.

Restfulness: You can blame your blanket-hogging partnerless-than-ideal bedroom temps, and spicy dinners for messing with this metric: What’s cool about this one is you really can control many of the factors that may disrupt your sleep. So if you find that your restfulness score is as pitiful as mine, make a few tweaks to your bedroom arrangement.

Latency: This is the amount of time it takes you to power down your mind.

Timing: “This is a very personalized and specific guideline for when you should go to bed, based on all kinds of things around your health,” says Becherer. That includes how late you worked out, when you normally eat dinner, and how well you slept the night before. Even better, Oura takes this information and actually recommends a specific time for you to call it a night. It’s like a circadian rhythm concierge.

2. The Readiness tab

Once you’ve combed through the information Oura gathered while you slept, Becherer recommends hopping over to the readiness tab to see how you can optimize your day for your body’s specific conditions. “In readiness, we’re taking the next step. We’re saying that, based on what we monitored while you slept and based on your movement throughout the day, here’s where we think you are holistically,” he says.

In other words, the readiness measure builds off your sleep data and the movement data collected by the accelerometer and gyroscope to tell you how much of a day you’re going to have (again, calculated out of 100). Here are the key metrics the readiness tab uses:

Recovery index: Recovery is a big deal right now, so it should come as no surprise that the Oura Ring measures it. “A sign of very good recovery is that your resting heart rate stabilizes during the first half of the night, at least six hours before you wake up, leaving your body time to recover for the next day,” the app reports. So, if you’re, say, working out hard and your heart rate isn’t stabilizing, you might want to spend more time chilling out.

Heart-rate variability (HRV) balance: “Heart-rate variability is the variation in intervals between your heartbeat,” says Becherer, and Oura can use the metric to tell how well you’re recovering by comparing your two-week HRV average with your three-month average. The ring then gives you a score of “optimal,” “good,” or “pay attention” to tell you how stressed out your body truly is.

Activity balance: “Activity balance measures how your activity level over the past few days is affecting your readiness to perform,” according to the app. A full bar indicates that you’re ready for a challenging HIIT class, whereas a mostly empty bar might indicate that a rest day is in order.

3. The activity tab

The Oura Ring app overlaps with many other wearable options when it comes to exercise metrics. In this tab, you’ll see an activity score that’s measured by how much you moved your body, how often you train, your recovery time, your steps, and more.

This section is fairly straightforward, and while looking at your activity output may not be uplifting, the tab can help provide context to why you might be feeling not great or incredible.

4. The home screen

The home screen on the Oura Ring provides a quick rundown of what I feel like I need to know each day, and I love that I only need 30 seconds to scan it. Along with your readiness core, it shows how long you slept, a time log of your activity and your inactivity, the specific types of exercise you’ve plugged into your Oura app on that day, and your recommended bedtime.

The home screen feels extremely accessible to anyone who just wants to get a little smarter about their sleep and the many things that go into that.

The home screen feels extremely accessible to anyone who just wants to get a little smarter about their sleep and the many things that go into that.

Find out what happened when one editor tried $3,400 worth of technology—including the Oura Ring—for better sleep.

So what’s the verdict?

As someone who still hasn’t mastered the art of sleeping well, I really value Oura’s focus on that well-being practice above all else. (And it certainly doesn’t hurt that I like how the functional piece of jewelry looks.) To me, it makes sense that everything from movement to nutrition should roll up into those eight or so hours you spend in bed.

The Oura Ring accomplishes this in a way that isn’t convoluted and is—from my experience—truly actionable.  I want to know when my body needs to rest, when it needs to move, and how I can better my sleep environment. And since I’m far beyond the age of complaining about a bedtime, when Oura tells me to hit the hay between 9:39 p.m. and 10:49 p.m., you better believe I’m listening.

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