How Do You Sleep at Night?

Ever wonder just how well you are sleeping at night? How much time you spend dreaming (in REM), and how well rested you really are? How about how to improve your sleep and get the most restful sleep?

Fitbits and various fitness wearables are all the rage now, but the Oura ring, in my opinion, tops them all. Granted, I haven’t tried the others. I never cared to. Maybe it’s my background in neuropsychology, but being able to see one’s personal sleep patterns piqued my interest. This was next-level bio-hacking (for me at least. I can’t speak for the methods listed in the link, but I like the diagram).

So the ring is super easy to use, with an easy user interface in the app, and the battery lasts several days, so you don’t have to worry about constantly charging it. And it charges pretty quickly too. It’s low profile enough that I could even wear it lifting weights and boxing (yes, even with wraps and gloves on).

The Oura ring is touted as having the most accurate algorithms and readings to date. It’s a ring, so it is able to more accurately measure your pulse, temperature, and resting heart rate, etc. Is it perfectly accurate? No. Will it get you accurate enough information to make more informed decisions about your health? I really think so. It’s encouraged me to be smarter about my sleep habits and I don’t find myself wanting to doze off in the middle of the day, or when I’m driving the kids home, as often. That alone makes this all worth it.

Like the Fitbit, it too measures your steps, exercise intensity levels, and calories burned. But it also gives you a sleep score, based on several factors determining your quality of sleep as well as a readiness score that suggests whether or not your body is ready for a challenge or could use a day of rest.

To be honest, I was really interested in getting the Oura ring after my husband got it and was constantly nagging me about my sleep habits. I wanted to prove to him that I could get a better sleep score than him. After several months of waiting (new product, began on kickstarter, more demand than they could keep up with), I finally got mine, the smaller, sleeker, 2nd generation model. It’s kind of fun to compare sleep scores, especially if you’re the one doing well.

With the ring, I’ve learned the importance of going to bed earlier. Over time, it suggests your optimum bedtime. I’ve learned that my most restful deep sleep comes right at the beginning of my sleep cycle and if I stay up too late, it cuts into my deep sleep (the most restful, rejuvenating sleep). So as much as I like to stay up late and finally enjoy adult time on my own while the kids are down, I have found myself getting to bed earlier and making healthier sleep choices now that I am aware of how it affects me. And I don’t find myself wanting to doze off in the middle of the day, or when I’m driving the kids home. That alone makes this all worth it.

My Oura ring also tells me when I need to take it easy due to elevated body temperature. The screenshot to the left was during a week when I had a sick kid. This helped to know that I might be fighting something myself and make sure to focus on self-care.

Speaking of fighting off illness, a new study, just published today, discovered that sleep can in fact fight infection. Sleep helps make your T-Cells more efficient.

The app also links to several studies and educational information about your sleep cycle and suggests ways to improve various aspects of your sleep. For example, I’ve learned that the earlier in your sleep that you have your lowest heart rate, the more restful your sleep is. One way to avoid a late low resting heart rate, is to avoid eating food right before bed, because your body is working on digestion rather than recuperation.

Some days, the app tells me to take it easy, when my readiness score is low. Other days, my readiness score is high and it suggests I challenge myself. In practical terms, this helps me decide if I’m ready to kick my butt in boxing class or go easy and do a gentler workout. Based on my readiness score, the app gives me a goal of calories to burn as well as the distance I would need to walk in order to meet my “daily target.”

Some mornings I wake up too early, check my score, realize I need to sleep more, and make the responsible decision to try and get more sleep rather than laying in bed reading on my phone. Simply being more aware of your sleep and exercise habits can motivate you to improve. The encouragement through marking my achievements is nice to see too.

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