How Oura Helped Me Change My Life

I’ve written before about how my health was on a downward slope because I was “too busy” to pay attention to it. You can read about it here. The first step I took to regain my well-being (I like to use this word as a combination of physical, mental and emotional health) was to buy an Oura Ring. It’s essentially a sleep tracker in the discreet form of a ring that you wear on your finger. I love tech and was really excited to dive into the data!

I wasn’t experiencing any sleep problems in particular so you might think that sleep tracking is an unusual place to start. But I’m going to share how it helped me make some changes that not only improved my sleep, but also my overall well-being.

Screen Time

Screen passcode on iPhone
Screen passcode on iPhone

The second part of this is when I use screens. I’m not tracking my computer screen time but I am more mindful of how I use it and at what times. The important thing is not to be scrolling through social media, watching shows or even working before bed. All these things are stimulating your brain and not preparing you to sleep. I really enjoy watching crime shows and if I do this before bed I know I won’t get a good night’s sleep.

Screen time before bed can show up in my data as:

  • Increased sleep onset latency (a complicated way of saying, “taking a long time to fall asleep”)
  • Increased awake time (Battling to stay asleep)

Alcohol

Drinking wine in Cape Town
Enjoying a glass of wine in Franschhoek near Cape Town in South Africa, with my Oura ring.

Something that I am really curious about is that when I drink port wine, even 2 or 3 glasses, it doesn’t seem to affect my sleep at all! Does anyone know anything about this? Get in touch!

Alcohol can show up in my data as:

  • Increased Heart Rate
  • Higher than normal Resting Heart Rate
  • Delayed and Reduced REM sleep
  • Reduced sleep onset latency (As a sedative, alcohol can get you to fall asleep quickly)

Basically this means you fall asleep easily, but your quality of sleep and recovery is not good at all.

Wind Down Period

The 5 Minute Journal
My 5 Minute Journal that I fill out every morning and evening.

No wind down period can show up in my data as:

  • Increased sleep onset latency
  • Increased Resting Heart Rate
  • Reduced REM sleep

These can be caused by a range of different things, difficulty falling asleep is perhaps the most relevant one.

Consistent Bed Time

An inconsistent sleep schedule can show up in my data as:

  • Increased sleep onset latency
  • Reduced sleep efficiency
  • Reduced time spent asleep
Part of my daily routine is waking up early to go for a walk on the beach (and drink coffee)

Room Temperature

Temperature setting
My perfect setting for a good night’s sleep!

A room temperature that is too hot or cold can show up in my data as:

  • Reduced REM sleep
  • Waking up frequently throughout the night

Coffee

A mug of Rooibos Cappuccino
My afternoon Rooibos Cappuccino.

Too much coffee or coffee consumed too late can show up in my data as:

  • Higher average Resting Heart Rate
  • Increased sleep onset latency
  • Reduced time spent asleep

These small changes have really helped me, and once my sleep started improving I noticed the effects spreading to the rest of my life! I hope they inspire you to make some positive changes in your own life too! These have all been fairly simple steps to take and as you can see there isn’t an all-in-one solution for better sleep, rather there smaller lifestyle changes that can make a huge difference.

I feel like I have more control of my health but I still think it could be easier. The data isn’t overly complicated but I wish it was even simpler. I wish I didn’t need to decode my heart rate to find a way to improve. If you use an Oura ring (or any other wearables or trackers) and have similar thoughts, I’d love to hear from you!

We have a community discussion space called All About Sleep, get involved and share your experiences!

I hope to hear from you soon,
Pete

Partner @ Gateway Labs - Building something new for your health