What is Biohacking?
Bio-hacking is generating self-awareness. It’s about finding your individual sweet spot by adding more of what makes you strong, happy and in a state of flow and removing what makes you weak in mind and body.
It is a process of discovery, not a blueprint that already exists and is a self-experiment that involves breaking down knowledge, trying new things, challenging norms and making your health a priority #1.
It involves collecting data through wearables, discussing and dabbling with supplements and nutrition hacks that others are trying, journaling your experience and combining your own experiences to manifest your most optimal self.
Why Collect Biological Data?
It presents an opportunity to be better. Not for the benefit of anyone but yourself. Growing that internal awareness, playing with ideas, products, hacks, methods and habits gives great meaning to me and presents an everlasting, ever evolving possibility of progression.
Enter The Oura Ring….
The Oura Ring’s defining feature has to be in its ability to capture your quality of sleep and spit out a graphic that breaks down the factors or stages of sleep and awake to give you amazing insight into your current sleep patterns and therefore where to improve. We all want to improve our sleep. Sleep is the new stimulant!
This feature is the main reason I could justify my experimentation with wearable devices. Initially I was of the view that wearable devices were intrusive and defy the humanist logic, blurring the lines a little with being a victim of technology in a way. A slave to data perhaps.
But this ring has been astounding in the ways it has benefitted my body awareness in particular relating to sleep and how it affects my daily functioning. This is something I am extremely passionate in – See here my Interview with HAPI – and am constantly evolving.
The biohacking and quantified self movement is endlessly insightful and exciting, allowing you and me to become our very own science experiments – determining how ‘XYZ’ variables are effecting the most important facets of life like sleep, described by Thomas Dekker as “the golden chain that links the body to health”.
The Sleep Score is a combination of the following factors relating to your sleep:
- Total Sleep
Tracking your total light, deep and REM sleep, ŌURA knows if you're getting the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep per night.
- Sleep Efficiency
Most people don't sleep solidly through the night, so ŌURA also detects how much time you're actually asleep and when you're awake.
ŌURA counts your restless sleep too — when stress, noise, partners, and pets may be causing middle of the night wake-ups, get-ups and general agitations.
- REM Sleep
The REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep stage — associated with dreaming, memory consolidation, learning and creativity — is essential for re-energizing your body and mind. ŌURA tells you how much REM sleep you're getting, ideally 1.5-2 hours per night.
- Deep Sleep
ŌURA also detects how much deep sleep you get per night. This is when your blood pressure drops and your heart and breathing rates become regular, making it the most restorative phase of sleep for muscle growth and repair.
- Sleep Latency
In other words, how long it takes to fall asleep once your head hits the pillow. Falling asleep immediately could be a sign that you're sleep deprived.
- Sleep Timing
Optimal sleep is timed with the sun, since your body's essential processes run in 24-hour cycles (known as Circadian Rhythms). ŌURA measures whether the midpoint of your sleep falls between midnight and 3am.
- Resting HR
The ring will let you know when your midpoint was for your resting heart rate to level out during sleep which gives you great insight into your parasympathetic state and whether you are in a ‘fight or flight’ state or a ‘rest and digest’ state.
- Airplane Mode
As mentioned above, one of the upgraded features of the ring include the ability to enter flight mode during sleep. This means you can disable the transmitting feature of the device while you sleep which effectively limits the low levels of radiation that the ring would usually omit which can be inherently bad for inhibiting quality sleep patterns.
The readiness is one of the handiest features of the ring if you ask me. It is basically a combination of all of the data the ring captures, delivering a highly accurate figure to you as the user as to your ‘readiness’ to train/move/lift/perform.
I have tried to confuse the ring with ice baths and cold water exposure as well as steam room and infrared sauna exposure but it seems to effectively collaborate with the plethora of other data collected to give you snapshots that in my opinion are always analogous with how I actually feel – which is always the failsafe method of being aware of your readiness.
The Readiness score is a combination of:
- Previous Night Sleep
How well you slept last night is an indicator of how ready you are for today, because getting quality sleep is necessary for your mental and physical recovery.
- Sleep Balance
ŌURA compares your total sleep time over the past two weeks to your long-term sleep history to determine whether the sleep you’re getting is in balance with your needs.
- Previous Day Movement
Whether you achieved a balance of activity and rest yesterday is another factor in your readiness to perform today.
- Activity Balance
ŌURA takes a view of how your activity level over the past days is affecting your readiness; staying active but avoiding maxing out your capacity gives you the energy you need to tackle what’s next.
- Body Temperature Deviation
ŌURA takes your skin temperature when you sleep, comparing it to previous nights. Variations outside your normal body temperature will lower your readiness score.
- Resting HR
Your heart beats per minute at rest is a reliable indicator of how well you’ve recovered from the day’s activity. Alcohol consumption, a late night workout or heavy meal just before bed can keep your RHR elevated, resulting in lower readiness.
- Recovery Index
ŌURA measures how long it takes for your Resting Heart Rate (RHR) to stabilize and reach its lowest point during the night, ideally during the beginning of your sleep for the best recovery.
- Heart Rate Variability Trend
Using the data the ring produces some great graphic depiction of your biological status to train and perform as a well as a percentage score of 0-100 (100 being best).
There is a necessity here for the Oura app, which is another user-friendly and very useful feature associated with the ring.
This is where the ring measures your level of activity as well as inactivity or sedentary periods. On the one hand, you have the ability to add in your own activity or sessions like below.
On the other hand the ring will let you know how long you have spent hunched over the desk at work, lazing about on the couch or sitting in the car on the commute to and from work and give you an inactivity period in hours and minutes. This contributes to your data at a later stage in terms of sleep, readiness and recovery - both from the rings perspective and in real life terms! The ring don’t lie.
The Activity Score is a combination of these factors:
- Level of activity/inactivity
ŌURA tracks your time spent moving and sitting each day, providing alerts to break up long periods of inactivity when you haven’t moved in a while. ŌURA shows how well you’ve managed to avoid long periods of inactivity in the past 24 hours.
- Daily Targets
Each day ŌURA gives you a daily activity target based on your readiness level. When you’re sleeping well and not active enough, ŌURA will encourage you to move more. Or if you’ve had very active days and aren’t recovered enough, ŌURA will dial back your activity target. It’s that smart.
- Training Frequency
Training Frequency indicates how often you’ve gotten medium or high-intensity activity over the past seven days.
- Training Volume
Training Volume indicating the amount of medium or high-intensity activity you've gotten over the past seven days.
- Recovery Time
Recovery Time indicating whether or not the past 7-10 days have also included 1-2 easy days to boost your recovery.
- Steps and Total Burn
It gives an accurate step count as well as total calories burnt for the days activity level.
- Add Activity
Allows you to add in an activity you are about to do to give a more accurate snapshot.
I honestly don’t seem to use this main feature of the ring quite as much as the sleep and readiness factors, however, I still pay attention to it and refer to it on the odd occasion, particularly if I want to add in an exceptional gruelling flog session to see how it affects the overall picture.
The cool part is, based on your inactivity, low-medium-high level activity in previous days as well as your HRV and sleep taken in to account, the app gives you daily activity targets to meet. If you have a shit sleep, for example, and had poor midpoint resting heart in your sleep possibly due to bad nutrition, stress or flogging yourself physical previous days, it will recommend a very achievable and moderated level of activity.
One area the ring could improve on here is real-time data like HR for training, however, the ring lacks this feature to save battery life. Possibly, this will be an inclusion in the future with Oura’s regular schedule of updates to date.
The benefit of the ring in terms of being a wearable and an external ‘thing’ attached to your body is that it is quite inconspicuous. Initially, I saw the ring in the flesh and thought it looked and felt quite bulky, however after about a weeks wear I could hardly notice it.
I wear it on my non-dominant index finger because I find this the least prevalent for pinching, rubbing and knocking when lifting weights, training and general day to day tasks. In terms of sizing, not to worry about getting the correct size straight away, Oura will send you out a free sizing kit for your order.
What I Like
There are so many things that sell it to me for this device. To be short and sharp, the features I particularly like about the Oura Ring so far are:
- Ability to enter sleep mode and disable Bluetooth
- Accurate sleep tracking
- Lightweight and durable
- The free app
- Readiness score
- HRV trend
What I Don’t Like
There’s not much here. But if I were in charge of product development these are tweaks and improvements I would make to the ring:
- Longer battery life (I know this is the trade-off for a small device)
- Ability to share your data
- Real-time Heart Rate (again, this is a battery life issue for small device)
- Nutrition based data to track HRV for how you as an individual react to certain foods.
- Price. As mentioned, you get what you pay for and in this instance, I am happy to pay for a high-quality product. If you would like an exclusive discount of 10% CLICK HERE to access it.
The Bottom Line
The positives FAR outweigh the negatives for the Oura Ring and all the associated free user interfaces, applications and cloud included.
What Oura deliver is an exceptional product.
To me, it USEFUL.
It is SMART.
It is ACCURATE.
It offers a much higher quality user experience and data collection than most of its competing devices. It could improve on battery life. It could improve on some data relevance like including real-time HR monitoring for training. It could also improve on including a feature to track nutritional correlation to HRV.
Despite it’s higher price point, it is with reason that I am ever grateful for opting for the Oura Ring for continuing to develop my biohacking and quantified self-journey.
Like most things, you get what you pay for, in this case, I have a sophisticated, user-friendly, stylish, futuristic and evolving product that is an absolute pleasure to wear.
Do you need one?
There are two ways to reassess the question.
1. Ask yourself: are you happy with your current state of sleep, health, and wellness? If no, quantifying your behaviors allow you to have better insight into what you are doing wrong and what you are doing right.
If yes, the data the ring provides will allow you to expand your awareness and tap into the 1% that increases your output and performance levels.
2. Ask yourself: how much do I spend on self-improvement vs. purely frivolous aspects of life like partying, alcohol and materialistic possessions.
If the ratio is in favor of the frivolous and you are someone who has an ever-present desire to change some of these habits then shifting some of your focus on self-betterment is a good direction.
All the information is at your fingertips with this ring, pardon the pun. I will continue to wear it having not taken the thing off (except to charge and for a few training sessions where it is slightly in the way and I don’t want to damage it) since I purchased it.
My best advice is to find out for yourself.
Where do I find the best biohacking wearable out there?
If you are remotely interested, check out the Oura Ring website.
If you are already completely sold and want one for everyone you know, you can use the code HOLISTIC at checkout for 10% off the price of your order.
Or CLICK HERE for the coupon code to be emailed to you for use later, simply add your email to the subscribe panel on the home page.