How I Track Sleep, The Top 7 Sleep Parameters To Track, Interpreting Your Sleep Trends & Much More.

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Article-new, Articles, Body, Health & Wellness, Recovery & Sleep, Self-Quantification

Recently on Instagram, I posted my latest sleep and readiness stats, which – on a particularly fantastic night of sleep in which I didn't need to be anywhere the next morning – looked like this:

To get this data, and to track my activity, HRV, body temperature, heart rate – along with many other self-quantified parameters that let me know how I should exercise that day, how certain supplements or lifestyle factors are affecting my sleep, or how well my nervous system is recovered – I use the only technology I actually feel comfortable wearing 24/7, the Oura ring, which I've reported quite a bit on in the past, including in the following articles and podcasts:

Just two months ago, in November 2018, a new, sleeker, far more advanced version of the ring I've been wearing for the past two years was released, featuring an iOS and Android platform that allows for:

  • Automatic sleep tracking
  • Personalized guidance for improving sleep quality and circadian alignment
  • Sleep score and sleep quality breakdown
  • Sleep stages (light, deep, REM)
  • Ideal bedtimes
  • Readiness score and readiness insights
  • Night-time resting heart rate and heart rate variability trends
  • On-demand resting heart rate and heart rate variability tracking for meditation or breathing exercises (to be released later)
  • Body temperature deviation based on continuous night-time measurements
  • Night-time respiratory rate
  • Naps and restful moments
  • Personalized daily activity goal based on recovery and readiness to perform
  • Activity score and activity insights
  • Intensity, timing and duration of physical activities
  • Manual activity logging
  • Steps and calories
  • Inactivity and sedentary time
  • Inactivity alerts
  • Long-term sleep, recovery and activity trends
  • Notes and tags

…along with built-in technology and measurements including:

  • Pulse waveform and pulse amplitude variation detection with infrared PPG sensor
  • Improved body temperature sensor
  • 3D accelerometer and gyroscope
  • Interbeat interval of heart rate (IBI)
  • Pulse amplitude variation (related to blood pressure variation)
  • ECG level resting heart rate (RHR)
  • Heart rate variability (HRV)
  • Respiratory rate
  • Movements, and timing, duration and intensity of physical activity
  • Body temperature deviation

The new ring is titanium with scratch-resistant coating, is non-allergenic with a non-metallic, seamless inner molding, is ultra light-weight at 4-6 grams (lighter than a conventional ring), and is even water resistant to 100m (328ft). Unlike the larger, older model, it is the size of a normal wedding band (7.9 mm, thickness 2.55 mm), and available in 8 different sizes (US6-US13).

Other features include:

  • Collects data autonomously: In-ring memory to store data up to 6 weeks
  • Connects and syncs to mobile device using Bluetooth Low-Energy Smart
  • Contains very fast ability to be able to place into airplane mode for zero EMF
  • New ring battery life up to one week
  • Wireless charging capability

In today's post, I'll fill you in on all of the details on how this powerful new wearable allows you to track body temperature, heart rate variability, calories, steps, respiration, very accurate sleep cycles and much more. In the meantime, if you want the new ring for yourself, you can click here.

The Top 7 Sleep Parameters To Track

I’ll start with what the Oura ring was built for: a simple tool for getting more restorative sleep.

As you may have learned in my article, The Last Resource On Sleep You’ll Ever Need: Ultimate Guide to Napping, saying that I value quality sleep may be a bit of an understatement. This is because – often to the chagrin of hard-charging, high-achieving, sleep 5-6 hours a night, Navy SEAL-esque hyper-productivity types – sleep is when your muscles recover and repair themselves, your adrenals become restored, your liver detoxifies your body, your immune system is rebuilt and beyond, glymphatic drainage occurs, and a host of other built-in mechanisms allow for you to be fully human the rest of the day

And most people are not sleeping enough. Some estimates state that up to one-half of the US population and 2/3rds of people in other developing countries are not getting the recommended sleep (not time in bed, but actual sleep) most people need of 7-9 hours per 24 hour day cycle.

So let’s dive into how something as simple as a ring can help you improve the quality of your sleep, thereby improving your overall health and wellbeing.

Oura analyzes your sleep by measuring the dynamics of your heart rate, pulse strength, body temperature and movement. Oura’s machine learning algorithms combine these measurements into a detailed picture of your unique sleep patterns.

Because the ring sits snugly on your finger and is in close contact with your skin, it is able to provide accurate pulse and temperature data, using the following methods:

  • Photoplethysmogram (PPG): During sleep, Oura measures your Blood Pulse Volume from the arteries on the palm side of the finger with infrared LEDs. The little bumps in the ring band house the infrared LED transmitter and receiver.
  • Movement: Oura uses actigraphy to estimate your sleep patterns and sleep-wake cycle.
  • Temperature: The occurrence of sleep and wakefulness is closely related to changes in body temperatures. Oura tracks the variations of your body temperature by measuring your skin temperature each night.

The Oura Sleep Score that you can then take a quick glance at each morning (or at the end of each week if you don't care to obsess over data too much) is a gauge of exactly how restorative your sleep was the night prior. Your sleep score is affected by seven sleep contributors, which are displayed as horizontal bars in the Oura app's sleep view.

  1. Total Sleep: Total sleep refers to the total amount of time you spend in light, REM and deep sleep. The amount of sleep needed varies from person to person. As a general rule, the younger you are, the more sleep you need. Most adults need 7-9 hours to perform well and stay healthy. Getting a good amount of sleep for your age will keep your total Sleep time in balance, approximately at 80%. The contributor bar will be at 100% when your Total Sleep time reaches 9 hours.
  2. Efficiency: Sleep Efficiency is a measurement of your sleep quality. It's the percentage of time you actually spend asleep after going to bed. For adults, a generally accepted cut-off score for good Sleep Efficiency is 85%. It's common for Sleep Efficiency to slightly decrease with age. For a maximum positive contribution to your Sleep Score, your Sleep Efficiency needs to be 95%. You'll see a lowered Sleep Score if it has taken more than 20 minutes for you to fall asleep, or if you experience one long or multiple shorter wake-ups during the night. To increase Sleep Efficiency, you should try to make sure you are really sleepy (high sleep pressure) when you go to bed.  I go over Sleep Efficiency in great detail in the article: “The Last Resource On Sleep You’ll Ever Need: Ben Greenfield’s Ultimate Guide To Napping, Jet Lag, Sleep Cycles, Insomnia, Sleep Food, Sleep Supplements, Exercise Before Bed & Much, Much More!“. Also, as with Deep Sleep, Sleep Efficiency tends to decrease with age.
  3. Tranquility: Sleep disturbances caused by wake-­ups and restless time can have a big impact on your sleep quality and daytime cognitive performance. Restless sleep is less restorative than uninterrupted sleep, and it's usually the cause of daytime sleepiness. Disturbances can be caused by various different factors, such as stress, noise, partners, pets or different foods. To improve your chances of getting restful sleep:
    • Optimize your sleep environment by making sure your mattress is comfortable and your bedroom is cool (≈ 65 °F/18 °C), quiet and dark.
    • Avoid spicy, heavy meals and alcohol close to bedtime, and caffeine in the afternoon and evening.
    • While regular physical activity can make your sleep more restful, try to complete exercise at least 1­-2 h before bedtime.
    • Help your brain and body to wind down by disconnecting from bright screens and dimming bright lights 1­-2 h before going to sleep.
  4. REM Sleep: REM (rapid eye movement) sleep plays an essential role in re-energizing your mind and your body, making it an important contributor to your sleep quality. REM is associated with dreaming, memory consolidation, learning and creativity. Making up anywhere between 5-50% of your total sleep time, the amount of REM can vary significantly between nights and individuals. On average REM counts for 20-25% (1,5h – 2h) of total sleep time for adults, and it usually decreases with age. REM is regulated by circadian rhythms, i.e. your body clock. Getting a full night's sleep, sticking to a regular sleep schedule and avoiding caffeine, alcohol or other stimulants in the evening may increase your chances of getting more REM.
  5. Deep Sleep: Deep sleep is the most restorative and rejuvenating sleep stage, enabling muscle growth and repair. When you're in deep sleep, your blood pressure drops, heart and breathing rates are regular, arm and leg muscles are relaxed and you're very difficult to awaken. Varying significantly between nights and individuals, deep sleep can make up anywhere between 0-35% of your total sleep time. On average adults spend 15-20% of their total sleep time in deep sleep, the percentage usually decreasing with age. Regular physical activity, sticking to a regular sleep schedule, avoiding heavy meals before bed and long naps and caffeine in the afternoon can improve your chances of getting more deep sleep.
  6. Sleep Latency: Sleep latency is the time it takes for you to fall asleep. Ideally falling asleep shouldn't take more than 15-20 minutes. Falling asleep immediately (in less than 5 minutes) can be a sign that you're not getting enough sleep for your needs. If you have trouble falling asleep, try getting out of bed and doing something relaxing, ideally in low light conditions, until you feel sleepy again.
  7. Sleep Timing: Your sleep timing is an important contributor to your sleep quality and daytime performance. Most of your body’s essential processes such as your body temperature, hormone release and hunger run in 24-hour cycles called circadian rhythms. Sleeping during the night and staying awake and active during the day can help keep these internal rhythms in balance, and helps you perform better throughout the day. Oura considers your sleep timing to be optimal and aligned with the sun when the midpoint of your sleep falls between midnight and 3 am, allowing some variability for morning and evening types. A timing significantly earlier or later can lower your sleep score. Tranquility is an indication of how restless you are while sleeping. Lifestyle choices and environmental factors can reduce your tranquility. Stressful pre-bed factors such as reading email, watching disturbing movies, blue light exposure, and alcohol can certainly negatively affect your tranquility. You should also work to sleep in a completely dark and reasonably cool (65-68 F) environment. Latency and Timing are both timed to your chronotype. You may not have enough sleep pressure if your latency (the time it takes to fall asleep once in bed) is too long. You can try staying up later or get out of bed and read if you have trouble falling to sleep quickly (less than 10 minutes). Timing means the midpoint of your sleep is between midnight and 3 AM. Humans are wired to sleep at night and no matter what your chronotype, whether a wolf (late night) or lion (early riser), your midpoint should be in this window. Thank you Dr. Breus, “The Power of When”.

Here's an example of a night of sleep (apparently from someone unlucky enough to have left their phone in Wi-Fi mode with Bluetooth on – which is not a way to enhance deep sleep!)


Your Personal Sleep Score

Based on these 7 sleep parameters, Oura then gives you a daily sleep score based on the quantity and quality of your rest.

Ranging from 0-100%, the sleep score is an overall measure of how well you slept. The score is a weighted sum of the 7 sleep parameters above, which are displayed as horizontal bars in the sleep view.

You can consider a sleep score of 85% to be very good, and a score above 90% excellent. A sleep score above 85% typically means that all sleep contributors are in balance and that you meet the typical sleep needs of a person your age.

As sleep needs vary from person to person, it's good to evaluate and interpret your sleep score in relation to your feelings and performance level. Aiming for a perfect score isn't everything: If you feel refreshed in the morning and energetic throughout the day, your sleep score is most likely at a good level.

Your Personal Bedtime Window

The new Oura app guides you find your ideal bedtime that helps you wake up refreshed and feeling energetic throughout the day. You’ll see the bedtime guidance on your daily timeline in the Oura app after the Oura ring has collected enough data of your sleep quality and rhythms.

Bedtime schedules – and overall daily rhythms – are personal. As you learned in my interview with Dr. Michael Breus, some of us are more morning-type persons, others are at their best late evening. Different types of sleep and daily rhythms are called chronotypes. For most people, we feel at our best when our sleep and activity are in harmony with our chronotype.

When determining your own ideal bedtime, the Oura app searches for a wake-up and bedtime schedule that matches your good quality nights: when you sleep long and tranquil enough, your sleep contains a good pattern of sleep stages, and you recover during the night. This means that your score is at least 85.

If there's a clear pattern between your good quality nights and sleep schedule, what the Oura app shows you is your optimal bedtime window: the time when you’re most ready for sleep. If there's some improvement that would enhance your sleep quality, for example going to bed earlier to get enough sleep, the Oura app shows you a recommended bedtime window. That’s the bedtime I recommend you to gradually move towards.

Note: if you sleep poorly, suffer from severe sleep disorders or have very irregular schedules, it can be that the Oura app cannot recommend you a bedtime window at all. In this case, there are other factors in your overall sleep quality that you need to pay attention first before trying to optimize your bedtime.

Understanding The Sleep Stages You'll See On The App

Sleep can be divided into two basic categories: Non-rapid eye movement sleep (NREM) and Rapid eye movement sleep (REM) which alternate in approximately 90-minute cycles throughout the night. Each sleep stage has its own characteristics, which are reflected in your metabolic, immune and autonomic nervous system functions in a number of different ways.

Light sleep makes up about 50% of total sleep time for adults, and typically begins a sleep cycle. Light sleep consists of N1 and N2 sleep, which are the first two stages of NREM sleep. Sleep usually begins with N1, which is a very light sleep stage between sleep and wakefulness. Typically most light sleep is N2 sleep. Deeper than N1, stage N2 sleep also prepares your body for transitions between sleep stages. During this stage your muscles begin to relax, your heart and breathing rates slow down, but you still wake up quite easily.

Deep Sleep, or N3 is the third stage of NREM sleep. It's the most restorative and rejuvenating sleep stage, enabling muscle growth and repair. When you're in deep sleep, your blood pressure drops, heart and breathing rates are regular, arm and leg muscles are relaxed and you're very difficult to awaken.

The amount of deep sleep can vary significantly between nights and individuals, and it can make up anywhere between 0-35% of your total sleep time. On average adults spend 15-20% of their total sleep time in deep sleep, the percentage usually decreasing with age.

Regular physical activity, avoiding heavy meals and alcohol before bed and long naps and caffeine in the afternoon can improve your chances of getting more deep sleep. For an even deeper dive into strategies for increasing deep sleep, read this article I wrote on how sleep cycles work and how to enhance deep sleep.

Then there's REM sleep, which plays an important role in re-energizing your mind and your body, making it an important contributor to your sleep quality. REM is associated with dreaming, memory consolidation, learning and creativity. Making up anywhere between 5-50% of your total sleep time, the amount of REM can vary significantly between nights and individuals. On average REM counts for 20-25% (1,5h – 2h) of total sleep time for adults, and it usually decreases with age. REM is regulated by circadian rhythms, i.e. your body clock. Getting a full night's sleep, sticking to a regular sleep schedule and avoiding caffeine, alcohol or other stimulants in the evening can increase your chances of getting more REM.

Finally, you should pay attention to awake time. Awake time is the time spent awake in bed before and after falling asleep. Measuring the time it takes for you to fall asleep (sleep latency) and the time you spend awake in bed after going to sleep can be used to evaluate your sleep quality. A high amount of awake time can indicate difficulties falling or staying asleep. It's also usually connected to daytime sleepiness. In other words, what counts is not how much time you spent in bed, but how much of that time was spent sleeping.

How To Understand Your Readiness Score

Instead of just measuring individual metrics like steps or heart rate, Oura helps you to understand how your body responds to your activities, daily choices and rhythms – your lifestyle and behavior – both in the short and long term. By understanding how well you have slept and recharged, it can determine your readiness to perform and help you adjust the intensity and timing of your activities. Your daily Readiness score is based on six contributors, which are displayed as horizontal bars in the Readiness view.

Ranging from 0-100%, the Readiness Score is a simple measure designed to help you identify days that are ideal for challenging yourself, and those that are better for taking it easy. The score, which is displayed as a percentage, is generated using all of the sensor data, physiological signals, sleep and activity patterns that are monitored by Oura.

The Readiness Score is affected by Readiness contributors, which are displayed as horizontal bars in the Readiness view. These parameters help you to evaluate how well your recent and cumulative sleep, activity and recovery are in balance. A Readiness Score above 85% indicates that you're well recovered. A score below 70% usually means that an essential Readiness Contributor, such as your body temperature or previous night's sleep, falls outside your normal range, or clearly differs from recommended, science-based values.

  1. Previous Night: How you slept last night can have a significant impact on your readiness to perform during the day. Getting enough good quality sleep is necessary for physical recovery, memory and learning, all part of your readiness to perform. For a maximum positive contribution to your Readiness Score, your Sleep Score needs to be above 88%, and at the high end of your normal range.
  2. Sleep Balance: Sleep Balance shows if the sleep you've been getting over the past two weeks is in balance with your needs. Sleep Balance is based on a long-term view on your sleep patterns. It's measured by comparing your total sleep time from the past two weeks to your long-term sleep history and the amount of sleep recommended for your age.  Typically adults need 7-9 hours of sleep to stay healthy, alert, and to perform at their best both mentally and physically. Insufficient sleep can eventually lead to sleep debt. Paying back sleep debt and rebuilding sleep balance takes several nights of good sleep.
  3. Previous Day: Your level of physical activity yesterday is one of the key contributors to your Readiness Score. When Previous Day is in balance and the contributor bar is at 100%, you’ll know you’ve balanced your need for activity and rest, and substituted a nice amount of inactive time with low activity. An exceptionally high amount of inactivity or activity leads to a drop in your Readiness Score. If your readiness is low due to intense training and increased Activity Burn, taking time to recover can pay off as improved fitness.
  4. Activity Balance: Activity Balance measures how your activity level over the past days is affecting your readiness to perform. A full bar indicates that you've been active, but kept from training at your maximum capacity. This has boosted your recovery and helped build up your energy levels. While easier days can have a positive effect on your readiness level, challenging your body every now and then by increasing your training volumes helps maintain and develop your physical capacity in the long run.
  5. Body Temperature: Oura measures your body temperature variations while you sleep each night. These variations are shown in relation to your baseline average, displayed as 0.0 in the Body Temperature Deviation graph.  Oura uses the data gathered over the first few weeks of use to establish your accurate baseline temperature. After that, the baseline is kept up to date continuously. So, if you feel a bit under the weather during the first weeks of use, your body temperature baseline will adjust to your normal body temperature over time. The Body Temperature Deviation graph is visible in the trends view of the Oura app. To access it, select Trends in the app's main menu, or tap the temperature reading in the readiness view. The Body Temperature Deviation graph has two different views. The 30-day view focuses on short-term temperature changes. The Trend view is optimized to reveal monthly body temperature fluctuations. People who menstruate typically see lower body temperature readings during the first half of their menstrual cycle (follicular phase), followed by a rise during the second half (luteal phase). A temperature reading clearly out of your normal range will have a negative impact on your readiness score, as it typically indicates an increased need for recovery, and is a sign that something in your body status requires attention
  6. Resting Heart Rate: Resting Heart Rate (RHR) is the number of times your heart beats per minute when you're at rest. It's a good measurement of your sleep quality, recovery and overall health. Normal RHR for adults can range anywhere from 40-100 BPM. The best way to determine your normal level is by looking at your own data history. Oura measures your heart rate throughout the night and displays the lowest 10-minute average it has detected. It evaluates the optimal level for your RHR by studying your data after active days and recovery days for a couple of weeks. Once it knows your normal range, your Readiness Score will start to become more accurate.  Oura interprets a RHR slightly below your average as a sign of good readiness, whereas an exceptionally high or low RHR is a sign of increased need for recovery. A sign of good recovery is that your RHR reaches its lowest point during the first half of the night. Your RHR is affected by various factors, such as physical activity, nutrition, body position, and environment. A low RHR is often associated with good fitness and overall health. Your RHR can be elevated after a late night workout or when your body temperature is higher than your average. Alcohol, a heavy meal before bed or late exercise speed up your metabolism and keep your RHR elevated, delaying your recovery and increasing your sleep needs.  For women, the menstrual cycle can cause a small increase in RHR during the second half of the cycle (ovulatory and luteal phases). It’s also normal for your RHR to be higher than usual when recovering from an intense training day. As you increase your training volumes and your fitness improves, your RHR should start to decline over time.
  7. Heart Rate Variability: This is a big one. When a person is relaxed, a healthy heart’s beating rate shows remarkable variation in the time interval between heartbeats. By calculating this variation i.e. your heart rate variability (HRV) while you sleep, Oura can help you better understand your body’s reactions and your readiness to perform. Oura calculates your night-time HRV from the rMSSD, a well-known HRV parameter that provides a good view on your Autonomic Nervous System activity. The HRV reading you see in the readiness view is the average of all the 5-minute samples measured while you sleep.  The HRV value given by Oura can range from anywhere below 20 to over 100. Defining a normal range is tricky: your own minimum and maximum values depend on several factors, such as your age, hormones, circadian rhythm, lifestyle and overall health. Because of this it’s best to compare your numbers to your own baseline values.  Because your HRV is measured throughout the night, the reading Oura gives will most likely differ from a reading you get when measuring your HRV for a few minutes just after waking up, or during the day, when there are lots of other internal and external factors that can affect the measurements. HRV is a good indicator of your recovery status. Typically when a person is under physical or mental stress, parasympathetic activity decreases and sympathetic activity increases. As a result, heart rate increases and HRV decreases. Sometimes HRV reacts earlier than heart rate, which makes it a particularly sensitive measurement. High HRV is typically a sign of general health and fitness, whereas lowered HRV can be a sign of stress or overtraining. HRV also tends to decrease with age. Exercise is one of the best ways to increase HRV and reduce stress. Exercise, like lots of other things, is dose dependent: too much can lead to overtraining and negative health consequences. Strenuous exercise may lower HRV for one night but increases future HRV levels.
  8. Respiratory Rate: Oura tracks your respiratory rate while you sleep, and shows your nocturnal average respiration rate in the new Oura app, and your Oura Cloud dashboard. Although your respiratory rate is not used to score your readiness, it's a good indicator of your health status. A typical respiratory rate for a healthy adult at rest is 12–20 breaths per minute.
  9. Recovery Index: Recovery Index measures how long it takes for your Resting Heart Rate to stabilize. A sign of very good recovery is that your RHR reaches its lowest point during the first half of the night, at least 6 hours before you wake up. Alcohol, a heavy meal before bed or late exercise speed up your metabolism and keep your RHR elevated, delaying your recovery and increasing your sleep needs.

How The New Oura App Works

The brand new Oura app has a beautiful visual design. With rich data visualizations and useful features such as tags and notes, it’s an enhanced mobile sleep and recovery tracking dashboard for both old and new Oura ring users. The app guides you throughout your day, helping you see the moments that matter, as they matter. In addition, it introduces useful data visualizations, notes and tags, as well as enhanced trend views of your sleep, readiness and activity data.


The Oura app main view

The timeline on the app, pictured above, is the main view of your daily data and goals. From here, you can explore the moments of your day and get insights to drive your activity. Everything starts with your Readiness score and Readiness insight, guiding you to find the optimal pace for the day: is it time to break records, or perhaps relax and recharge.

As you've just learned, sleep has a remarkable influence on your readiness to perform, so below your Readiness score and insight you’ll find a summary of the key data of your previous night’s sleep. You’ll also see your sleep timing, helping you follow up and learn about your own daily rhythm.

The next element on the main timeline is your activity target for the day. This is a dynamic view, so you can easily follow up your activity target progress on the go. When you want to dive deeper into any of the readiness, sleep or activity related data and insights, you can just tap the card and start exploring.

Bedtime approaching view on the Oura appOther dynamic elements on the timeline include tags and notes and manual activity inputs. These make it easier for you to keep track of what you’ve been up to. The tags and notes are particularly useful when you want to dig deeper into the possible causes for certain sleep and recovery related issues, such as variations in the amount of deep sleep or resting heart rate. On the new timeline, you’ll also automatically see your restful moments during the day, if you took a much-needed nap for example. The app also shows you your lowest resting heart rate during your restful moment.

A few other trendy new features include:

Bedtime window: We humans operate according to a 24-hour rhythm, also called our circadian rhythm. Basically, it means that there’s an optimal time for everything: for sleeping, eating, relaxing, performing. Finding your optimal daily rhythm helps you get enough restorative sleep, recover well, and have the energy you need during the day. When you take the Oura app into use, it starts to learn about your unique lifestyle and daily rhythms. After the app has collected enough sleep and body signal data, you can get advice on the most suitable bedtime window for you.

Readiness, sleep and activity insight cards and new data visualizations: Click on any of the elements on the main view to see additional details for your readiness, sleep and activity. You will also see additional insights which will guide you to make the optimal choices for the current day and following night.Readiness view on the Oura app(Tap the insight card and you’ll get a detailed view on your readiness data, such as resting heart rateheart rate variability, and body temperature deviation. New features in the detailed readiness view: you’ll see your nightly heart rate variability curve, and average nocturnal respiratory rate.)

The sleep card insights tell you how your night was, what was your sleep timing and average resting heart rate:Sleep view on the Oura app(Tap the card and you’ll get a detailed view of your sleep data, such as sleep stages, awake time during the night, sleep duration, and efficiency.)

The activity card insights tell you your activity goal for the day:Activity view on the Oura app(Tap the card and you’ll get a detailed view on your activity data, such as your activity goal progress in calories, kilometers/miles, and steps, as well as your sedentary time, and activity intensities.)

In addition, you can now share your readiness, sleep and activity insights with friends.

Notes and tags: Tags are a selection of some of the most common things that can influence your sleep quality, e.g. stress, heavy meals and alcohol. Notes you can write yourself, add anything you think is worth keeping in mind. Both tags and notes help you keep on track of what you’ve been up to, and find possible correlations between your behavior and sleep quality.

Oura app notes feature

Trends view on the Oura app

Trends are a powerful tool to truly investigate your data, giving you a look at how your body reacts over time. You can also visit the Oura Cloud on their web interface to dig deeper into your individual data, by comparing different trends and looking at correlations between your readiness, sleep and activity. This is quite handy because the Oura web interface allows you to overlay any two metrics collected by the ring. This is where the citizen scientist in you begins to shine. You can implement different lifestyle changes and see how they affect one or more metrics. Some interesting combinations include:

  1. Exercise and Timing: How does the nature and timing of your exercise affect your deep sleep, overall sleep quality, HRV, or RHR? Graph Total Burn/High Activity versus Deep Sleep/Sleep Score/HRV/RHR. You will need to play around with the timing of exercise to see what gives you the biggest bang for the buck.
  2. Eating: What you eat and the timing of meals can have a big impact on your sleep. This is due mostly to circadian rhythms. We are wired from a biological standpoint to eat between sunrise and sunset. Unfortunately, most people eat well after sunset, which can throw off your circadian clock and lower the quality of your sleep.
  3. Alcohol: How does one glass of wine affect your sleep and sleep quality? I would look at Trends in Deep Sleep, REM Sleep, overall Sleep Score, HRV, and HR. I have found that one glass of wine with dinner has little impact, but two or more wreck my sleep.
  4. Caffeine – How does the amount of caffeine and timing affect your sleep? I would look at trends in Deep, REM, overall Sleep, HRV, and HR. Some people do fine drinking coffee well into the afternoon, while others need to steer clear of coffee after 10 am. The effect is partially due to whether you are a slow or fast metabolizer of caffeine. DNA tests such as 23andme show this genetic characteristic.
  5. Blue Light Exposure – Research has shown that artificial blue light exposure downregulates melatonin, this being the sleep hormone. And more recently, it has been discovered that our skin has similar receptors to our eyes. So skin exposure to artificial blue light can also mess with your sleep and overall health. So limiting post-sunset exposure to computers, smartphones, and overhead compact fluorescent and LED lights will likely help improve your sleep. Interesting metrics to track as you play around with blue light exposure are Deep, REM, Sleep Score, Sleep Efficiency, and Tranquility.


The last tidbit I’ll share with you is this. From Paleo f(x) in Austin last spring to the SPARK Biohacking conference in Ontario last fall, something interesting I’ve noticed is that many of the world’s leading physicians, health practitioners, biohackers, authors and professional athletes have one thing in common: they're all wearing Oura rings.

In other words, this thing seems to be taking the world by storm, and hopefully you now understand why…

…so if a wristband isn't your thing, and you'd prefer (like me) to wear a ring, nothing beats the team, science and technology behind the Oura.

If you want to get in on the self-quantification action and grab a ring for yourself, simply follow this link.

Finally, if you have questions about sleep cycles, activity readiness, or anything else I discussed in this article, leave your comments and questions below, and I’ll reply.

Ask Ben a Podcast Question

37 thoughts on “How I Track Sleep, The Top 7 Sleep Parameters To Track, Interpreting Your Sleep Trends & Much More.

  1. Mira says:

    may I ask what the promo code is for the oura ring?

    1. Oura no longer has promo codes unfortunately.

    2. My husband uses a Summit to Sea soft hyperbaric chamber which he uses 3 nights a week with over 215 dives total. He is recovering from a Severe TBI. We are interested in the Oura ring,which has been recommended by a few people. Do you think he could wear this ring into the chamber?

  2. Sean Olmstead says:

    Has anyone found that Recovery Time / Precious Day Activity seems to be out of wack? Every time I get a good workout in, the next day my PDA score is nearly 0—indicating the app seems to think I “overdid it” the day before. Likely coupled with this, even if I have a high sleep score, every day after I workout it tells me I may have overdone it the previous day and need to recover by taking the day off to rest. Doesn’t seem accurate. (Separate HRV monitoring with a Polar tells me my HRV is fine and to work out regularly.)

    1. Kathy Kwait says:

      I have the same problem. Every single day for the past 3 weeks my Oura ring shows Recovery Time: “pay attention” with the red bar all the way to the far left. It never changes from day to day. All other parameters with Acitvity, Sleep, etc are still accurate. I’ve been using the ring for about 2 months and it worked fine at first. Now the bar is just stuck there and it brings my activity score down.

    2. Josh says:

      I’ve o my had mine for a few days but I’m getting similar results. One day where I just did chores around the house and went to the store once (essentially not much activity) had me at over 17,000 step count! Something like 8.5 miles walked. I’m guessing this is what is blowing up my activity score. The next day I ran for 25 min and then just worked my office job (sitting all day) and then had a lazy night at home and still showed my steps at 12,400 and my activity as being really high. Seems off to me. I’m going to try wearing my ring o. My non-dominant hand today to see if that brings my activity score and steps into a normal range.

  3. Leanne says:

    I see someone earlier mentioned the Whoop, but no response. Ben, can you comment on which you believe to be more accurate- Whoop or Oura? Maybe this would be a good idea for an article – pros and cons or similarities and differences between them? I’m debating between the two…thanks!

  4. Simon Petersen says:

    Hey ben! just read this article and ordered a Oura ring! Also i’ve read your other articels about sleep and im curious to hear what your opinion on the earthpulse products that you use? And if you like your SR1 more than the earthpulse and what are the main differences? finally do u also have a coupon code for them? ;)

    Thanks buddy, for the 50$ off.

  5. John M Medwin says:

    Are you sure that it’s best that your resting heart rate occur in the first half of sleep? Your trend (as well as mine), shows resting heart rate to go lowest probably about an hour before awakening. Makes sense — and the side bars Oura provides indicates that lowest heart rate occurred at end — which is good.

  6. Scott Phelps says:


    Do you wear the ring during pull ups or barbell work? I’m hesitant to buy one almost all my work outs involve some bar work, barbell work, dumbbell work in a HIIT format aka Crossfit.



    1. Daniel says:

      I wore mine during a strength workout using dumbbells, barbells, Pullup bars etc and it did get a few scratches on the under side so I prefer to take it off for my workouts and enter in the workout after using the add activity feature, its not as accurate as if I’d worn it, but most of the value of the oura ring lies in its sleep and nervous system tracking capabilities

      1. Josh says:

        Hi Daniel- which color did you get (black/silver)? Wondering if the finish on the black (Heritage) will scratch off. Anything on my hands is incredibly scratch prone…

  7. Rob says:

    Ben are those screen shots actually your resting heart rate and HRV? Wow those are impressive numbers!

  8. Johnny says:

    Hi Ben,

    Are you able to wear the ring while working out with dumbbells, kettlebells, etc? And does the ring track any fitness metrics? Thanks.

    1. Yes, contact Oura for complete info!

  9. Joao Filipe says:

    Anybody have an idea on how to increase your Rem sleep stage. I have yet to find a formula that gives me consistent numbers. Thx

  10. Jonay Perez says:

    Hi Ben!

    After wearing the ring for a while I found out I sucked at Deep sleep around 4%.( 20 min) While I get a pretty decent REM ( around 2 to 2:30)

    Anything I can do to effectively jack up my deep sleep? I’m really concerned about it


    Happy New Year

    1. Definitely! search my site for "deep sleep" …I have written a few articles about this.

  11. Eric Stromerson says:

    Looking forward to getting my ring that I ordered 3 months ago. After waiting so long I hope it is as good as Ben is saying. However even though it may be a great product, I’m not sure they need more business that some of the top health Podcasts are pushing their way if they can keep up with production.

    1. Eric Stromerson says:

      Ok I finally got my ring and reading this article really helps understand it. Thanks Ben! Looking forward to keeping track of everything it can do.

  12. Natalie Edwards says:

    Hi Ben,

    The link to purchase the Oura ring is broken & I’m hesitant to open via another link.

    Any suggestions?



    1. It's been updated. Thank you!

  13. David says:

    Hi Ben
    David from the UK I have been wearing the new Oura ring for several months and it tracks the length of my sleep really well however the amount of deep sleep recorded is far less than that recorded by my Whoop (which I have worn for over 2 years) and the REM is also usually a different value. As a fit V65, with sleep apnea, these values are important to me to monitor my Recovery/Readiness from training. Do you have any opinion on which device is more accurate or any information on validation of either device? I love the convenience of wearing the ring but am conserved as one or other of the devices (or both) are not giving me the correct values?

  14. Jason Blevins says:

    Looks like that first link before the discount code isn’t working.

  15. Matthew says:

    What can you do if you can’t seem to bump up deep sleep beyond an hour no matter how long you sleep?

    1. Sam empie says:

      I’ve heard that some people have benefits with the following:
      Sauna and cold shower cycle a few hours before bed
      CBD oil full spectrum about an hour before bed
      Red light therapy at night
      Making sure to stop eating 3 hours before bedtime
      Also a good hard workout sometimes does the trick for me

      Hope this helps!

  16. Cara says:

    I’ve had the ring for over a year and it’s great but I can’t seem to figure out why my average heart rate is consistently 10 beats higher than my normal for the past 5 months. My HRV is tanked at 18 and I’ve tried everything to help it get better. More rest doesn’t affect it but my sleep isn’t restorative at the elevated heart rate and often I can’t sleep well with my heart racing all night. Any ideas?

    1. Joe says:

      Hey Cara, I heard a similar story, and I think that Oura did an update on the algorithm that increased everyone’s rhr by a few beats.

      1. Cara Zaller says:

        Thanks Joe. -That would make a lot of sense. Do you know that was done? I can look back at my records. Still, my HR seems high compared to Ben’s and my HRV is extremely lower. Granted I’m 50 and he’s under 40 but I’m doing everything I can to recover, I eat mostly all organic, I do yoga, meditate, go to sleep by 10pm, get out in sunlight in the morning, take walks in nature, etc and still it’s super low. How could his be 126 when mine is mostly below 20? Something is off. Plus, I’m exhausted all day so it’s not like that’s my norm and feel good with that low of a number.

        1. This is just my opinion. I am not a doctor, and I recommend speaking to a licensed physician.. I would consider getting some testing done if you're living a healthy lifestyle, but struggling so much. Wellness FX is very comprehensive:

  17. Matt Lane says:

    I’d really love to hear real stories from you or others on how the data actually benefited you. The data is great but unlike G.I. Joe, knowing is not always half the battle. 😁 What you DO with the data is what I’m very interested in. Thanks Ben!

  18. Jostein Stokkan says:

    Hi Ben. I’m interested in getting one. What do you do during weightlifting? Take the ring off? If not I imagine it quickly gets damaged.

    1. Vince says:

      I put a small piece of white athletic tape on the bottom of mine and it significantly reduces scratches. I guess gloves works also but not really my style

  19. Mark Stevens says:

    I have had the Oura for a couple of weeks now and I am really impressed. While I like looking at the details having the quantification rolled up into 3 simple scores is ideal. Just like my business I only want the roll up unless something is needs to be addressed. Thanks for the code Ben. While the ring is totally worth the full price it is nice to get a break!

  20. April says:

    Hi Ben,

    Thank you! I just tried the coupon code and it’s for $50. Should it be $58?

    1. It's 50. Sorry for the confusion.

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