Why the Oura Ring 2 is the Perfect Health Tracker for Biohackers (And How it Helped Me Survive Parenthood)

By on January 7, 2019

I’ve written a Oura Ring 2 review over at Android Authority, and I just uploaded a video review over at the channel. So, reviewing it again here would be a little redundant, rather, I thought I’d share some of my experiences with the device and my thoughts after using it for nearly two months. More precisely, I want to talk about how it helped me to survive becoming a new parent, and why I would recommend it to anyone interested in optimizing their performance.

Oura Ring 2 is Good to Wear

I’ve worn a lot of fitness trackers as part of my job at Android Authority – it’s a massive perk and one of my favourite bits. During this time, I’ve learned that there is a kind of ‘trade off’ that must be made each time. That is to say that you need to weigh up the benefits you get from the tracker, against the inconvenience/discomfort of wearing it.

Let’s put it this way: I don’t think something like the Vivoactive HR would have lasted long during my six day stay in hospital without being thrown out of a window (it was NOT a smooth birth…).

I had no problems during the Oura Ring 2 review on the other hand. That’s because it is a ring (what gave it away?) with no ostentatious display – meaning that it doesn’t have to do much in order to justify wearing it. It sinks into the background, no different from wearing a wedding ring.

Oura Ring 2 Review

And it helps that it’s also waterproof, easy to charge, and doesn’t blare green light in your eyes every time it moves slightly.

That said, it is a little pricey, which it does need to justify. So good thing that it actually does do quite a lot!

Oura Ring 2 is the Best Sleep Tracker I’ve Ever Used

This was the big conclusion of my Oura Ring 2 review. Simply put: this is the best sleep tracker I’ve ever used. By far.

Some fitness trackers, like the aforementioned Vivoactive and even many Fitbits, will often get confused about when I’m asleep and get the timings entirely wrong. I think that has happened once with this ring over the last few months, which is an amazing track record.

Being a new parent, I’ve had a chance to really put the thing through its paces.

And being a new parent, I’ve had a chance to really put the thing through its paces. That is to say that I’ve been up and down like a yo-yo tending to Emmy’s every need (along with my poor wife). Often waking for just 5 minutes to rock her back off to sleep before going down again.

And what’s really impressive is that the Oura registers all of that. It precisely and accurately identifies even short periods of wakefulness. Again, this is something that other trackers I’ve used really struggle with.

Whether this performance is down to the 250Hz heart rate monitor, or whether it is due to the fact that it is on the finger (where it’s actually easier for an infrared device to take a pulse) is unclear. Maybe it’s just a strong algorithm.

Oura Ring App Review

Of course, it also does all of the other stuff too, showing you your resting heartrate, along with your sleep stages (time spent in REM sleep vs deep sleep vs light sleep). All this gives you a good picture of how well you slept and lets you look out for correlations.

Oura Ring 2 Provides Actionable Data

Another problem with the traditional health tracker, is that it won’t tell you what to do with all that sleep information. How does this translates to real-world performance and energy?

The Oura Ring 2 side-steps this issue with a ‘readiness score’. And what’s also refreshing about that metric is that it’s not only based on your sleep quality, but also many other biological indicators that we’ll look at in a moment. Moreover, it’s not just based on one night of sleep (or lack thereof) like a lot of the competition. Oura knows that a single bad night isn’t enough to make your whole day a write off – it looks at the big picture.

Oura Ring 2 Sleep Tracking

From my point of view, prior to having Emmy, I would then be able to see how far I could push myself in terms of late nights. I’d occasionally work late at night when work wasn’t finished during the day – I didn’t mind doing it as I really enjoy my “work” – but I was aware that if I kept doing it, it would hurt my performance. This way, I could actually get a read on how bad that effect might be.

And of course, now that we have Emmy, my sleep is completely out the window. The good news is that I can check the Oura Ring 2 to see jut how bad my sleep was, and whether I should consider working out and pushing myself or would be better off taking it easy. Sometimes if we get an early night, I actually get a little more sleep than I anticipate.

Oura Ring 2 Review: The Oura Ring 2 is For Biohackers

The Oura Ring 2 would be perfect for a busy professional then, or someone who likes the burn the candle at both ends. That’s not me anymore. I’m old now. That happens the moment you have a baby it seems.

But I am a biohacker. (by some definitions) I love tracking performance (you may have noticed) and the data this thing provides is amazing for someone like me – and probably you.

You don’t just get sleep data you see. You also get:

  • Resting heart rate
  • Heart rate variability
  • Respiratory rate
  • Body temperature
  • Recovery index (time taken for your heart rate to settle)
  • Activity/Sleep balance (sleep vs activity levels)

A lot of this is stuff you won’t get anywhere else. I’ve talked about heartrate variability before in the context of flow states and remaining calm (which Oura won’t currently be able to measure), but it can also be a useful indicator of recovery. In short, if your heartrate doesn’t fluctuate as you breathe in and out, then it suggests you might be sympathetic dominant – i.e. in mild a state of fight or flight. That in turn suggests that you might be either physiologically or psychologically stressed.

Oura Ring 2

You also get body temperature, which is again something you’re not likely to find elsewhere. This is particularly possible with the Oura Ring 2 because it is worn on the extremities, which show fluctuations in core temperature much more quickly than other parts of the body.

There’s enough data here that the ring was actually able to tell me when I was getting ill by seeing changes to my resting heart rate and my body temperature. It then advised me to take it easy – which you might think would be easy but is something other fitness trackers fail to do. Most would congratulate me for the elevated heart rate – assuming it meant I had been active!

The ring was actually able to tell me when I was getting ill by seeing changes to my resting heart rate and my body temperature

But my favourite thing about all this is that you can then log into the Oura Cloud and see graphs of these data overlaid on one another. That allows you to – for example – look for correlations between resting heartrate and deep sleep, or body temperature and respiratory rate.

This is great for anyone interested in biohacking, as it allows them to actually test that the changes they’re making are working – and to better account for confounding variables.

I’d love to be able to add more custom data in here in future. For instance, how does room temperature correlate with sleep quality? How does sleep quality predict my mood?

You Might Still Want to Wear Something Else

While I wrote a very positive Oura Ring 2 review though, it is not a perfect device. It can’t track all workouts automatically (though it will pick up a run), and if you forget to log a workout manually you won’t get the opportunity to go back and add it on subsequent days. The data reported from these workouts is limited compared with a dedicated running watch or Fitbit. There is no readout during training, and of course there are no notifications. There is no pedometer (instead you get ‘equivalent steps’ which is arguably more useful, but it would be nice to have both), you can’t sync with other apps on Android (though this is coming soon, and you can sync via Health Kit on Apple). General tracking during the day is limited.

Fitness tracker

But that’s not the point. As I said before: this is less a fitness tracker and more a health tracker. And in that regard, it exceeds my expectations. The good news is that as this is a low-profile ring, you can easily wear an additional fitness tracker on your wrist to fill in the gaps and get a complete picture of your health. As for whether you should buy one yourself, that depends on what you’re looking for. A lot of people can only afford a single tracking device and those same people may be more enamoured with the promise of weight loss and having notifications on their wrist. But there is another way, and it might in fact provide more enlightening when it comes to your overall health.

And for biohackers and anyone interested in optimizing performance, the Oura Ring 2 is an excellent choice. Watch the video for my full Oura Ring 2 review.

About Adam Sinicki

Adam Sinicki, AKA The Bioneer, is a writer, personal trainer, author, entrepreneur, and web developer. I've been writing about health, psychology, and fitness for the past 10+ years and have a fascination with the limits of human performance. When I'm not running my online businesses or training, I love sandwiches, computer games, comics, and hanging out with my family.

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