Thoughtful Thursday…My new wearable self-quantification device...
Welcome to Thoughtful Thursday. This GreenNote Fitness newsletter mindfully gathers and distills useful information that is supportive to our journey. It is my mission to educate, inspire, and propel you into action that moves you towards your goals and life of purpose. Take control of your journey today.
Chances are you have heard about or you may even own some type of self-quantification device such as a Fitbit, Apple Watch, or Nike FuelBand as twenty-one percent of adult Americans use some form of technology to track their health data. More than half of adult Americans track at least one health metric, albeit literally, in our heads.
I personally have been tracking my meditation, gratitude practice, workouts, supplementation, and subjective observation of how I’m feeling each day for over six years using a spreadsheet and EverNote application. Not until now have I joined the ranks of techno-savvy adults purchasing a self-quantification device. But it is different than the ones listed above and I never would have bought one if it didn’t have this one feature in particular.
Why would we want to track anything? Legendary management consultant Peter Drucker famously said that which gets measured gets improved. There was a 2008 study that showed the act of tracking food further facilitates weight loss. This is one of the main reasons I have my clients track their daily consumption of food and beverage. The act of tracking increases your awareness which has immediate benefits. Then after tracking for awhile, the data will highlight trends and behaviors you may not have known. It is so important to have an accurate snap shot of what is occurring so that any gaps can be filled.
The tracking device I selected
For the tracking I want to do, I selected the Oura Ring. The number one reason I selected this particular device and the only reason I would ever considering wearing a device is that it has the capability to turn off the signal from the Oura. That way my body is not being bombarded with a Wi-Fi signal or a Bluetooth signal which most other self-quantification devices generate every one to three seconds. The second reason I selected this device is for it’s high accuracy of sleep data.
What did I want to track?
I wanted to track my sleep to gauge my “readiness” for what type of training I wanted to do that day. This became of particular importance when my left SI joint was going down a painful path similar to my right SI joint. I wanted to ensure I wasn’t overtraining and my nervous system was rested when a day of hard training was planned. It is important to know what’s working and what isn’t. The device I chose really helps you see what’s happening while you are sleeping.
Importance of sleep
There is no doubt the importance of quality sleep. This is becoming a topic that is discussed more and more. Sleep gives your body time to recover and repair itself. Ongoing sleep deficiency is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
The Oura Dashboard gives a comprehensive look at your night’s sleep. Here is a snap shot of one night.
Note although one may have slept through the night, not noticing waking up, it doesn’t necessarily mean that one had good quality of sleep. The Oura Ring delves into total sleep (total sleep spent in light, REM, and deep sleep), efficiency (sleep quality), disturbances (wake-ups, get-ups, restless time), REM sleep (rapid eye movement - essential role in re-energizing your mind and body), deep sleep (most restorative and rejuvenating sleep stage), sleep latency (time it took to fall asleep), sleep timing (important contributor to sleep quality and daytime performance).
The Oura Ring has a Readiness Score which can help me determine if I should do an easy yoga session, easy walk, or do hard-charging training. It takes a unique look at what makes a good night’s sleep. I can assess my sleep with a glance at this score. It uses information from your sleep the night before, your activity the day before, and a few other measures to help one make decisions about the upcoming day. This snap shot shows a Readiness Score of 85 on a scale from 0 to 100%. A Readiness score of above 85% indicates that you are well recovered.
Heart Rate Variability (HRV)
As indicated earlier, I wanted to gauge how well rested my nervous system was. Enter HRV. HRV is a measure of the variation in the time between each heartbeat. The variation is controlled by the autonomic nervous system. It is a good indicator of overall health status; the variation between beats is high if one is in a more relaxed state and lower if more stressed or tired. Changes to nutrition and lifestyle can potentially impact this rate which can be tracked with this device.
The Oura Ring tracks your average body temperature throughout the night. Room temperature and thus body temperature can impact your sleep quality. With enough data obtained to see trends, I will be able to see how much more REM sleep (restorative sleep phase) I get with adequate temperature levels.
Other cool things the Ring tracks
The Oura Rings tracks my activity, respiratory rate, and my resting heart rate (RHR) (a low RHR is associated with good fitness and overall heath). I will be able to see any correlation between getting in some deep breathing exercises and what my respiratory rate is. Also, if a drop in my heart rate accompanied by an increase in my heart rate variability leads to an increase in my sleep efficiency. Once I have enough data to see some trends, I will evaluate that to see if I need to be incorporating better breathing patterns i.e. awareness of breathing deep from the belly vs. shallow chest breathing, as well as other changes to nutrition and exercise.
The importance of consistent, quality sleep should not be undervalued. Instead, getting good quality sleep each night should be a priority. Over the next several weeks I’m going to be studying my data and will be paying attention to any trends that may need to be addressed. After all, if we aren’t aware of what’s going on, how can we improve?
Enjoy your journey,
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