Kiki Koroshetz is a wellness director in the editorial office of the goop editor and ringleader goop Book Club.
I ran in high school and did well at my events. But this is not a story about how nostalgic I am for the high school track. Once, in a car on the way to a meeting, my mom stopped at a lamp and turned to look at me. “You don’t seem to enjoy this,” she said. (I’ve spent the previous twenty minutes talking about how much I don’t like the closed track.) “You know, you don’t have to do that. You could stop. ”
I didn’t leave the track indoors, and as a senior, I also ran on the track outdoors. But at least I stopped there. In college, I played football, which I could even while inadvertently smiling. For a while, I still wore the digital watch I used to train for races. It used to be lime green, and now it was dirty. One of my teammates threatened to break it, but the belt fell apart on its own.
As an adult who no longer plays sports, I was not interested in racing and physical tracking devices of any kind. I didn’t believe myself to be normal enough to enjoy them. In my mind, registering for a half marathon or looking at a diary of my daily activities could potentially take me back to a seventeen-year-old who was trying to run a five-minute mile and wasn’t cold. That’s when we got into a pandemic and simply walking became a revelation for people. How did they get 10,000 steps a day? I wondered. Did they lie? Didn’t anyone have a job? I turned on the health app on the iPhone – I rarely reached 5,000 steps on weekdays.
Then goop started selling Oura ring, a wearable device that uses advanced technology to monitor your heart rate, movement and temperature, and then organizes that data into a description of your overall health. When I read “advanced technology” in a report prepared by our scientific team, I read it as “too advanced for me.” I assumed the editor on our team could interview someone from the staff who already had an Oura ring. I posted on our company’s Slack channel to see if anyone was using it, and GP responded four minutes later: “Me. I love it. “A few more messages were exchanged and I rearranged the story into myself and decided not to interview anyone else. I got Oura Ring sizing kit, opted for my right ring finger and placed an order for size 7.
Turning out wearing an Oura ring turned out not like looking at split lap times through high school hallways when it’s too icy to run out. Oura ring is fun. And while the algorithms it uses are beyond my comprehension and my desire to understand, the data presented are easy to understand. Here’s what happened to me in the three months since I put it on:
I walked at least 10,000 steps every day. (I hope some people don’t trust me and others find me boring because I wouldn’t believe I was before Oura, and I’m bored.) For precision, the Oura ring measures your pulse on your finger, not your wrist. It can track workouts and recovery time, yes, but also small, subtle movements. I have a new recognition for: getting up from a chair, taking out the garbage, a bag of groceries that take several times from the car to my apartment, walking in the dark with hot tea. Walking now cannot be negotiated at the same level as Cocoflossing—I have more pleasure from these activities than I am comfortable admitting and I do not go to bed until I have done them.
Oura gives you an activity rating every day that you can see in the app. (Your Oura Ring syncs with the app on your phone via Bluetooth. I like that Bluetooth is active on the ringtone for only a short time – usually about 1 percent of the day.) Your activity rating is based on six factors. How active are you during the day? Do you move every hour? (The app can call you to remind you, if you wish.) Do you meet your daily activity goal? Frequency and scope of training: How often did you achieve medium to high intensity activity during the last week and how much? Recovery time: Did you have enough easier days? Any day you can see – pay attention to the optimal on the spectrum – how you are progressing with these different measures. You can also click on any factor in the app for more context and to read what that data point can tell you about your health. My monthly average for evaluating my activity is ninety-five. And yes, I started with my best news.
I didn’t go into sleep statistics for the first few weeks when I had the Oura ring, but now I see why people wear it for that purpose. The ring approximates how much time you spend awake during sleep windows, in light sleep, deep sleep, and in REM sleep. There’s a chart in the app that shows when you’re in each of these stages – so if you wake up at 3:17 and think about the text you forgot to send, you’ll see it. You also get a sleep result each day based on total sleep, efficiency (percentage of time spent sleeping after going to bed), rest (fewer sleep disorders means a higher score), amount of REM, amount of deep sleep, latency (how fast you fall asleep), and time (optimal according to Oura standards is when the middle of your sleep falls between midnight and 3 o’clock in the morning).
It’s interesting (to me) that I’m a better sleeper than I thought. My average monthly sleep score is eighty. On average, according to Ouri, I am in bed for about eight hours and sleep for about seven and a half. Some days I wake up wanting to stay in bed all day, and then I look at my sleep data and see “Good” or “Optimal” next to my “Restfulness” line – and I’m sure I’m not tired of it all. I know I don’t get enough rest when my latency score is in the red. The Oura app says that falling asleep ideally lasts fifteen to twenty minutes, but if you fall asleep in less than five minutes, it could be a sign that you are not getting enough sleep. I fell asleep in three minutes last night. And the night before, two minutes.
I’m not strict about tracking all the changes in sleep, but even a cursory glance at the data finally motivated me to listen to the advice seen over the internet and leave my cell phone in front of the bedroom. Around that time, I started to see fewer sleep measurements in the red zone, and more being drawn into the blue zone. It also means reading more books and spending less time scrolling Instagram in bed. And that means I have to get out of bed to turn off the alarm in the morning, which is well over half the battle. I have anecdotally heard that some people sleep better with an air purifier, so my next experiment might involve buying Air Doctor.
The last daily assessment is called readiness. This is based on seven factors: how well you slept the night before, sleep balance (this measurement looks at the past two weeks because sleep debt is a monster), previous day activity, activity balance, body temperature, heart rate, heart rate variability (indicator of fast changes in heart rate that can be used as a measure of autonomic nervous system activity) and recovery index (how long it takes for your resting heart rate to stabilize during the night). I was surprised to read how accurate some of these measurements can be. When it was the Oura ring compared on the medical electrocardiogram, she received a 99.9 percent reliability score for resting pulse and a 98.4 percent reliability score for pulse variability.
My average readiness score is seventy-five. Areas for improvement are resting heart rate, HRV balance, and recovery index. According to the app, some things that could affect these areas are eating and drinking alcohol just before bed and stress.
Will I change that easily? No.
But nothing about using the Oura ring seems discouraging. Yesterday my readiness rating was sixty-seven. Today is seventy-three, and on my home screen it says, “Okay,” then “You can do it,” and “Your readiness is improving, nice! To reach your full potential, remember to keep your sleep schedule consistent and your activity level balanced. “True. I also see on my homepage that I slept from 11:31 pm to 7:14 am and that my ideal time to sleep tonight is between 9:30 pm and 10:45 pm.
Now I’m glad I stayed awake last night to finish reading Burnt sugar, a novel I started at the beginning of the week, because I won’t be forced to do it tonight. But before I go to bed, I take a few thousand steps.
This article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. To the extent that this article contains the advice of a physician or physicians, the views expressed are those of the cited expert and do not necessarily represent the views of the goop.
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