Kiki Koroshetz is the wellness director of the goop editorial team and the head of goop Book Club.
I ran tracks in high school, and I did well in my events. But this is not a story about how I am nostalgic for the high school track. Once, driving down the street for an encounter, my mom stopped at a light and turned to look at me. “You don’t seem to like this,” he said. (I spent the previous twenty minutes talking about how sorry I was for the inner track.) “You know, you’re not going to do that. You can stop.”
I didn’t leave the indoor track, and my senior year, I also cared for an outdoor track. But at least I stopped here. In college, I played football, which I could do while involuntarily smiling. For some time now, I’ve always worn the digital watch I had used to train me for racing. It had once been lime green and was now dirty. One of my teammates threatened to cut him off, but the belt fell off on his own.
As an adult who no longer plays a sport in competition, I have not been interested in running and physical tracking devices of any kind. I don’t trust them to be normal enough to enjoy them. In my mind, writing for a half marathon or keeping a log of my daily activities had the potential to turn me into a seventeen-year-old boy looking to run a five-minute mile and not get cold. Then we got into a pandemic, and just walking around became a revelation for people. How would they get 10,000 steps a day? I was wondering. Were they lying? Did anyone have work to do? I activate the health app on my iPhone — I rarely reach 5,000 steps a day a week.
Then goop started selling it Oura Ring, a portable device that uses advanced technology to monitor your body’s pulse, movement and temperature and organizes this data into a description of your overall health. When I read “advanced technology” on the report prepared by our scientific team, I read it as “too advanced for me”. I thought an editor on our team might interview some of the staff who already had an Oura Ring. I posted on our Slack channel of all the companies to see if anyone was using one, and GP replied four minutes later, “I do. I like it.” A few more messages exchanged and I reassigned the story to myself and decided not to interview anyone else. I had the Oura Ring size kit, decided on my right ring, and I placed an order for a size 7.
It turns out that wearing an Oura Ring isn’t like watching the split times of laps taken in high school hallways when it’s too cold to run outside. The Aura Ring is fun. And while the algorithms I use are beyond my comprehension and my desire to understand, the information presented is simple to understand. Here is what has happened to me in the three months since I brought one:
I walk at least 10,000 steps every day. (I hope some people don’t believe me and others find me annoying because they wouldn’t have believed me before Oura and I find it annoying.) To be precise, the Oura Ring measures your wrist by your finger and doesn’t in your wrist. It can track workouts and recovery time, yes, but also small subtle movements. I have a new appreciation for: getting up from my chair, taking out trash, bags of food that need more than a trip from the car to my apartment, walking in the dark with hot tea. Walking is now a non-negotiable at the same level as Cocoflossing– I enjoy these activities more than I feel comfortable admitting, and don’t want to sleep until I’ve done them.
Each day, the Gold gives you an activity point, which you can view on the app. (Your Oura Ring syncs with an app on your phone via Bluetooth. I like that Bluetooth is active on the ring only for short periods of time – about 1 percent of the day typically.) Your point of activity it is based on six factors. How active are you throughout the day? Do you move every hour? (The app can ping you to remember you if you want.) Do you respond to your daily activity goal? Frequency and volume of training: How many times have you achieved medium to high intensity activity during the last week and how much? Recovery time: Have you had enough easier days? For each day, you can see – on a spectrum of attention to the optimum – how you go about those different measures. You can also click on any factor on the app for more context and to read about what that data point can say about your own health. My monthly average for my activity score is ninety-five. And yes, I started with my best news.
I didn’t go into my sleep statistics for the first few weeks that I had the Oura Ring, but now I see why people wear it for this purpose. The ring approximates how much time during the sleep window is spent waking up, in light sleep, in deep sleep, and in REM sleep. There’s a graph in the app that shows you when you’re at each of these stages — so if you wake up at 3:17 am thinking about the text you forgot to send, you’ll see that. You also get a daily sleep score, based on total sleep, efficiency (percentage of time spent sleeping after going to bed), rest (less sleep disturbances mean a higher score), amount of sleep. REM, amount of deep sleep, latency (speed of sleep), and time (optimal by Oura standards is when the average point of your sleep falls between midnight and 3 am).
What’s interesting (for me) is that I’m a better sleeper than I thought. My average monthly sleep score is eighty. On average, according to Oura, 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 look at my sleep data and see “Good” or “Excellent” next to my “Rest” line – and I’m convinced I’m not all that tired. I know I don’t get enough rest when my latency point is on red. The Oura app says that to sleep ideally it takes fifteen to twenty minutes, but if you sleep in less than five minutes, it could be a sign that you’re not getting enough sleep. It was evening, I fell asleep in three minutes. And the night before, two minutes.
I’m not rigorous about tracking down all the changes in my sleep, but even looking at the data on a regular basis has motivated me to finally take the advice seen all over the internet and leave my phone out of my room. During this time, I began to see fewer measurements of sleep in the red zone and more crawling in the blue zone. It also means I read more books and spend less time scrolling Instagram to bed. And it means I have to get out of bed to turn off my alarm in the morning, which is significantly more than half the battle. Anecdotally, I’ve heard it said that some people sleep better with an air purifier, so my next experiment may involve buying the Dr. Air.
The last daily point is called preparation. This is based on seven factors: how much you slept the night before, sleep balance (this measure lasts the last two weeks because sleep debt is a monster), previous day’s activity, activity balance, temperature of the body, resting heart rate, variability heart rate (an indication of heart-to-heart rate changes that can be used as a measure of autonomic nervous system activity), and recovery index ( how long your resting heart rate to stabilize overnight). I was surprised to read about how accurate some of these measurements can be. When the Oura Ring was compare on a medical grade electrocardiogram, a reliability point of 99.9 percent was given for resting heart rate and a reliability point of 98.4 percent for heart rate 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 can affect these areas are eating and drinking alcohol just before bed and stress.
Will things be easy to change for me? No.
But nothing about using the Oura Ring is discouraging. Yesterday, my readiness point was sixty-seven. Today, I’m seventy-three years old, and on my home screen it says, “Okay,” then “You can do this” and “Your speed improves, okay! To reach your full potential, remember to keep your schedule up. consistent sleep and balanced activity levels ”. Right. Also on my homepage, I can see that I slept from 11:31 pm to 7:14 am and that my ideal time to sleep tonight is between 9:30 and 22:45
Now I’m glad I got up last night to finish reading Burned Sugar, the novel I started earlier this week, so I won’t be forced to do it tonight. But before I fell asleep, I set out to enter a few thousand steps.
This article is for informational purposes only. It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should never be invoked for specific medical advice. To the extent that this article presents the advice of doctors or physicians, the views expressed are the views of the expert cited and do not necessarily represent the views of goop.
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