The Oura Ring May Just Be the Perfect Mother's Day Gift and Here's Why

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Oura Ring Review 1272x920 1
Dana Dickey
  • Style: 20/20
  • Functionality: 19/20
  • Ease of Use: 17/20
  • Comfort: 20/20
  • Sleep Improvement: 19/20
    TOTAL                  95/100

Look, not to toot my own horn here, but I’ve always been a world-class overnight sleeper, as well as an Olympics-level afternoon napper. So, the hue and cry of insomniacs has always been a dull rumble to me—I’m sorry you poor worrywarts can’t just escape reality to the land of nod as I do, whenever I’ve been anywhere from my bed to an especially long subway ride. All that’s changed, however, since I’ve gotten older. Not sure if it’s the stimulation of the very online lifestyle I lead, my sole head of household responsibilities or simply an F-ton of streaming shows to consume (will it be Keri Russell in The Diplomat or her IRL hubby Matthew Rhys aka Perry Mason who’ll share my bed tonight? How about both!). Whatever the reason, I’ve been driven by any means necessary to feel more rested…which means trying The Oura Ring.

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Oura_ring-review: woman wearing Oura ring
Dana Dickey

What’s This Wearable Tech Actually Do?

I first encountered this wearable tech a few years ago, when a friend tried an early iteration, which yielded the hardly revolutionary insight that he slept worse when he had a few drinks. I wasn’t impressed by such revelations, until the new Oura Ring Gen 3 model arrived, which added new, game-changing functionality. For wearable tech neophytes, this sleep and wellness tracker looks like a simple wedding band but is actually a titanium band filled with technology that enables it to track wearers’ sleep stages, menstrual cycles, heart rate, blood oxygen level, breathing rate, skin temperature and heart rate variability (which I didn’t even know was a thing, until the Oura Ring made me ashamed of mine…more on that in a minute). You can even get a special version that's a collab with Gucci and carries the elegant double-G logo (and costs twice as much as the standard ring).

I've been wearing my Oura Ring for three months (and even got my friend to get one), and we compare scores and look at metrics all the time. I’d just been seriously looking at my sleep score, readiness score and other metrics when my pal called me in a panic. She was seriously agitated over what she perceived as an alarmingly elevated resting heart rate that she called her cardiologist—she’s seen a heart specialist ever since suffering a mild stroke a year ago—who gently told her to take off her Oura Ring until she’d had an EKG to make sure everything was fine (it was). I flip through my daily Oura Ring biometrics on the app, and even when I slip up and get less than six hours of sleep a night, I am usually pleasantly surprised by how much I learn about not only the science of sleep and overall well-being, but also how I can personally make slight adjustments to my daily habits in order to feel better. So here’s my takeaway—if you’re a hair-trigger symptoms Googler, you need to remember that this ring is not an electrocardiogram that’s poised to tell you death is impending. It’s just information, data that helpfully guide you to behavior changes or even a medical check-up, but not data that should stress you out. Today, my friend is back to wearing her Oura 3 ring after her doctor ran an electrocardiogram and determined her heart-healthy. “The biometrics this ring gives you for the money is incredible,” she says,

How Can This Help Me Sleep?

We’ve learned, just by tapping on the explainers next to our read-outs on the app, that it’s not only the total amount of sleep that factors into how refreshed you feel, it’s the amount of time your body spends in various sleep stages. For example, I learned that I am deficient in REM sleep (the body needs at least 1.5 hours a day to re-energize mind and body) as well as deep sleep (the 1+ hours in which muscles relax and repair, blood pressure drops and the brain flushes out toxins). What’s nice is that Oura gives suggestions as to how to increase less-than-optimum scores—for example, the app suggested I go to sleep earlier, since deep sleep occurs more frequently earlier at night. There are even guided mediations with water, rain and other natural sounds to help relax me before shut-eye. Granted, these are not new suggestions for someone who feels blah—just go to sleep earlier! meditate!—but the app’s way of quantifying and personalizing my body’s performance makes me more interested in hearing and taking the device’s advice. (Although, truth: Sometimes I find myself thinking, when I get to sleep at a reasonable hour, that I can’t wait to wake up and get a “good grade” from my Oura Ring, as though it is my kindergarten teacher and I’m an eager grade schooler). Hey, whatever works.

What Do Experts Say About Oura?

A word about these “optimum” scores: Studies have shown that among fitness and sleep trackers, the Oura Ring Gen 3 is tops, along with Garmin, for tracking sleep…and since the ease and chic of wearing my matte black ring beats a big running watch by a mile, there’s no competition. However, as sleep specialist and UC Berkely professor Matthew P. Walker has pointed out, the absolute values reported by the Oura Ring are not as accurate as those determined in a high-tech, controlled sleep lab study. Walker himself wears an Oura Ring, so he’s no naysayer—but he finds the biometrics useful not as absolute values as much as comparisons with previous reports. In other words, if the app is telling a wearer that they are experiencing increasing bouts of wakefulness during the night, it’s a good data point to inspire a lifestyle change for the better. (In my case, one helpful such suggestion was skipping a heavy meal before bed.)

That lines up with my experience using Oura, which initially thrilled me since I began using it during a period in late winter when I was sleeping long hours, before schedule demands and allergies started encroaching on my peaceful nighttime routine. Then I explored my heart rate variability (HRV), which is how the body responds to stress, traveling and training. Average HRV can range below 20 to over 120 and is highly personal, but my score of 19 bummed me out, since in general the higher the score, the healthier (to oversimplify greatly). I felt disappointed in my body(!) for a week or so, until I read through the app’s explanation that the average of my HRV scores and the way that it was generally trending was what was important, and that this adjusted average—if we’re using the teacher metaphor, perhaps this would be the grading on a curve—was what was important, and could be found as part of the combo platter of data used in an overall daily “readiness score.”

Does Oura Help You Long-Term?

I've only been using Oura for a handful on months, so I asked my colleague Destinee Scott, a longer-term Oura-ette, for her input.

"I've been wearing my Oura Ring for over seven months, and I've had two quarterly reports (you get them every three months), which give me an outlook on my achievements and how I can improve my sleep even more," Scott says. "It's important that you give the ring time to do its thing—it has to learn your body and process your stats to really be useful. For me, the ring has taught me that I often overextend myself, which leads to feeling restless and stressed. It's made me more mindful of how I'm taking care of myself because, at the end of the day, it's really just another tool that I can use to love on myself."

As for me, I’m still wearing my Oura Ring months on. Data aside, I love the way my ring looks at night, when sometimes the tiny red and green pinpricks of light that gage oxygen level and heartbeat glow for a moment, taking their readings. Other tired moms out there, I'm sure, would appreciate this gift that keeps on giving. Of course, my little Oura Gen 3 isn’t perfect—sometimes it thinks I’m exercising when I’m simply doing laundry, for example, and my pal has had typing sessions read as biking—but for sleep purposes, I’m thrilled with it. Not least, since I know someone is watching me, patiently waiting for me to put down the phone and go to sleep.

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Dana Dickey is a PureWow Senior Editor, and during more than a decade in digital media, she has scoped out and tested top products and services across the lifestyle space. Suitcases to sex toys, she's got an opinion on what's best. Dana is based in Los Angeles; her work has also appeared in Condé Nast Traveler, Vogue and The New York Times. Check her out on Instagram and LinkedIn.

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dana dickey

Senior Editor

Dana Dickey is a PureWow Senior Editor, and during more than a decade in digital media, she has scoped out and tested top products and services across the lifestyle space...