Optimizing Your Sleep [Oura]
Optimizing Your Sleep
SUPERHUMAN SCORE: 9.25
Now and then, I’ll come across some wisdom that reads like a haymaker to my brain.
Like this quote from Robert F. Bennett:
“Your life is the sum result of all the choices you make, both consciously and unconsciously. If you can control the process of choosing, you can take control of all aspects of your life.”1
So true. Unfortunately, being in control of our choices isn’t always easy.
How come? Well, there’s often a missing ingredient to sound decision making: sleep.
A 2015 review from Clemson University found that sleep deprivation puts us at greater risk of succumbing to impulsive desires, poor attentional capacity, and compromised decision making.2
Experts recommend seven to nine hours of sleep for those aged 18-64.3 While every “body” requires varying amounts, getting less sleep than recommended results in suboptimal cognitive performance (among other consequences).
Arianna Huffington’s Sleep Revolution opened my eyes to how our society wears sleep deprivation like a badge of honor. Meanwhile, science frames sleep deprivation as a badge of misplaced priorities.4
So, how can we get the sleep we need without overdoing it? How can we use rest to power our success?
Let me tell you about Oura.
Oura Gen 3 (starting at $299 + $5.99 monthly subscription) is a smart ring that automatically tracks total sleep, time in deep sleep + REM, efficiency of sleep, and much more.
Note: While outside the scope of today’s sleep insight, Oura’s additional capabilities are noteworthy. Oura tracks a slew of metrics in the categories “Readiness” and “Activity” (heart rate, steps, body temperature—to name a few).
In every edition of All Systems Go, I assess the featured product across four superhuman dimensions: impact (50%), setup (20%), maintenance (20%), and aesthetics (10%).
Unlike your typical product review, I focus on factors that influence personal growth. Get to know the evaluation system.
Sleep is a top-of-the-funnel activity that has cascading effects on the performance of everything we do. For this reason, sleeping is one of the highest-leverage activities we can optimize to improve the quality of our lives.
In most cases, getting enough sleep is simply a habit. So, the question is: what’s the easiest and fastest way to build good habits?
In his book, Atomic Habits,5 James Clear introduces a helpful four-step process:
- The 1st Law (Cue): Make It Obvious.
- The 2nd Law (Craving): Make It Attractive.
- The 3rd Law (Response): Make It Easy.
- The 4th Law (Reward): Make It Satisfying.
Tech-enabled devices like Oura can enhance each of these steps. Through Clear’s framework, let’s explore how Oura augments the habit of sleep:
|The 1st Law (Cue): Make It Obvious||The physical ring internalizes identity; the app notifies you that you’re approaching bedtime.|
|The 2nd Law (Craving): Make It Attractive||Data-driven insights allow users to see and believe the connection between sleep and energy levels/performance. Users crave greater consciousness that results from rest.|
|The 3rd Law (Response): Make It Easy||Users learn which areas of sleep can be targeted for improvement: total sleep, efficiency, latency, deep sleep, etc.|
|The 4th law (Reward): Make It Satisfying||Gamified experience with sleek dashboard provides a net score out of 100 for your prior evening’s sleep performance.|
In short: Oura is a technology built for humans. It will help you build an essential habit of quality sleep.
As sleep plays a crucial role in decision making and overall health, Oura ranks high for Impact at 9.5/10.
When you place an order, you’ll first receive a sizing kit, allowing you to determine which finger you’ll use and the perfect size.
Oura doesn’t have retail stores yet, except one location in its founding country of Finland. While the current ordering process takes a bit long (two to four weeks from sizing to delivery), future retail stores will undoubtedly streamline this process.
Note: Oura’s research-grade sensors spend a couple of weeks calibrating your baselines. After the ramp-up, Oura provides even more tailored recommendations like an optimal bedtime schedule.
This section focuses on 1) maintaining the habit and 2) optimizing performance.
The first step is keeping the product functional—i.e., charging the battery. I’m impressed with Oura’s battery life and speed of charge. Charging takes 60-80 minutes (which I do periodically during my morning routine), and a fully charged ring typically lasts six to seven days.
While tracking total daily sleep is admirable, the next step is optimizing for greater levels of deep sleep.
One thing you’ll learn using Oura is that not all sleep is created equal. Realize that seven and a half hours of high-quality sleep (REM and deep) can be better than eight hours of light sleep. Optimize for deep sleep and reclaim hours in your day—without sacrificing energy levels.
Here are my top 10 tips for improving deep sleep:
- Avoid caffeine within four to six hours of bedtime.6
- Limit alcohol intake to avoid spillover into sleep.
- Avoid heavy meals before bedtime.
- Shut down technology at least an hour before sleep and limit blue light.
- Avoid taking naps too far past the midpoint of when you wake up and go to bed.
- Charge your phone outside the bedroom (see Phone Charger Challenge).
- Reduce stress via exercise and meditation.
- Limit light with blackout shades.
- Create a noise-canceling environment.
- Prioritize the quality of your mattress and pillow(s).
Oura Gen 3 comes in two price tiers. The silver and black models are $299, while stealth and gold are premium-priced at $399. Both levels require a $5.99 monthly subscription (new to Gen 3).
For aesthetics, Oura receives an 8/10. Why not higher? Despite Oura’s four- to six-gram weight being lighter than a conventional ring, I’ve found the band to be on the bulkier side.
What this means: during strength training exercises (like pull-ups and barbell movements), gripping can be cumbersome, and I often need to remove my ring. This is a minor grievance given the measuring power of Oura. The good news is that future editions will likely be slimmer thanks to technological advances (Moore’s Law).
Bringing it Home
Oura ranks at a lofty Superhuman Score of 9.25/10, led by its exceptional impact rating (value-adding potential to your life). Practical materialism at its finest.
And that’s a wrap for our system insight of the week! Now you can eat, breathe, AND sleep personal growth.
All systems go,
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- Energy Dashboard: Get an under-the-hood look at my self-tracking metrics for energy management (updated weekly)
- [Quick Win] Phone Charger Challenge: Save 60 hours every year with this simple morning hack
- The Millionaire Fastlane: Crack the Code to Wealth and Live Rich for a Lifetime by MJ DeMarco, p. 155.
- “Interactions Between Sleep Habits and Self-Control” by June J. Pilcher, Drew M. Morris, Janet Donnelly, and Hayley B. Feigl, Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.
- The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night at a Time by Arianna Huffington, p. 170.
- The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night at a Time by Arianna Huffington, p. 31.
- Atomic Habits by James Clear, p. 54.
- “Caffeine Effects on Sleep Taken 0, 3, or 6 Hours Before Going to Bed” by C. Drake, T. Roehrs, J. Shambroom, and T. J. Roth, Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, 2013.