Oura ring review cover image of Kim showing it off on her middle finger

No Ring-ing Endorsement

Here’s the short version of my Oura ring review:

It’s not great, but it’s good enough.

I forked out a few hundred bucks for it because I hoped it would help me improve my sleep. Five months later and, despite putting serious thought and effort into sleeping better, these are the discouraging results:

No improvement.

So yeah, I’ve been wearing an annoying ring on my finger (I hate jewelery) for five months and have seemingly nothing to show for it. 

But I’m still wearing the damn thing.

Why?

Because the pros of the new Oura ring, though smaller than I’d hoped, still outweigh the cons. In this Oura ring review, I’ll explain why.

Oura Ring Review Outline
Close up of Oura ring
Don’t judge an Oura ring by its cover. It’s got a lotta goodies inside.

What Is the Oura Ring

The Basics

The new Oura ring is a regular-sized (maybe a bit thicker than most) ring you can get in one of three colors (or with a diamond on it if you absolutely love burning cash for inane reasons).

Inside the ring are a bunch of fancy sensors that collect biometric data. The ring periodically sends this data to your phone, which relays it over to the cloud to make various calculations related to your sleep, activity, and readiness.

What Oura Measures

  • Blood pulse volume in your finger, from which it calculates your respiratory rate, heart rate, and heart rate variability
  • Body temperature
  • Movement of the hand that’s wearing the ring
  • Time of day

What It Infers From Those Measurements

  • Sleep quality: Calculated based on what time you’re lying in bed, for how long, how much you move around in bed, and how your breathing, temperature, and heart rate measurements vary during that time. It also attempts to break that sleep into the different stages: light, REM, and deep sleep.
  • Activity: Calculated based on periodic (not continuous) monitoring of your heart rate and how much you move your hand.
  • Readiness:Calculated based on trends in your resting heart rate, HRV, respiratory rate, and body temperature.

What’s on the App

Why Sleep Is so Freaking Important

Before continuing with my Oura ring review, I want to emphasize why sleep is so important.

Actually, I’ll let this guy do it for me:

Matthew Walker, author of Why We Sleep
Matt Walker is the sleep diplomat. Look at all those fancy calculations on the blackboard. He must be smart!

That’s Dr. Matt Walker. He’s a sleep scientist who wrote a book, Why We Sleep, that scared the crap into making me want to sleep like a baby.

Here’s Dr. Walker on why sleep is so important:

“It enhances your memory and makes you more creative. It makes you look more attractive. It keeps you slim and lowers food cravings. It protects you from cancer and dementia. It wards off colds and the flu. It lowers your risk of heart attacks and stroke, not to mention diabetes. You’ll even feel happier, less depressed, and less anxious.”

But, because we people are dumbasses, instead of simply sleeping more and better to get these benefits we pay thousands of dollars for doctors, supplements, and doodads to “hack” the system.

Read Dr. Walker’s book or, at the very least, listen to his interview on the Joe Rogan podcast, and you’ll be convinced how important sleep really is.

Now back to the Oura ring review. 


The Pros of the Oura Ring

Awareness

Before I got my Oura ring, I thought I was a good sleeper. I’d fall asleep immediately, stay asleep through the night, then wake up about 7-8 hours later.

I thought wrong.

The Oura ring made me aware that I had a big problem. I was missing out on brain-cleaning, info-processing, growth-hormone-inducing deep sleep.

Unfortunately, as I’ll explain in the Cons below, the ring hasn’t helped me solve this problem but, as they say, “Awareness is the first step towards change.”

The Oura Ring has made me aware of my deep sleep defecit.

Low Maintenance

I only have to charge my Oura ring once a week or so and I can go weeks without having to sync it with my phone.

Close up of the new Oura ring 2 on my finger
Even though I treat my ring like crap, it only has a few faint scuff marks.

Durable

My Oura ring has held up admirably to all the punishment I put it through, including rock workouts, calisthenic training, and general negligence.

The poor treatment I’ve given my ring has earned it a few superficial scuffs and scratches, but that just gives the ring character.

It Blows Phone Sleep Tracking Apps Out of the Water

For over seven years before I got my new Oura ring, I relied on my phone’s Sleep Cycle app to measure my sleep. Even after I got my ring, I continued to use it for its alarm. This allowed me to compare the sleep scores between the two.

Here’s the comparison:

If the Sleep Cycle app were any good, the dots on this chart would roughly follow a diagonal, upwards-sloped line. They don’t. That means the Sleep Cycle app was pretty much useless for sleep tracking.

It’s Improving

The Oura ring is smart enough to know I’m not sleeping when I lie awake in bed but it’s not smart enough to know whether I’m awake because I’m reading or because I’m unable to fall asleep. It assumes the latter by default, which penalizes my sleep score when I read in bed. This inaccuracy annoyed and frustrated me.

So they fixed it.

It’s not the most glamorous fix—now I can manually adjust my sleep to report the time I was reading—but it’s a lot better than before.

There have been a couple similar improvements, and I am confident there will be more to come. (Hopefully to the activity tracking in particular.)

Long-Term Heath Tracking

The Oura ring keeps me very aware of trends in my key health markers, like HRV and resting heart rate. This in turn motivates me to stay healthy.

For my first four months with the Oura ring, I was encouraged and motivated by my steadily decreasing resting heart rate and increasing average HRV. These were signs my exercise and diet choices were paying off.

But then on my fifth month, Kim and I went on a hectic road trip in South Africa. For two weeks, we exercised less, ate worse, and drank more than normal and my gains completely vanished (… but at least my sleep improved!).

Now that our trip’s over and life has stabilized, and thanks to the continuous long-term health trends the Oura ring provides me, I’m more motivated than ever to turn things back around.

Little Dopamine Hits

Every morning I eagerly check my sleep score from the night before to see how I did—specifically focusing on my deep sleep and whether my heart rate graph was in the desired U-shape.

The feeling of anticipation I get from doing so is similar to the one I get when I open Instagram to see if I got any new likes, follows, or comments—just a heck of a lot healthier (I think…).

Home screen of the Oura Ring's app
Every morning I’m eager to see how my sleep and heart rate were the night before.

It’s a Ring

I much rather wear a ring than a tight bracelet or a watch, especially one as inconspicuous as the Oura.


Cons of the Oura Ring

✗ Lots of Data, Little Results

The Oura has all the data necessary to be able to give me helpful, actionable tips. For example, it could do a simple regression to see how much my inactivity affects my sleep and advise me accordingly. But it doesn’t.

Aside from telling me whether or not my heart rate and sleep quality from the night before indicates I should “Up the activity” or “Take it easy”, it doesn’t do anything to help me figure out how to improve my sleep.

I’ve had to take matters into my own hands, do my own analyses, and even maintain my own spreadsheet (in which I take note of stuff like eating time, food quantity, alcohol and caffeine consumption) to try to crack the code to better sleep.

I wish I didn’t have to and that the Oura ring would make easier.

This screenshot from the Oura Cloud desktop portal shows how my Oura ring captures so much data it makes my head hurt… but also that this data doesn’t make it easier to figure out how to sleep better. 

✗ Useless for Activity Tracking

The Oura ring only tracks activity through its built-in accelerometer, so I get barely any credit for weight training and stationary exercise like yoga. It also doesn’t properly track the high-intensity interval training I do because it only takes periodic heart-rate measurements during the day.

The activity tracking is so useless that I’ve considered not wearing the ring at all during the day. The only thing that stops me is I’m worried I’ll forget to put it on at night.

On this day I did a 20 minute high-intensity workout, but my Oura ring only captured 10 minutes of it because it only periodically measures my activity during the day.

✗ It Punishes Me For Reading in Bed

 When I read in bed, the ring defaults to assuming I’m having a hard time falling asleep and gives me low latency and sleep efficiency scores, two of the seven measures that make up the overall sleep score. As I wrote in the Pros, at least now I can manually adjust it, but I’d prefer not to have to do so.

✗ Untapped Potential

The Oura ring sells itself short by only working during sleep time.

I’d get way more out of it if I could put all its powers to use during specific occasions during the day—like when meditating, napping, doing exercise, and taking saunas and cold baths.

✗ It’s Slow

I was hoping the Oura Ring would immediately help me identify things I’ve been doing wrong and help me fix them so I could sleep like a baby and become superhuman.

It didn’t. It takes weeks, even months, until you can start to spot useful trends.

Clearly this isn’t anything the Oura team can do anything about this, but it is something you should keep in mind before you buy one for yourself in order to have the right expectations.

✗ It Costs $299

The $299 price is for the silver one (like I have) or the black.

It’s $399 if you choose the “stealth,” and $999 if you want a diamond on it. 

✗ Slow Delivery

In my case, I pre-ordered back in December 2017, so I expected to wait a while for my ring. And did I ever wait. It took 7 months.

Unfortunately, according to online reports they’re still slow to deliver. For instance, Bel shared in the comments below that she ordered in September 2018 and is still waiting as of January 2019.

✗ It’s a Ring

I’d much, much prefer not to have to wear anything at all and I can’t wear it if I’m playing basketball or lifting heavy barbells. 

Also, people now ask me if I’m married.


Oura Ring vs Motiv Ring

The Motiv Ring is the main competitor to the Oura. 

The Motiv ring doesn’t look much different from the Oura 2.

On the outside they look about the same, but functionally they’re not. Here are the biggest differences:

Motiv Ring Advantages

  • It’s $100 cheaper ($199 vs $299)
  • Better activity tracking: When you work out, it tracks your activity more continuously than the Oura Ring. 

Oura Ring Advantages

  • Way better sleep tracking. Oura specializes in tracking your sleep by tracking sleep phases (deep, REM, light). The Motiv only tracks “restful” and “restless.” 
  • Longer battery life (6-7 days for Oura vs 3 days for Motiv)
  • More measures. It measures HRV, body temperature, and respiratory rate. The Motiv doesn’t.

Oura vs Motiv Conclusion

Oura wins!

Even if the Motiv ring only costed $20 instead of $200, I’d still get the Oura ring because it’s far and away the better tool for tracking my sleep, which is priority number one for me. 

Oura ring while sleeping
Maybe it’s not the Oura ring’s fault and I should sleep in a darker room…

Final Verdict on the Oura Ring

I determine whether something I own was a good buy or not by asking myself one question:

If I lose it, will I immediately buy another of the exact same or would I shop around for something else? 

My answer to this question for the Oura ring is…

Yes.

I’d immediately buy another one if I lost mine.

Even though my Oura ring hasn’t fully lived up to my expectations, it has made me more focused on and conscious of my sleep quality. Even though my average sleep score hasn’t improved in the months I’ve had it, A) there’s a chance my sleep would’ve got worse if not for the Oura ring and B) I’m optimistic that I’m getting closer to finding the perfect sleep routine with its help.

Compared to the benefits, the cost is minimal anyway. Just like how it’s worth spending more on a good mattress, the same applies for the Oura ring sleep tracker.

Recommendation

If you’re looking for a magic pill, don’t bother getting an Oura ring. The data might entertain you for a while, but if you do nothing about it you’ll soon get bored, ditch it, and be no better off.

But if you’re willing to be proactive about improving your health—meaning you’re willing to put some conscious effort into figuring out and fixing what’s hurting your sleep—the Oura ring is a must.

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12 comments

  1. When was this blog posted? I can’t seem to find anywhere on this page, in fact I can’t find a timeline for any of your blogs

    1. Hey Luke Flex. If that’s your real name, that’s quite the name! If not, good alias. I always get name envy because of my difficult last name.

      We published this on… lemme see… you’re right the date’s nowhere on the page… Dec 20. Ten days ago. Do you think we should figure out how to add the dates to each post?

      1. Bahahaha, yes Flex is my given last name.

        Yeah I think you should! By giving the published date for your blogs, it will allow your readers to know it’s relativity.

  2. i just returned my oura ring today. it was just too buggy. half the time it didn’t connect to the app and i tried all the things CS suggested. i know they are still working things out but it was the last day in my return window and i was beginning to think i might have gotten a defect. figured this is the version 2 ring so shouldn’t the connectivity be perfected?? contrast that to the motiv ring which i used prior and it always connected without issue and gave up to the minute bio stats, however the oura does provide better sleep data as you stated.
    maybe i’ll revisit the ring again at a later time when they fix the issue. i really wanted it to work since it did provide a lot of bio data for wearing such a small device.

    1. Thanks for the perspective, Justin. That’s too bad you had connectivity issues. What type of phone do you have? I haven’t had the slightest issue with connectivity with my iPhone and neither has anyone I know who has the ring, so either you got unlucky to be stuck with a lemon or maybe it’s because of the phone you have? Either way, hopefully they fix the issue soon.

  3. I find it interesting that most of the reviews of this ring are fitness, health orientated. I thought I’d see a lot more people like me who suffer from sleep issues looking into this tech. On that note, do you think this would be a good starting place for someone who wants to figure out ways to improve their sleep. Does the data show enough of a trend to start to be able to make suggestions, or maybe at least the user could get some insights that might help.

    Also, I’ve looked around for a user manual, I often like to read through the manual before I make a purchase but I haven’t been able to find one online. Only other question I can think of is how good is the company when dealing with the warranty, I wonder just how long before the battery no longer holds charges, etc.

    1. Hey James. Interesting point you bring up on the ring being most popular with the fitness crowd. I agree. Maybe it’s because there are so many more fitness fanatics out there who are very active online?

      The ring and the app won’t make any helpful suggestions to improve your sleep, but if you’re proactive about analyzing the data yourself it can certainly help. It’s worth mentioning there is a note function you can use to keep track of different variables you tinker with to improve your sleep, too. I kept a separate spreadsheet, though, for calculations.

      As for the user manual, maybe it’s a Scandinavian thing, but the manual you get with the ring is pretty minimalist a la Ikea. Whatever info is available is online on their website / blog. And on the warranty, can’t help you there. It’s a new product and company so only time will tell I suppose.

      Hopefully that helps. If you do get the ring and make any major strides with it (or the opposite), I’d love to hear about it.

  4. I have been really interested in improving my slow wave sleep as well. I’m waiting for acoustic stimulation to be available as it has been shown to enhance SWS. Apparently, this company will have it available some time this year and it will work with the Oura ring: https://sonicsleepcoach.com/deep-sleep-stimulation/ I don’t have any affiliation with Sonic Sleep and I have no idea whether their system will be any good. I think there should be others available soon as well that utilize acoustic stimulation.

    I bought the Oura ring but I haven’t used it yet as it won’t work with my iPhone 5c as Apple no longer supports it. Time for a new iPhone anyway, I guess.

    1. That’s annoying that it doesn’t work with the iPhone 5c. I’m starting to have similar problems with different apps (not Oura) with my 6s too.

      I hadn’t heard of accoustic stimulation, so thanks for sharing that Kathy. I’ll give it a look, though generally I prefer to try to find the causes of the problem and fix those as opposed to getting some fancy tech-y solution. I’m giving ear plugs and an eye mask a try now, and plan on getting some blue light blocking glasses from Kim’s brother who sells them to see if they help too.

      All the best with your ring. Hopefully it helps you get some of that elusive SWS, and if so please share how you did it!

  5. Takes a damn long time to get it. I’m still waiting from end of September and they aren’t very good about updating their site with a status. I’m not a watch wearer which is why I wanted the ring. Now, I trying to decide whether to continue to wait. Conundrum.

    1. Murphy’s Law says that if you give up on waiting, you’ll probably get an email the next day saying the ring is ready just after you cancel order!

      Since it’s been 4 months already, I’d recommend waiting. Mine took 7 months, but that was as a pre-launch order, so there should be now way you’ll have to wait THAT long. Hopefully you get yours soon.

      The wait is a pain in the butt for sure, so I’ve added it to the Cons section. Thanks for sharing, Bel!

  6. I just returned the rose gold ring because of durability (or lack thereof). Too many scratches, which do not add “character” to this $499 device. Scratched it when opening doors, which tells me Oura should stick to the basic ring without the overlays. Great data though. I loved that. Will look into other products.

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