June 2022, I offered up the blog post “You Can’t Beat a Good Sleep,” sharing the most important ways to support restful, restorative sleep. And why we care about sleep in the first place. I also shared that “I recently purchased an Oura Ring and have been using it for 3 weeks. I look forward to gathering data over the summer to support me in reverse-engineering good sleep. I’ll circle back with a post this fall on what I’ve learned.”
Autumn is here
And here we are. Fall 2022. I’ve just completed 7 weeks of group program joy with The Body Sass® Cleanse and 28toGreat. Over a dozen years into this work of helping people reclaim their health and wellbeing and…I’m still BLOWN AWAY at how our BodyMindSpirit responds to intentional care. One woman that did both programs emailed me toward the end of the 7 weeks:
“I was on a large zoom call for work and an older female employee of ours messaged me on the side and said, ‘I swear you look younger with every call. Come November when we are together, I want your secret!!’ I told her that I had started this health journey with you and she responded by saying she had noticed a change in me over the last several calls! That made my day. I feel better than I’ve felt in YEARS.”
This is not an unusual experience for my clients and program participants. This client/participant (she’s both) expressed herself so beautifully—and cited an unbiased observer who’d noticed the positive shifts in her face, weight, energy and vibe (on Zoom, nonetheless)—that her quote seemed to be the one to share today.
This client/participant isn’t someone who has loads of free time or a special genetic code to support this kind of shift. She’s a busy c-suite executive and the mother of 4 school-aged kids. What she DOES have? She came to me ready to commit to her health journey, to do the work involved and also sports a can-do attitude. Game. ON. And bra-VO to her.
Ready to say “game on” to your most precious asset (your health)? Give me a shout HERE.
So back to restorative sleep and my new health toy, the Oura ring. I’m 6 months into my education with this tool and there’s some things I’ve learned, and some things I’ve had reinforced.
This would be a long post indeed if I went into all the data that this ring provides, so you can learn more HERE. It gives SLEEP data, yes. And also ACTIVITY data including steps, calorie burn and when I’ve been sitting too long. I love the READINESS data that helps me understand how ready I am for my day, based on the sleep and activity data. Finally, I appreciate that they’ve included help with meditation and breathing and also provide sleep tracks (to help someone fall asleep) as well as a learning repository.
What follows is personal insights (for my unique BodyMindSpirit) that I relate to the research presented in the June sleep post. Plus some other things I’ve learned, thus far. This is not a paid pitch. The Oura people don’t know I exist. (As a lover of full transparency, I will always tell you if that is the case.)
For the record, I still stand by everything I shared in the June sleep post that I mentioned earlier. AND, I also love new data and new insights. If you do too, let’s explore!
Restorative sleep guidelines, reinforced
Holy moly. The idea that sugar, caffeine and alcohol can all disturb our sleep? TRUTH.
If I have sugar or alcohol after 5pm, I’m basically signing up for lousy sleep. My REM sleep, my deep sleep, my body temperature and my oxygenation level are all affected, to varying degrees.
THIS is how folks get stuck in the evening alcohol/daytime caffeine rollercoaster. We have a cocktail or two to unwind from our day and come down from our caffeine. Then we sleep lousy. So we get up and turn to caffeine to get us through our day. And on the cycle goes.
**I’ll be right back. My ring just reminded me that I haven’t moved my body in over an hour, and it’s lunch time.**
I’m back! My lunch was delish, nutrish and was a 7-minute prep. Re-heated chicken tenders that were originally cooked in egg, cornmeal and butter. And a bed of arugula with halved grape tomatoes and mozzarella with EVOO, balsamic, Celtic sea salt and fresh ground black pepper. Food is important to sleep. And everything else!
YUM. Back to sleep guidelines.
Caffeine. I only have caffeine once a week or less, and only because it happens to be in a chai tea that I love. Although I encourage folks to feel okay about having their beloved coffee, as long as it’s ingested before 2pm? Not for me! No matter when I drink it, my sleep is disturbed. Good to know. I still have the tea, but not the night before a big presentation.
I’ve also learned that meditation—which evolves us into more calm, happy and centered human beings (ie: brings us home to ourselves)—supports restorative sleep. Especially the quantity of deep sleep, which tends to decline with age.
And finally, as I wrote in that June post, intentional breaks support progress, success and health. On days that I “pushed through” and did way more than I knew was healthy, I slept fitfully, adding insult to injury.
There’s more, but these are the main reinforcements that I’ve received from the ring and its snazzy app. My favorite NEW insight?
My favorite new sleep insight
I was chillin with a friend and she noticed my Oura ring. She shared that her sister-in-law—we’ll call her Marge—despised her Oura ring because when she looked at her sleep data in the morning and it was subpar, it sent her into a tailspin. Which is a drag, for sure.
I had been on the fence about the Oura ring for some time. Then, in rapid succession, three health-focused and trusted friends shared with me that they’d gotten one and LOVED it. So, I made the plunge.
I believe that anyone that uses this ring needs to be in it for the long haul. What data can I gather over time? What might I be able to influence and what is out of my control? Can I remain aligned and thoughtful in the face of data that I don’t like? These are important questions.
And here’s what’s interesting. I’ve had the opposite experience of Marge. Meaning, I’ll have what feels like a subpar sleep—maybe lying awake from 2-4 AM thinking about silly things. When I get up, feeling all miffed about lost sleep, and I look at the sleep data that’s uploaded to my app, my sleep score is 89! (85 and above is “optimal”) I didn’t sleep long, but I slept well.
And sure enough, I feel good that day. Historically, I might have gone into my day with a “well, here goes for a low productivity, tired day.” I might have CREATED a feeling of fatigue. But the data helps me steer clear of an unsupportive mindset and into a great day.
This, combined with knowing what interferes with restorative sleep, has had a big impact on my health and wellbeing. Woohooo!
There are still some functionalities of the Oura ring that I haven’t tapped. There is a “tag” feature where I can create tags for workouts, health conditions or behaviors that I want to monitor. Once I build enough tags and use them, I can start looking for patterns and drawing sleep/health correlations by viewing my tags in the “Trends” feature. Cool stuff.
Some people say, “Well, as a user of Apple technology, why don’t you just get an Apple watch?” Many reasons.
As someone that takes frequent technology breaks, I don’t want to have to compromise my health tracking ability (taking off the watch) in order to get a break from notifications and feeling over-connected. Also, the Oura ring offers data that the Apple watch doesn’t. I’m a lot about SLEEP, as it’s a kingpin in our overall wellbeing. I also don’t love wearing things on my wrists but love chunky silver jewelry (the ring is chunky and comes in silver).
In the end, I think this is a solid and affordable wellness tool. As a data and research junkie, as a lover of helpful tools that can serve me and this community, and as a health-seeker? I’m a fan of this ring, and its ability to educate me on creating the habits and environment that support restorative sleep.
To your empowered wellbeing,