One of my best friends and I have a really nice texting thread where we talk constantly about the likes and dislikes of a person that we both have in our lives. “Someone” isn’t really the right word. But “something” isn’t either. It’s Oura, the smart ring and its accompanying app, that provide us with daily and quarterly insights into our health and behavior—and with near-personal impact dominate our lives.
We said Oura “love it” when one of us took a nap. But Oura got mad when we had more than one drink in an evening. All of this is reflected in the various scores we receive for “Ready” (or how well rested we are and a number of other factors related to heart rate) and sleep.
And this little device has really affected the way both of us live. I started going to bed earlier when I noticed that doing so improved my sleep score (something the Well+Good trade editor also experienced). My friend cut back on alcohol because she saw how bad it was for her readiness.
She is not alone.
“The number one insight we hear is the impact of alcohol,” Oura Product Manager and Women’s Health Lead Caroline Kryder told Taylor Camille, Well+Good podcast director in the episode. Well+Good podcast this week. “For many people, what [the app insights] give them this new kind of discovery maybe the glass of wine they’re drinking, yes, it helps them fall asleep, but the quality of their sleep is completely different. And it was one of the big sleep experiments that we heard people go through that changed their behavior.”
There are many Reddit threads in the r/Oura subreddit where users discuss seeing the impact of alcohol on their scores and adjusting their behavior in response. What’s going on here, physiologically? An analysis by Oura of member data found that when people tag alcohol (tagging is how you track specific behavior that can affect your life, like drinking or meditating), they sleep less, it’s the quietest part of your night time zzz. The analysis also highlights an increase in average heart rate during that night of sleep, which indicates the body is experiencing stress.
Even if someone doesn’t tag drinking, Kryder says Oura sometimes helps people connect the dots.
“A lot of people get the ring, they feel good, and then they have a night out on a social occasion, and the next day they get beaten up,” says Kryder. “Their readiness scores drop, their sleep scores drop. They’re looking at their phones, what did I do last night? Then they get a reminder from us that there are certain things that can raise your heart rate and make a difference to your sleep, like eating late or drinking.” And it clicks.
For some people, that is. While Oura has influenced my weeknight bedtime routine, I don’t really think about my grades when deciding whether or not to drink. What really guides me is how I want to feel that night, the next day, and how full, tired, or happy I feel in the present moment.
Changing behavior around alcohol is just one of the topics that Kryder and Oura’s leading clinical research scientist, Dr. Neta Gotlieb, discusses during the episode. From reproductive health to rest and recovery, how can wearable devices—especially a discreet device like the Oura ring—change our understanding of our health? Listen below to learn more.
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