As is well known, founders like to track everything down to the smallest detail: their number of users, their conversions, how much time they need for what task, the performance of their employees, their own performance. So why not your sleep too?
Twitter founder Jack Dorsey says he goes to bed at nine or ten at night and gets up at five in the morning. He knows it not only by looking at his watch, but also by his Oura ring. The sleep tracker from the Finnish startup of the same name is hugely popular with entrepreneurs like Dorsey. Northzone investor Sarah Nöckel is an avowed handheld user, as is Salesforce boss Marc Benioff. Even Prince Harry is often photographed wearing the ring.
I’m a long way from the dream beat of the Twitter CEO. I usually never make it to bed before midnight, then roll over to sleep. It is difficult for me to get up in the morning, and the Corona-related head office has not made it any easier. Perhaps the Oura ring (starting price: a whopping 314 euros) can help me look a little more like Jack Dorsey.
The billion dollar business with the dream
The ordering procedure is cumbersome: first, I get a test kit with plastic rings of different sizes. I have to wear them for at least 24 hours to find the right size. Because my fingers can swell at night, I’m learning.
When the real ring I was given to try on finally arrives, the first reaction of those around me is, “It looks like a part that fell in the washing machine.” to go somewhere There are also sensors built into the wearable device.
I know how important a good night’s sleep is to staying physically and mentally fit, at least since the “Why We Sleep” hype. If you ask the founders about their favorite books, the probability that this book is among them is relatively high. The author of this bestselling book is neuroscientist Matt Walker, who is also the chief scientist for the company behind the Oura Ring.
An industry worth billions has sprung from the hype surrounding sleep, from CBD oil and meditation apps to extra-heavy duvets that are said to help with anxious feelings and trouble sleeping. To fall asleep. According to an assessment, the annual sales of sleep aids worldwide should be up to 102 billion US dollars. Oura benefits from this, too: By its own admission, the startup has sold around a million rings since it was founded and raised almost US$150 million in venture capital. One of the most prominent testimonials of him, Twitter boss Jack Dorsey, is also involved with his investment company.
The ring takes a few days to calibrate. After the first night, he excitedly warns me, “You were up later than usual yesterday.” After the first two weeks, I can use the app to see my optimal bedtime (between 11:30 and 12:30). I learn how long it took me to fall asleep (less than five minutes is a sign of excessive fatigue) and how long I was in which stage of sleep (light sleep, stage sleep, or deep sleep).
For this evaluation, Oura tracks my movements and measures my resting heart rate and temperature. The ring is incredibly accurate: when I drank too much wine one night, my resting heart rate spiked and the app alerted me. But he probably would have recognized the cat that way. The ring also warned me once because I had a high temperature, I had previously been in the sauna.
Ring for early corona detection?
The temperature measurement function could now even give the company a new use case: According to initial studies, the ring could detect an infection with the corona virus at an early stage. The temperature measurement should cause the sensors to drift even before regular quick tests do. Two years ago, this feature led some companies to equip their employees with the rings. The American basketball league NBA also obtained the trackers for its players. An opportunity for Oura to delve into the business of corporate clients. The company declined to provide any information on the proportion of sales now represented by B2B sales.
I get used to wearing the ring all the time relatively quickly: during sports, in the shower, while sleeping. It doesn’t seem as clumsy and heavy as it did at first. Unlike an Applewatch, for example, it has to be charged relatively rarely, only every five days for me.
A problem you didn’t have before
How did I really sleep? I promptly answer this question as soon as I wake up looking at my own app. Instead of my own feelings, the ring now decides. For one thing, it can sometimes be comforting to see that what seemed like two hours of being up at night was actually only a quarter of an hour. On the other hand, after a bad night, I can see in black and white how badly I slept.
It’s a similar story for Philipp Klöckner, an investor and co-host of the “Doppelganger Tech Talk” podcast, who also uses Oura. In the Berlin startup scene, he is often asked about the ring, he says he, which usually makes him uncomfortable. He doesn’t want to be a “health junkie or life extender” like many other Oura users in the tech industry. He bought the ring mainly out of curiosity, he tells me, “I sleep five to six hours a night and I wanted to see how restful my sleep is.” Thanks to Oura, he now knows that his deep sleep phases are too short and his resting heart rate is relatively high. “So now I have a problem that I didn’t have before.”
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Despite the supposed deep sleep deficit, he feels well-rested, he says. That’s why he hasn’t changed anything in his sleep routine so far. He alone at first he followed the advice of the ring and went to bed at 10 o’clock at night. As a result, he woke up at three in the morning. “It didn’t make me feel more relaxed.”
I haven’t changed anything in my sleeping pattern yet. I’m further from Jack Dorsey’s bedtime and wake-up time than ever. Still, I am pleasantly surprised by the features and accuracy of the ring. It might be the first tracking tool I use.
This post first appeared in June 2021.