Oura Ring Review: As Accurate As Sleep Studies?

Oura Ring Review: As Accurate As Sleep Studies?


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The Oura ring is a biometric device that tracks sleep quality and other health data such as heart rate variability. The company describes its device as "the industry leading sleep tracker" and claims that 86% of members experience an improvement in sleep quality.

But is Oura ring actually proven to work in medical studies or are these just marketing claims? How accurate is the device? How does it compare to other biometric devices like Apple Watch? And how do real users rate and describe the benefits (or downsides) of using the Oura ring?

In this article we'll answer all of these questions and more as we review clinical trials on Oura ring to determine if the device is proven to work, how accurate it is and how its accuracy compares to other wearable sleep trackers.

We'll also feature real, unsponsored Oura ring user reviews and give our take on whether sleep tracking devices can actually increase insomnia.

Is Oura Ring Proven to Work?

The Oura ring has been studied in legitimate clinical trials published in peer-reviewed medical journals, which is the highest standard for product research.

A clinical trial published in the Behavioral Sleep Medicine journal compared the effectiveness of the Oura ring against polysomnography, which is the medical standard for diagnosing sleep disorders. When most patients undergo a “sleep study,” the doctors are using polysomnography to measure sleep quality.

This was a well-designed study in our opinion, and the Oura ring performed decently: the Oura ring was 96% accurate in detecting sleep compared to polysomnography, 48% accurate in detecting wakefulness, 65% agreement in detecting “light sleep,” 51% agreement in detecting “deep sleep” and 61% agreement in detecting REM sleep.

One interesting finding from the study was that Oura ring data discrepancies were greater when the device was worn on the ring finger, so users may want to consider wearing it on other fingers.

A 2021 medical review on Oura ring reported improved accuracy in the brand's newer devices.

Researchers in this review proved that by combining various sets of biometric data from Oura ring, sleep parameters can be tracked more accurately. For example, accuracy of detecting REM sleep was 90.87% when combining accelerometer, temperature, heart rate variability and circadian features data. This is a significant improvement on the 61% agreement in detecting REM sleep from the study previously cited.

A comparative study published in the Sensors journal analyzed the accuracy of six commercial biometric devices: Oura ring, Apple Watch, Garmin Forerunner, Polar Vantage, WHOOP and Somfit.

The Oura ring and Garmin devices slightly outperformed the other wearables in accuracy of sleep tracking. The WHOOP was superior to the Oura ring when it came to tracking heart rate.

Overall we consider Oura ring to be likely effective for accurate sleep tracking and would recommend the device to consumers seeking an at-home wearable sleep tracking device. It seems to be the most accurate brand on the market in this category.

But how do real users rate and describe the benefits they experienced from the device? We'll review in the next section.

Real, Unsponsored Oura Ring User Reviews

A YouTube creator named "The Quantified Scientist" has an in-depth review of Oura Ring 3 that shows how the device is set up, analyzes its accuracy in real-world settings and shares some potential downsides:

A YouTube creator named "Kevin the Tech Ninja" compares the Apple Watch to the Oura ring:

Are Sleep Trackers Really Necessary?

We haven't come across any convincing medical research suggesting that at-home sleep tracking through biometric devices like Oura ring improves health.

There are certainly hypothetical instances where Oura ring could help improve a consumer's health. Perhaps the user notices trends by tracking data with Oura, like that their sleep quality is lower when they eat before bed, and then they make changes based on those trends to improve their health (in this case increasing the time between the last meal and sleep).

But until wearable tech becomes equal to the accuracy of legitimate medical testing, we're unsure of the purpose of this type of device.

If an individual thinks they have a sleep disorder like sleep apnea, they should speak with their doctor about getting a sleep study done, because this is the most accurate way to diagnose sleep disorders and is typically subsidized by health insurance.

Oura ring may be fun to play around with for "biohackers" and it may be interesting for some consumers to see data on their sleep habits, but we wouldn't recommend using Oura ring to diagnose or treat any health condition.

Using sleep tracking apps can also have the opposite intended effect and cause anxiety and insomnia in some people according to UW Medicine:

Real Customers Review Oura Ring

Since Oura ring is only sold on the brand's website and not on Amazon, we believe the best place to search for honest customer reviews is the Better Business Bureau (BBB) page on Oura Ring.

The brand has a rating of 1 out of 5 stars, which is the lowest possible rating, after 47 reviews and 143 customer complaints. Many customers go to the BBB website to complain about a brand so this data in and of itself isn't particularly alamaring.

Many customers are complaining about the device failing after a few months or years of use, like this complaint from a user named "Zoe G":

"My ring needs to be charged every 36 hours now after just 15 months of using it (charing properly, as instructed). Messaged customer service and am being told that my ring was only covered for one year and have to buy a new one (gave me $75 discount but that is still $225). So upset that this device really only works for a little over a year"

To the credit of Oura, the brand responds to nearly every customer complaint trying to resolve the situation which is the sign of a high-quality brand. 

Since many customers are complaining about poor customer service, it may be advisable to complain on the BBB website if you face an issue with Oura ring, because it may lead to an expedited response and resolution.

Is Oura Ring Good for Fitness Tracking?

Oura ring is typically used for sleep tracking, but it also has fitness tracking functionalities. A YouTube creator named Keltie O'Connor used Oura ring for fitness tracking over the course of two years, and shared her thoughts in a video with over 110,000 views:

Our Clean Sleep Picks

There are sleep products with ingredients and materials clinically shown to improve sleep quality.

Sleep Mode from Bulletproof is our top value sleep supplement.

It contains melatonin which is arguably the most well-studied sleep inducer, along with l-ornithine which is an amino acid that's clinically shown to reduce cortisol and improve sleep quality at the same dose as in Sleep Mode.

Beam Dream Capsules is our top premium sleep supplement.

These multi-action capsules provide melatonin, magnesium, THC-free hemp and Reishi mushroom which is clinically described as possessing an "anti-insomnia mechanism."

Nolah Weighted Bamboo Blanket is a great option for consumers who prefer non-supplement solutions for sleep. Weighted blankets are clinically shown to improve sleep quality in both older adults and in children, and early research suggests they may also reduce anxiety.

All of the products recommended in this section are entirely free of ingredients or materials that we consider to be unhealthy or unsafe.

Pros and Cons of Oura Ring

Here are the pros and cons of Oura ring as a brand in our opinion:

Pros:

  • Strong clinical backing
  • Most accurate sleep tracking wearable device
  • Non-intrusive

Cons:

  • Unclear value proposition
  • Less accurate than medical sleep studies
  • Less accurate heart rate data than competitor
  • Limited functionality without monthly subscription
  • Expensive
  • May cause anxiety in some individuals
Stay up-to-date on our research reviews

Conclusion

The Oura ring is backed by high-quality clinical research suggesting it can accurately report sleep quality metrics. It appears to be the most accurate consumer wearable sleep tracker on the market.

Oura is not currently as accurate as a standard medical sleep study, but we believe it can be as the technology improves, at which point this device would be tremendously useful.

For now, it's hard for us to see the value that justifies the high price of this product. While it may be fun to play around with the data and it certainly isn't likely to cause any harm, it's unclear to us why someone would pay hundreds plus a subscription fee for this device if their goal is to use it to improve health.

Any individual who believes they may have a sleep disorder should speak with their doctor about getting a sleep study done.

In people prone to anxiety, obsessively tracking sleep quality may actually increase insomnia, so that's something to watch out for.