Matthew Walker, PhD, is one of the leading sleep scientists in the world and currently a professor at UC Berkeley. He is the author of the book “Why We Sleep” published in 2017, and has written hundreds of papers, spoken at many professional meetings, and made several TED Talks and podcasts…all to get the word out that the right sleep is critical to our health and longevity. In fact, when asked what are the three most important ingredients for a long and healthy life, such as diet, exercise, etc., he usually responds “sleep, sleep and sleep”.
Many people “feel” that their sleep is okay…after all, if they are able to get up reasonably well in the morning, finish their day, and accomplish a few tasks after dinner, what could possibly be wrong? However, what we find when we study people’s actual time in deep sleep, time in dream sleep, and overall sleep quantity, is that as a society we are desperately “sleep deprived” and not optimized whatsoever for the best brain or cognitive outcomes over our lifespan.
Change begins with information. The wearable world has gotten very crowded recently. There are smart watches, wearable headbands, and mattresses that monitor our motion at night and report back! But the highest quality sleep data and most comprehensive profile on a consistent basis is obtained from the OURA ring. The OURA ring correlates well with sleep lab polysomnography to a very high degree, and has been published in several medical papers, one is cited below*. The OURA ring has also been used in a San Francisco area study to track temperatures in order to pick up COVID infections prior to symptoms. Many professional athletes use their AM “readiness” scores to plan their work-out schedule (the ring giving a very low score might prompt an active recovery day of stretching and walking). If you learn that your sleep depth and amounts are non-optimal, this is extremely helpful information and the ability to make changes and track results is invaluable. What happens if you eat dinner earlier? What happens if you give yourself an extra recovery day, or have a glass of wine? Knowing what improves your sleep and what deteriorates your sleep is like having the key to your own physiological kingdom. The app that works with the OURA has no fee or membership, so this is a one-time investment in your future brain. (I have no relationship with this Finnish company).