A message I had never seen before had popped up on my Oura ring app. Both my heart rate and temperature were elevated and it suggested that I go to “rest mode”. Doing so would have the Oura drop my “activity goal” for the day and just have me just rest.
I blinked. It’s actually happening, I thought. My partner had bought me an Oura ring when she learned it could be used as an early coronavirus detection device. (The Rockefeller Institute has found that it’s able to pick up signs of a coronavirus infection 2-3 days before symptoms, and the NBA used it as an early detection device.) Since I’m often away from Las Vegas, where my doctor and hospital facilities were, it was important that I know as early as possible to give me a chance to get back before my symptoms potentially became disabling.
I hadn’t had any symptoms at that point. However, Oura had told me that prior to this, I’d really been pushing for two and 3 days, that my “readiness scores” – a combination of lowest overnight resting heart rate, deviation from my average overnight body temperature, physical activity, and metrics such as HRV (heart rate variability), sleep and activity balance – had dropped enough (58,61) that Oura had dramatically lowered its activity goal for me. Still, I’d blasted through Oura’s activity goals those days – doing double and three times what the ring suggested was healthy.
Now it was telling that something had really gone awry. Had I, despite all my precautions – wearing a face shield, two masks, and going to stores early and very infrequently, somehow caught the coronavirus?
Later that day, a hint of a headache occurred. My partner pushed for me to immediately drive the two hours to Vegas. I was tired and pushed back, but listened to reason, and by that afternoon I loaded everything into the van, and back to the Vegas area I went. We camped near a friend with ME/CFS who offered to help out if things went south.
The next day the headache, fatigue and fluey feelings hit. The headache was excruciating – particularly at night – and left the top of my scalp feeling painful to the touch. For two days, my readiness scores dropped to new lows (44,47) and started to pick up.
From then on, the Oura ring consistently tracked my increased temperature at night – warning me to remain in rest mode for the next two weeks or so as I recovered from the cold.
I never sent the Oura ring into “rest mode” and continued to track what it considered my “activity goal” should be. So long as my nighttime temperature was increased, the Oura ring dropped my activity goal dramatically. I never had a fever.
My heart rate recovered more quickly than my nighttime temperature. Oura clearly gave it a lot of weight. So long as it was above around 0.7 degrees above normal, the Oura ring advised that I remain in rest mode. The nighttime temperature reading became my lodestar. Every morning I would check it as I woke up, and it remained raised for about two weeks – even into the time when I started feeling quite a bit better. I credit it with helping me to get the rest I needed to get better.
The Oura ring is not perfect. It does track when I overdo it pretty well – it’s easy to see my HRV going down and HR (heart rate) going up when that happens. Because the Oura ring bases readiness scores on 14-day weighted averages, it provides individualized recommendations. Even at her best, for instance, it never recommends my partner, with her more severe ME/CFS, do as much activity as it does me. It can see that mild exertions that wouldn’t bother me are able to knock her off.
It also provides some nice recommendations – like suggesting earlier bedtimes when I’ve overdone or haven’t been sleeping well. Once it asked if I’d had a large meal before bedtime. That was a little freaky because it turned out that I’d eaten a huge meal before bed and had slept poorly. You can also monitor an activity like a meditation break to see how it affects your heart rate variability. That’s something I have not taken advantage of but should as my average HRV (19) is well below average for my age. Oura also occasionally provides tips via email.
It doesn’t seem to know whether I am in pain or not. I can wake up in considerable pain or feeling exhausted, only for it to tell me that my readiness is optimal! It also overdoes it on recommended activity levels. My partner finds that cutting Oura’s recommendations in half works for her. Sometimes the sleep stats seem right on and sometimes they don’t.
The ring worked great, though, when the virus – whatever virus it was – hit. It warned me a full day before I started having really disturbing symptoms. That enabled me to get to Vegas before things got bad. Most importantly, it was very effective in helping me to rest. I need a little push in that area and seeing that elevated temperature day after day was a great reminder that I was not back yet.
I think back to two years ago, when in the midst of a mild cold, I decided to do some work on the van. It took more effort than I’d imagined and I came back feeling pretty good. The next day, though, the cold had taken on new life and now was embedded deep into my muscles. Two years later, some of that muscle pain persists. I imagine if I’d had that Oura ring then, things might be different today.
The ring has also enabled me to relax a bit more. A couple of days ago, I had a scratchy throat and a little cough. Could I actually have caught the coronavirus right after I came down with that cold? The next morning the Oura ring suggested no – my temperature and heart rate were fine and the cough was gone.
The virus that made me ill will remain a mystery. I now think it was probably a nasty cold virus – perhaps a rhinovirus. Rhinoviruses are more contagious than the coronavirus, and more difficult to remove than the coronavirus, but are not as deadly. If a highly contagious rhinovirus became deadly, though, that would be really be something.
Whatever happens, having the Oura ring around will help.
(Health Rising is not affiliated with Oura in any way We get our funding from you :))
On a similar note check out how Hannah used similar tools to learn how to pace and improve her health.
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