My Oura Ring Died

This morning I woke up late. Which is great, because I’d been sleeping like shit for the past year. Between COVID-19 response and studying, I barely had the time to wind down properly, something that came back to me in short burst-y sleep cycles and frequent naps between shifts. During our finals last year I worked nights, took the test (online), slept for three hours, went back to work, and studied in between. Not by choice, by necessity, as staff in our ward began dropping out with the same burnout I was and am experiencing.

Through all this, and I am loath to admit it, my Oura Ring somewhat helped. No, the “take it easy” prompts weren’t that useful, but tracking a week-to-week state of my body temperature and other factors did assist me with taking the right measures not to burn out.

And then, last week, barely a year after I bought it, it died.

It’s hard to impossible to troubleshoot a closed system like this. I assume it’s not charging anymore, none of the systems in my house can see its Bluetooth connection, so it’s probably dead beyond a restore.

And I miss it. Badly. For the past months, this had become my routine: get up, log into OpenHumans where I was running a private instance aggregating Apple Watch, Oura, Abbot (blood glucose), and other data to see when I was getting too close to the edge of irreversible burnout.

Oura Support has not yet answered my request, which seems to be an issue to some people (others report quick responses, I guess it all depends on their daily form), and I doubt I’ll be able to acquire a replacement before I return to Cyprus for another year of the usual treadmill.

When I purchased the ring, it was without great expectations. But, over the past months, I have become quite dependent on it as one more marker of physical and mental health. Something we all, especially those in direct COVID-19 response, badly need. Maybe there’s something else that will, unobtrusively, sit underneath my gloves or come with me during my hours off… or maybe I have to make do what else I have. But I never though I could miss a piece of plastic and silicon as much as I do.

For the time being, I am making do with AutoSleep, which is a great app (and which Apple tried to sherlock but failed). I’ll miss the body temperature readings1 and I somewhat got used to wearing a ring, but I’ll survive.

Once all this is over, we need to sit down for a good chat about the use of wearables in detecting and preventing health care worker burnout. For now, we’ll fight the remaining fires and take a breather. But then… yes, we need to talk. And we need to have a conversation about acceptable service and presence for companies who manufacture hardware and software that is intended to show health markers. Because, planned and wanted or not, people will use them to stay healthy and sane. And that, whomever you are, whatever “health” product you sell, puts you into a position of increased responsibility. Especially in times like these.

  1. Which, incidentally, also alerted me to my SARS-CoV-2 infection last year, without it I would have chalked the tiredness off to having pulled three 24-hour shifts with only hours between them [return]
Mikka Luster @mikka