WHOOPS: You’re Sleeping Poorly

January 25, 2021
Silvan Krähenbühl

There’s no denying that sleep is crucial for our lives. While I didn’t pay too much attention to my sleep quality when I began my startup career with Gymhopper, I’ve since made an effort to make stark improvements. I downplayed the importance of sleeping a full 8 hours instead of 6, I figured I would be fine, that I could handle less time asleep to accommodate more working hours into my day, which started at 6 am and regularly ended with me going to sleep around midnight, exhausted.

This went on for 2.5 years, until I realized the great benefits of a full night’s rest. About a year ago I finished reading Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker, and it really opened my eyes to the importance of sleep.

I’ve since then made an effort to course correct my sleeping habits, and now managing my sleep is easier than ever, thanks to sleep tracking technology. The difference has been, quite literally, night and day. Sleeping 8 hours or more not only helps us look and feel better, as well as allowing us to get more done throughout the day, it also helps prevent obesity and Alzheimer’s disease, among other conditions that are strongly linked with chronic lack of sleep.

Sleep Tracking Made Easy

That’s why I bought the WHOOP tracker after looking through the catalogue of fitness tracking devices. I decided on this one for the following reasons: it had to be wearable so I could wear it on my wrist; it couldn’t have a notification display in order to avoid interruptions; and it needed a long battery life, which the WHOOP has, lasting about 5 days without requiring charging.

However, it’s most important function is the biometrics it keeps track of, from your pulse and activity level, to your sleep rating and HRV (Heart Rate Variability), it gives you detailed data regarding whether you’re in shape or not, as well as warning you of upcoming burnout or other diseases. So that’s why I decided to go with WHOOP. I made the decision back in January 2020, while I was traveling the USA. They had launched a new version, and I decided to give it a test run, and have been very pleased with the results.

Features and Pricing

There is something that you need to know about WHOOP that sets it apart from other devices, and that is the business model. While Fitbit, Garmin, and the other big players offer their device for a single price (around $200-$300 usually) with no additional costs, along with a free app that works with the device, WHOOP offers the device for free and you instead pay a $30 monthly subscription fee. So, if you end up using it for a longer period, it ends up being a lot more expensive than the competition. Something to keep in mind.

After you have the device, the app gives you some great data analysis. Strain is the measurement of your daily activity. Sleep shows how much time you stay in each sleep phase, as well as how often you wake up during the night. It additionally displays how much time you spend in bed, because time spent in bed isn’t the same as time spent asleep. It’s something we don’t think about too often, but if you want to get a full 8 hours of sleep, you should spend 8.5 to 9 hours in bed. Otherwise, you might end up with 7.5 hours of sleep or less, and that ends up having a huge impact.

Tracking You Actually Want

WHOOP analysis your sleep, measures your HRV, and shows your Recovery score, which is calculated based on your HRV, sleep score, and your resting heart rate. This overall measures how well recovered you are, which helps you make informed decisions about your day. If your recovery score was low that night, then maybe you should take it easy and let yourself fully recover. On the other hand, if it was high, then maybe you can afford to go all out and get as much done as possible!

What I like most about the app is the journaling feature. When you wake up, it prompts you to fill in your journal. This allows the app to track your habits. This includes questions such as did you have any caffeine, or did you drink any alcohol, are you feeling stressed, among others. Over time (at least a solid month of data gathering), WHOOP starts to make weekly or even daily suggestions and recommendations regarding your habits. You start to notice patterns in your behavior, like having worse sleep after drinking coffee the previous day, or noticing the effects of alcohol consumption, or even the benefits of sharing your bed with your spouse, which is linked to improved sleep quality.

One Ring to Track Them All

So, all of this is great, it works wonderfully, but recently I decided to cancel my WHOOP membership, and I’m going to tell you why. It’s just too expensive to be worth it. I tested its features for about 10 months, but at this point I don’t want to spend another $300 just to keep getting the same data. I’ve learned what I could from WHOOP, and have decided to switch to the Oura Ring, a similar different device that offers the same metrics, but with a single payment. And it’s a ring, which is rather simple and comfortable to wear in most situations.

I learned about it from Remo Uherek, a famous Swiss blogger, whom I would like to thank for bringing the Oura Ring to my attention with his very insightful review article.

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