Physical (and expected cognitive) measurement gadgets
It would be hard to optimize what you do not measure.
Body and mind are connected. Focus levels depend on your physical activity(or exertion), diet (or lack thereof), sleep, planning, light exposure, and many more.
Some of the things are intertangled; others are not. Damaging one can cause a chain reaction. This chain reaction is recovered only by triggering (changing) another aspect of your life.
Feel free to ask in the comments on particular scenarios.
In this (short) article, I am addressing the use of devices to measure your life/sleep/stress/extortion balance.
I have selected these after many iterations of different devices. Each one I purchased and tried for at least a year.
I have no affiliation with any of these; I Purchased them all at my own expense.
* Oura ring
* Whoop band
* Garmin Fenix
* Withings sleep mat
* Withings blood pressure monitor
I assume you know that you must train daily (160 cardio, 5 hours strength) weekly.
Yoga/stretching three times. Cold exposure ( at least 11 minutes weekly). Heat exposure (around 60 minutes in one bout weekly)
I did not yet find a better sleep monitor than oura ring. My performance levels converge very well with the sleep feedback I get from it.
Every time I experiment with sleep — this is my go-to tool. The most reliable and consistent metric I have on the sleep screen is deep sleep. The rest of the devices jump all around. Based on my (not objective) feeling and performance, this is the one that clicks the most.
My point of measurement is the 10 am jiu-jitsu class. When oura show my sleep quality as strong, my rolling partners attest I am strong on these days as well.
If I add or subtract nutritional or exogenous vitamins — it aligns perfectly.
Ate a pizza or sugar the night before? Don’t expect your sleep quality to be above 70.
I ate too close to bedtime (and didn’t compensate with a walk or at least squeezed lemon?); prepare for feedback of lousy sleep. You will feel it, but the feeling is not objective and frankly not important.
You can and should push through, but the moment you start to trust the ring, you can find what vitamins work for you and plan training or focus.
If there is a presentation in one week, you would want to plan your sleep and nutrition at least a week before — to reach peak clarity on the day of the presentation( hint: don’t eat pizza)
The champion of activity.
There is a sleep measurement, but I do not trust it much. It often shows relatively low sleep performance (49%) while I am an outstanding performance. I would speculate there is too much weight on sleep duration, but the actual sleep analysis feels random.
But the activity measurement is excellent. Recently the team added an apple health sync, which is synced all over the different apps.
The variety of activities is comprehensive, and precision and extortion levels are pretty good ( though I do not see them as good as the ones on Garmin Fenix). It can be worn during impact sports as well, with a sleave ( and recently with smart clothing that I don’t want to use)
I love the target stress level as a minimal expectation from myself. I also use it to extrapolate my ability to concentrate and perform cognitive work. That said, it is not a scientific method to measure cognitive expectation.
The auto-detection of activities and meditation/NSDR is purely brilliant. I always forget to do that on Fenix, and this way, I have a device that does it for me ( eventually, everything is integrated into Strava/apple health)
Withings sleep mat
My reference point for sleep. Hard to beat a device below your back that catches every move.
It catches snores as well. Get a few days into a bad diet, and you will start seeing the consequences.
It doesn’t do anything besides sleep, but it does it well. Sleep depth is consistent with performance levels and mostly diverges with oura ring for only a few minutes. It is integrated very well with other withing s devices ( scale and blood pressure monitor), exported to apple health to fuse a result.
Withings blood measure
You know that blood pressure is the indicator of the health state (coupled with blood work)
You can’t cheat that, a week of sugar? Expect high blood pressure (you don’t want to know your glucose level at that point).
It can also be a pretty good indicator of mental exertion; doing it immediately after waking up or after meditation helped me align expectations well for the upcoming day.
The BMI is not a reliable metric, unlike the blood pressure. Same as the sleeping mat — results are tracked and displayed in a very clear format on the Withings app, and it is very comfortable to see the clear correlation between weight fluctuation and blood pressure. If you gain weight ( while your body fat stays the same ) and your blood pressure remains the same or better, you improve or even get younger. But if blood pressure starts to go out of (your own) normal zone, you are probably taking on a bad habit.
#### Garmin Fenix (7)
Fenix is a recent addition to the toolset and the only one below the year mark.
I have used the apple watch for years, especially the oxygen metric. It is fine in the office and integrates brilliantly with the phone. What I do not like about the apple watch is that (a) there is a lack of innovation, and (b) it is very brittle. With the type of activities that I do, it is simply not reliable. I don’t want to waste attention on remembering to switch from apple watch to a durable watch.
Garmin has a consistent oxygen meter ( oura 3 and whoop 4 have these as well), it is quite reliable, and I would say all devices show the same values.
Sleep analysis is on the spot and better than the one of whoop. It is subjective, but I interpolate with whoop and oura — and ultimately with my performance of the day in physical and cognitive activities
It is the device with the best battery, even when I switch on continuous monitoring.
Garmin is the only device that can reliably measure strength training and reps. That said, there is no reps auto detection, and I simply forget to trigger it between the sets, so as good as it is, its usability of it renders it worthless.
Measure your body, activity, rest, and sleep.
Measuring is knowing; many times, I would still press on and carry on with whatever I need. At least I know why I feel weaker and could justify using some vitamin help to force myself to move. I mean by that dopamine increase ( as @hubermanlab calls it — the hormone of go), it can be breath practice, caffeine, GABA or acetyl-L-Carnitine.
Please don’t use Ritalin/ to boost your dopamine unless it was prescribed by MD ( and even then, think about it carefully, it is essentially the same as cocaine).
In another post, I will summarize how to boost your go power with practices I gathered and tested for the last two years.