Interpret Your Sleep Graphs
Below, we share a few key items to look out for and keep top of mind while interpreting the graphs visible in your Sleep tab. These include:
- Your Sleep Staging Hypnogram
- Your Sleep Movement Graph
Feel free to follow along with your own Oura data, or use the images included as references.
Your Sleep Staging Hypnogram.
What to Optimize For
1. Ideally, three to five ~ 90-minute completed sleep cycles.
How to identify full a sleep cycle in your data? Look for groupings of light, deep, and REM sleep—signaling you’ve spent time in each, one after another. There’s no need to become fixated on this, but the more complete sleep cycles you can identify, the better. In the example included, you’ll see that some sleep cycles don’t include all three stages or reach a ~90-minute interval, and that’s entirely normal. We can’t expect our bodies and minds to respond perfectly all the time.
2. A well-distributed amount of time spent in each stage (light, deep, and REM).
Ideally, the amount of time you spend in each sleep stage on a nightly cadence would fall somewhere between the following percentages (see image below for visual reference).
- Awake: 2-5%
- Light: 45-55%
- Deep: 13-23%
- REM: 20-25%
However, understanding that all bodies and minds are incredibly unique, your sleep stages may not necessarily fall within these averages, and likely not on a routine basis. Here’s what you can keep an eye out for instead:
- Less awake time, or 'white horizontal bars' visible on your sleep hypnogram (i.e., nightly trace) as well as in the chart at the top of your Sleep tab screen.
- More time spent in the restorative stages of sleep (i.e., deep and REM).
- Look for more, and longer 'dark blue horizontal bars' in your sleep hypnogram to identify increased time spent in deep sleep. More concentrated amounts of deep sleep tend to occur in the 1st half of your night—although this is not always the case.
- Look for more, and longer of the 'lightest blue horizontal bars' in your sleep hypnogram to identify increased time spent in REM sleep. More concentrated amounts of REM sleep tend to occur in the 2nd half of the night—although this is not always the case.
- To note: light sleep is not “wasted sleep.” Half of your sleep time, if not more, is likely to be spent in this stage and it’s equally as influential in ensuring you feel well-rested and prepared to take on each day.
- By scrolling back and forth through the chart at the very top of your Sleep tab, you can observe how your distribution of time spent in each stage has changed over time. You may quickly spot recent days, or weeks, with both more and less ideal sleep stage distributions. However, note that a more targeted approach to digging into your sleep patterns and how they’ve changed over time can be leveraged by using trends.
3. A time asleep value (shown in large white lettering above your hypnogram) that falls anywhere between the recommended 7-9 hours.
Note, this is different from your total duration value, which also includes time you were awake over the course of your night.
This may also vary depending on lifestyle factors, genetics, subjective feeling, etc. For example, some people find they function at their mental, emotional, and physical best with slightly under 7 hours or slightly over. If you're overcoming illness or sleep deprivation, have a chronic condition, are pregnant, among many other lifestyle circumstances—you may need more than 9 hours and that's perfectly okay. As always, Oura advocates that you tap in, listen to your body, and act in alignment with what's best for your overall well-being.
What to Keep An Eye Out For
More REM than usual
This may be a sign you’re recovering from prolonged sleep deprivation. See here for 7 tips for improving your regular accumulation of REM sleep.
More deep than usual
This may be the result of a recent hard workout, or behavioral changes you’ve implemented to improve your sleep quality such as limiting nighttime device usage, cutting off caffeine consumption by 2pm, practicing mindfulness, or setting consistent sleep and wake times. See here for 5 additional ways you can boost your deep sleep.
Your Sleep Movement Graph
What to Keep An Eye Out For
1. To simplify things, the fewer vertical lines you see in your sleep movement graph, the better.
If you do see vertical lines in your movement graph, the smaller in length they are, the better.
2. Vertical lines longest in length and colored white indicate heavy movement, likely indicating you were awake during that instance.
You may also see these long white lines align with awake time in your sleep hypnogram (i.e., nightly trace).
3. Any medium, or short grey vertical lines likely identify brief moments of tossing and turning—or light shifting in your sleep over the course of your night.
Although not as impactful on your overall restfulness as any long, white lines, they can still have an impact if you accumulate enough from the time you hit your pillow to the time you wake-up.
Very low movement:
You may notice after nights when your sleep movement graph has limited, to no vertical lines visible that your percentage of awake time is lower, while deep and REM percentages may be higher. This illustrates that with less nighttime movement and general sleep disruption, the quality and quantity of your rest is higher. You can directly look for this by comparing your sleep hypnogram and sleep movement graph vertically in your Oura App—as they’re stacked on top of one another for your convenience.
You can also check out how your restfulness contributor coordinates on nights with a crowded movement graph, in comparison to nights with limited to no movement detected. Jump to your movement graph if you see your restfulness contributor set to 'Pay attention' on any given day (or vice versa) to observe this potential relationship in your data.