Biofedback and biohacking - 8 months with OURA ring tracking and Wim Hof Method training

21 Jan 2020 Leonardo Pelagotti Biohacking

What I learnt from months of biofeedback with OURA ring and biohacking with Wim Hof Method training!

Hi guys, I am Leo,

I am a Wim Hof Method instructor, an Oxygen Advantage Coach and Co-founder of Inspire –Potential.

I have been fascinated by human body and mind abilities and potential since my early career as a professional gymnast in Italy for 15 years.

I have had a regular training regime for mainly 20 consistent years of my life, just lately questioning myself how to better train and be more efficient due to lack of time, space or resources.

Interested in biofeedback, health and empowering tools, since August 2019 I have used regularly (basically every day) the biofeedback tracking offered by the OURA Ring ( a sleep and activity tracker.

I have coupled my day to day regular habits, routine and biohacking practices that I have been doing for some years now (for example training, intermittent fasting, meditation, Wim Hof method and breathwork..) with the observation of biofeedback parameters (mainly HRV, heart rate and sleep quality, breath frequency)

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What did I found?

The OURA ring is meant mainly at sleep tracking.

Of course the awareness of the actual amount of quality sleep hours has surprised me (I tough I was sleeping more than what I actually do, realizing I am slightly sleep deprived, with an average of 7h of sleep each night, compared to an advised 7 and half to 8 hours of sleep for my profile).

The OURA ring also offers activity tracking, and I have been also fascinated by seeing the actual intensity of my usual training routine, realizing that I do mainly medium intensity activity when I train and that I manage to go on high intensity rarely and with only few exercises.

For example when I do TABATA or HIIT I thought of being at a higher heart rate but I am quite often still in medium intensity exercise.

I manage to go higher only with running and even my daily 20km of cycling in Paris are mainly in medium activity range.

What surprised me was also the amount of static time I had on a day, me, a guy that cannot stay still, always moving, walking, taking the stairs, cycling to commute etc.. up to 10 hours a day of still sitting time at a desks.

I had no idea of that before.

So now I stretch more often during an office day.

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But what really got my attention and manly surprised me are these 3 things:

1) The impact of fasting (or eating) on my sleep quality, body regeneration and Heart Rate Variability (HRV) at night

2) The impact of cold water exposure on my HRV instantly (using OURA ring Moment functionality)

3) Mindfulness and meditation with Wim Hof breathing exercises (using OURA ring Moment functionality)

Eating/fasting and sleep, body recovery and HRV at night

Lately I have been struggling with a hectic and busy life, and the hours of sleep have drastically reduced, often going to sleep after midnight and waking up before sunrise.

I had in the past, some experiences with fasting for multiple days, and I do on a daily basis the intermittent fasting regime 8/16 or 24h fast (one meal a day) and I noticed an increased amount of available energy and focus while fasting.

I also studied the fasting derived benefits for cells regeneration/repairs/cleansing (autophagy) and when I started experiencing the lack of sleep derived fatigue I decided that my strategy would have been skipping my dinner meal for a better recovery at night and eating mainly in the central hours of the day (example from 11h00 to 16h00).

The results came, I observed that if I ate less and skipped dinner, not only I had a better sleep but I could compensate for about 1h less of sleep.

Thanks to OURA ring I monitored my sleep quality, HRV and heart rate at night, breathing frequency and sleep stages and I can say that consistently I had a better night sleep when I did not eat compared to when I had dinner.

The only exception was for a few nights where I had so much energy during the night and in the evening due to the fast state that I did not manage to ease down and go to sleep before late in the night.

The sleep tracking by OURA ring indicated more deep sleep and more REM and an overall readiness score higher than usual.

This was reflected also in a lowest resting heart rate average during the night, a higher average HRV overall during night and even a reduced breathing rate.

I have tried also meditations and breathwork techniques before sleeping at night to calm down, get my parasympathetic nervous system to kick-in and calm down my sympathetic autonomous nervous system (ANS), but all of these even if they helped, did not affect the entire night quality sleep as much. They maybe helped at the beginning of my sleep phase, but had less profound effects overall.

Inversely, all my parameters were worsened by a late dinner or a heavy dinner, with significantly higher heart rate at night, higher body temperature, higher breathing rate, and lower average night HRV.

To understand the impact of eating on HRV, I have measured my HRV also during the day with the Moment function of OURA ring and I noticed a direct link between eating and digesting and low values of HRV.

This seems quite reasonable since while digesting the entire body and system is meant to rest and process rather than being efficient or repairing (that is done during fasting and sleeping at night).

So it seems for me a good strategy to combine the restorative and regenerative parts of both sleeping and fasting at the same time during one day, for me at night.

This is not a general advice I can give anyone, I would rather say to try for yourself and see how your body responds over 10-15 days and make your own informed decision.

But for me it is evidence based: if I want to regenerate, recover and perform I skip dinner (and I eat in a few hours windows around mid-day).

This doesn’t mean I will no longer eat dinner, just that I know the impact I have for when I decide to do one with family or friends.

The Wim Hof Method cold showers and Heart Rate Variability

I am a Wim Hof method instructor and I do work with cold showers and ice baths on a daily basis.

My morning routine include breathing exercises, cold showers coupled with some movement, yoga and meditation, ending with intermittent fasting. I would say a robust biohacking routine.

Thanks to the OURA ring Moment function I was now able to monitor my heart rate and HRV throughout the day at some specific moments.

I did decide therefore to conduct some experiments around my rituals and practices for physical and mental performance.

I did the following test:

I measured my HRV and heart rate for 5 minutes at rest during the day at a given moment when I had time to and I was ready for it.

Then I went to do a cold shower (temperature varied in different experiments but I would say the range was 10-15°C) for about 2/3 minutes.

Then I lied down again and at rest I measured again my heart rate and HRV for 5 minutes. What I noticed was ASTONISHING!

My heart rate was dropped of about 10-20 bpm and my HRV had doubled or tripled (going from values of around 50 to 100ms and also going from 32 to 100ms another time).

So basically in the space of 5 minutes (the time to go and take a cold shower) I had managed to RESET my entire body and nervous system and boost my overall efficiency and recovery.

So what does it mean?

That the cold shower is an amazing tool for body recovery, repair and reset and that can easily and at no cost re-center my physiology in no time. Cold is an ultimate biohacking tool.

Here is an exercise that I am keeping with me as one of the best tool ever that nature provides us: cold exposure (gradual and unforced).

For more information about the Wim Hof Method see the website here: or

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Meditation and Wim Hof breathing on Heart Rate Variability

As I said I do daily 10-15 minutes of Wim Hof breathing (as I explained in this article here) in my morning ritual.

I do adapt the techniques based on my feeling and energy levels, but I do some sort of Wim Hof breathing (basic, anti-inflammation, for endurance or energy activation..).

Breathwork is my powerful biohacking secret. I have recently introduced the rythmical Yogic breathing into my morning routine and I had outstanding results in increasing my HRV during the breathwork exercise. You can read more about the biohacking secrets of breathwork here.

I always feel better after the breathing exercise than before, and I have to say these exercises are quite powerful for an autonomous nervous system reset and respiratory system training (but I will talk in more details about it in another article).

I did already quite a few tests on the physiology of breathing, on heart rate variability testing with Heart Math Institute emwave2 (read the article here).

So I decided to use the OURA Moment function for tracking heart rate and HRV during breathing.

What I observed was for some sort surprising.

I knew from an experience before that I could increase heart coherence thanks to Wim Hof Breathing (unforced, smooth, as a wave and as I teach it).

What I observed now was a clear activation of the sympathetic nervous system function, the increase on the heart rate pulse and variations on HRV based on the breath holds length.

More precisely:

if the breath holds were unforced and relaxed I had an increase of the HRV average on my breathing exercise (about 10-15ms), but if I was forcing the breath hold than the cardiac coherence was lost and my HRV was dropping.

This should not be a surprise for a well-informed Oxygen Advantage coach that uses oximeters during Wim Hof breathing to track SpO2%* and heart rate pulse.


Because I observed that thanks to the Wim Hof breathing preparation cycle, the breath hold is long and the hypoxia reached can go very low (I reach easily 40-50% SpO2, but I will describe this in a further article).

This means the body can push quite far from the balance and the training effect is high and powerful.

The physiology is changed as described by the 2019 medicine Nobel Prize for adaptation to hypoxia (lack of oxygen) according to Hormesis low, but what it means is: this is a training exercise now, intense, basically like doing HIIT, and therefore should not be pushed too much.

As any intensity exercise this as for role the training of the body and not the immediate regeneration.

The same goes therefore for the breathing:

if I push on the breath holds I am doing a high intensity exercise, so the HRV will drop.

If I do not push during the breath hold, so I do not go on a powerful hypoxia, the physiology training will be lower but overall the body is regenerating more and goes to a higher center state and higher HRV on the moment.

This is not surprising to an extent for a Wim Hof method instructor with quite a lot of experience in saying: “no forcing during the breathing”, nor an Oxygen Advantage coach that knows that hypoxia is not advised to do below 80% SpO2 unless for highly trained individuals.

But when practicing the Wim Hof breathing I have never really measured what my body perceive as a limit for “no forcing” and I realized that if mentally I can feel still good (and well below forcing), in reality the threshold between an exercise that is intense, a training for me and an exercise that is a recovery is more difficult to assess and generally comes before I feel it.

So this is an important piece of advice for the practice of the Wim Hof method breathing or other breath holds techniques.

If breath hold can be a great tool for body repair, meditation and feeling good in general, pushing with it is taxing for the body as an intense physical exercise and therefore rest is needed (still has some quite good physiological changes as explained in the 2019 Nobel Prize)!

So now I adapt better my breathing practice for what I need: training or recovery.

And you should do it to.

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The OURA ring allowed me to play with biofeedback parameters and couple this with my previous experience in “feeling and understating” the body and the mind during practices or everyday life.

The information based approach integrates the “feeling” based approach that it is based more on body awareness and knowledge.

The OURA ring does not replace this “knowing ourselves” but rather enhance its understanding and biohacking kits.

It allows also to perform experiments and see the impacts of some choices on basic body physiology parameters.

The OURA ring seems to be quite accurate with what I observe naturally and feel for my body, and it goes along with my “observing and assessing myself” but it is not certainly the absolute truth to follow first thing up in the morning.

In fact I do prefer avoiding looking at the ring first in the morning to give myself time and space for observing and adapting morning routines.

I try give myself an assessment, based purely on personal body/mind knowledge, of how I feel today before seeing OURA ring scores. 

In this way I keep learning about my body/mind and I can correct later if needed with biofeedback data.

Sleep and recovery are today undervalued but at the same time essential parts of growing and health.

So I will keep exploring and testing biohacking tools and I will keep you posted with a next article about OURA Ring, biofeedback, Wim Hof method, Oxygen Advantage and more.


Thanks for reading, keep learning about you and I will conclude with a couple of quotes from Wim Hof “feeling is understanding” and another from Delphi temple “Know yourself and you will know Gods and the Universe”.


Leonardo Pelagotti


* SpO2: Partial pressure of oxygen in the arterial blood


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Ils ont participé aux stages INSPIRE

"Week-end à St-Jacques-les-Blats"

Par Tarzan

Une très belle découverte que ce stage Wim Hof en compagnie d'Élise et et Leo en maîtres de cérémonie. Bien être et zenitude au programme. Un grand merci à vous deux!

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"Une nouvelle énergie ressentie lors du stage Découverte"

Par MOTHES Jean-Luc

Bonjour, comme dit à Elise et Leonardo : rien que la respiration Wim Hof, sur 4 Cycles, pratiquée avant l'exposition au froid, fut une découverte exceptionnelle ! Avec même de l'émotionnel qui est remonté à la surface alors que je suis habituellement peu "émotionnel" :o). Deux jours après, j'ai voulu retenter l'expérience seul, "pour voir", les conseils et la voix de Leonardo étant encore frais dans ma tête. La sensation lors de cette seconde fois fut encore différente : j'ai eu l'impression d'une énergie bienfaisante plus vive et plus nette que la première fois ! Ainsi, je me réjouis d'avance en me disant que beaucoup de découvertes peuvent être faites rien que par des méthodes respiratoires; notre corps peut être un formidable outil. Merci encore à vous, j'espère pouvoir un jour vous rejoindre sur des sessions/stages plus avancées si le contexte le permet. Jean-Luc

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"Les torrents bienveillants"

Par Martino

Caro Leonardo et Élise, quelle semaine Magique dans le Piémont j’ai de neveau passé avec vous, ça été d’une perfection absolue, d’une justesse millimètre d’un bienveillance jamais vue , avec vous tout est là pour que on ce sent plus vivant ,avec une groupe magnifique .Certes la nature est magique, mais vous deux , avec votre énergie qui m’as rempli le cœur ♥️ de joie, sérénité et de vitalité, vous la rendez sacré. Votre enseignement des pratiques votre connaissance et votre gentillesse sont un cadeaux de l’univers. MERCI . Martino

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