The Eight Sleep Mattress—The Smart Bed of the Future Here Today

In 2014, I was one of the first to review a mattress from a new company called Casper. It was a great mattress, but since its early innovations around direct-to-consumer mattress materials and sales, not too much has changed. Mattresses have gotten better, sure, but they aren't necessarily actively making our lives any better. Eight Sleep's Mattress Pod Pro system on the other hand feels like the next step. It's a mattress of the future, but it's available now.

Eight Sleep Pod Pro
The Eight Sleep Pod Pro can adjust the mattress temperature automatically through the night. TYLER HAYES

In Eight Sleep's case, the future of sleep includes automatic temperature adjustment and sleep tracking. Their Pod Pro can track and sync sleep data to your phone, and features advanced temperature control over your mattress throughout the night.

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Because of the terminology, Eight Sleep's whole pod system can be a little confusing at first glance as to what it is or what it actually means. To break it down, the Pod Pro is a five-layer, 12-inch-deep foam mattress with a cover that includes the heating, cooling and tracking smarts. If you don't want or need a new mattress, then you can buy the Pod Pro Cover separately to add cooling, heating and tracking smarts to your existing mattress.

The Pod Pro starts at $2,795 for a full size and goes up to $3,495 for a California king size. The Pod Pro Cover starts at $1,645 for a full size and goes up to $1,945 for a California king size.

I tested the Pod Pro, which includes the mattress. It's comfortable and supportive—slightly firm, but not hard, and mostly just balanced. It was an upgrade over the nearly seven-year-old Casper mattress my wife and I were using. This review, however, will largely focus on the Pod Pro Cover and how the system actually works.

Setup and Design

The Pod Pro foam mattress is familiar if you've seen any of the many other mattresses over the last five years that come straight to your door rolled up in a box. The mattress slid out of the box and decompressed as expected. It was ready to go in just a few minutes.

The Pod Pro Cover includes a zip-on mattress cover that has a hose attached and connects to a black box. The hose is around 10-feet long and connects to a container for water that is used to heat and cool the mattress. It's capable of lowering the temperature to 55 degrees and as high as 110 degrees Fahrenheit. The box is also the part that connects to the internet and provides your app its data. The box and hose are a little inconvenient, but ultimately necessary at the moment. The mattress will last a lot longer than the technology in the box, so having a modular system that doesn't cut the mattress's life short feels like the right move in the hopes of upgradability or continued use of the mattress should something else break.

Eight Sleep Pod Pro
The hose-connected box houses water used for heating and cooling. TYLER HAYES

The setup of the cover made me a little nervous, but it went fine. Connecting the hose and filling a container with water was a little concerning as I thought about it leaking from a second-story bedroom. Several weeks in, there have been no leaks or water issues. Eight Sleep says the water reserve should last up to three months before it needs to be filled again, so I haven't reached that stage yet.

You connect to the box that houses all the smarts via a mobile app. The app assists in getting everything situated and provides setup videos that are helpful. While the setup process of this mattress cover and box was a completely foreign experience, even for a tech nerd, I didn't run into any issues.

During the setup, you'll have to decide where you want the hose-connected box to sit where it can also be within the range of a Wi-Fi signal. Having this box is probably one of the most compromising aspects of the whole system. In a lot of cases, it will require at least a minimal redesign to fit it into your bedroom. You'll have to decide if you're willing to work it into your room, but personally, even after the first few days, I felt the functionality it provides was worth the bit of hassle.

Features and Specs

Eight Sleep's advertised features and specs of the Pod Pro:

  • Automated cooling and heating between 55 to 110 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Custom temperatures for each side of the bed
  • Sleep tracking, including time slept, deep sleep and REM
  • HRV monitoring for health reports, respiration and heart rate
  • A natural wake-up alarm with GentleRise technology
  • 12-inch premium foam mattress with 5 layers

Performance

There are at least a few very passive options for sleep tracking on the market today that slide under your mattress to detect movement. Apple Watch and other fitness trackers can track sleep now, too. My experience with the Eight Sleep Pod Pro, however, provided the most detailed sleep information with the least amount of effort. In fact, there was no effort. If something was worth noting, the app alerts you, as well. There are fewer options for ways to control the temperature of a bed easily, so the advanced combination is a compelling offering.

Eight Sleep Pod Pro
The Pod Pro Cover includes the sensors for its sleep tracking. TYLER HAYES

The goal of adjusting the mattress temperature is for a more restful sleep, one that's not interrupted by outside forces. The tracking smarts are then available to confirm you're sleeping better and put data behind the feelings.

In my case, I didn't know what to expect from the data the Pod Pro would provide. I didn't think I had a problem with my sleep fitness, but, as anyone would, I liked the idea of feeling more rested in the morning.

The Pod Pro can be set on a schedule to automatically prepare your bedtime temperature when you hop into bed. Even in Southern California's low 50-degree weather, it's nice to get into a warm bed. It's really nice actually. My wife was thrilled about it, too. From the bedtime temperature, you can set other temperatures: two for mid-night and one for wake-up.

The automatic temperature control functionality was an aspect I found difficult to wrap my head around. It's simple enough to open the app and start warming or cooling the mattress, but it's less clear, based on the app design, whether you need to tell it the temperatures you want throughout the night, or whether it will work its magic on its own.

"Within each night, the phases of Smart Temp are triggered based on your sleep phases," Eight Sleep Co-founder Alexandra Zatarain told me over email. "For example, your bed will begin warming up or cooling down to your target bedtime temperature phase. Once you get in bed and fall asleep, the Pod will automatically switch to your initial temperature phase as it detects you've fallen asleep. Because during sleep your circadian rhythm goes through different fluctuations in temperature, we've designed Smart Temp to support those natural transitions. That's why you see four different phases available for your Smart Temp, which you can edit manually anytime."

The functionality of the Smart Temp feature seemed to work well, but I think the company can continue to bring clarity around design and messaging in the app. There are a lot of features packed in, and it was a little overwhelming the first few days to try and get a grip on everything going on.

Eight Sleep Pod Pro
The box connects to Wi-Fi for its app experience. TYLER HAYES

The black box that heats and cools the mattress does make some noise, but in my experience, it was very minimal. If you're not listening for the gentle hum when it's working, you probably won't notice it.

The other half of the Pod Pro is sleep tracking. There are health-grade, piezoelectric pressure sensors in the cover about chest high. Most of the time, I didn't notice them, and they never felt uncomfortable, but you can tell where they are. The amount of data that is trackable is impressive. It includes respiratory rate, resting heart rate and heart rate variability. It's also detecting how many times you toss and turn, how many times you get up during the night and how long it takes you to fall asleep. All the information is incredible to see—especially if you've never tracked your sleep before. Oh, and it can do this on each side of the bed, so if there are two people, each one has their own tracking data.

My first insight into my data was that I toss and turn a lot during the night. I can usually remember shifting around two to three times a night, but according to the Pod Pro, I toss and turn about 20 times a night. I'm also not quite sure what to do with my sleeping heart rate information at the moment, but I do love being able to look at it.

I was surprised at how accurate the time-to-sleep information appeared to be. Other data points, like time to leave bed were less so, but in general, the metrics seemed to line up with what I felt. The app displays all the data and groups it by day, week, month and year. I found myself checking the week and month views the most. I found those aggregated views to be the most helpful in looking for patterns and areas of concern. While some items, like my bedtime, were a little inconsistent and downgraded my sleep score—a number given to quantify all the tracked areas—the Pod Pro confirmed that my sleeping is generally on track.

Should You Buy an Eight Sleep Pod Pro?

There's a lot to consider about purchasing an Eight Sleep Pod Pro, but I found the whole system to deliver on its promises. It can do all the things the company says it can, and it mostly disappears into the background after a week or so, not needing much attention.

The question that will be more personal is whether you want or need what it can do. Both my wife and I were sold on the temperature aspect right away. That part is compelling and might be worth the purchase price alone. Sleep tracking feels like a bonus aspect to me, but it might be the main draw for people who need to track the data for health concerns.

Eight Sleep's Pod Pro is a futuristic experience, but even more than what it delivers today, I'm optimistic that this is just the start for better sleep fitness in the long term.

Buy at Eight Sleep.

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