I love to sleep — the moment I get to starfish under the covers is my favorite time of day. But my snoozes have been lacking over the last year thanks to ever-accumulating pandemic stress, which has impacted my mood, energy levels, and overall health. So when I heard about Eight Sleep’s Pod Pro smart mattress — which uses temperature regulation and artificial intelligence to optimize your ZZZs — I jumped at the chance to try it for better rest.
Eight Sleep believes that fitness is as important when you’re asleep as it is while you’re awake — so its products seek to improve peoples’ “sleep fitness” game. And they’re not wrong: Research shows that getting a good snooze (which for adults is at least seven hours per night, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) is essential for muscle repair, a key component of building strength. That’s in addition to sleep’s ability to boost your immune system, reduce stress, and help you think clearly, all of which help prime you for a solid workout.
With the Pod Pro specifically, the mattress uses a smart topper lined with AI-powered sensors and a thermoregulating grid system that track your sleep, modulate your temperature, and provide personalized sleep recommendations to help you get more quality rest than you would on a typical mattress.
I’ll never pass up the opportunity to get more and better sleep, so I put the magical-sounding bedtime booster to the test. Read on for what it was like to sleep on a smart mattress and how it actually impacted my sleep.
How The Pod Pro Works
The Pod Pro ($2,895 for a queen-sized mattress and topper) clearly isn’t your average mattress. It includes three main components: the foam mattress, the smart topper, and its accompanying Hub that you plug it into, which looks a lot like a desktop computer tower. The topper has a 0.01 inch-thick layer of various sensors that track your body temperature, movement, heartbeats, and breathing patterns. It also includes what it calls an Active Grid, a system of tiny tubes through which the Hub pumps water to cool or warm you.
Once you unpack the vacuum-sealed mattress, zip on the topper, and plug it into the Hub, you connect the bed to your WiFi and the free SleepOS app. Once you’re connected to the app, there are clear instructions for how to add water to the Hub so it can “prime” the Active Grid (aka pumping it with the water that will help moderate your temperature overnight).
Before your first snooze, you fill out questions in the app about your sleeping preferences, habits, and natural body temperature. The Pod Pro’s AI technology takes that information, feedback from the sensors, and data about your environment — like temperature and humidity — to craft you a custom sleep experience, which you can either set to “Autopilot” or “Manual” depending on how much control you want over your temperature settings. For example, my mattress is set to Autopilot and starts cooling down to -2 (on a cold-to-hot scale of -10 to 10) an hour before my 11 p.m. bedtime. It then slowly warms up throughout the night to guide me through the deep, light, and REM phases of sleep in time for a 7:30 a.m. wakeup. These temperature settings can apply to the entire bed if you’re sleeping alone, or you can create custom preferences for each side of the mattress if you’re sharing with a partner.
And the smart mattress technology isn’t limited to the bed itself: The app also gives you detailed insights about your sleep based on the sensors’ data, including how long it took you to drift off, how much time you spent in each phase of sleep, your heart rate, and how often you tossed and turned. It uses those metrics to calculate a daily Sleep Fitness score (ranging from zero to 100%) that reflects how healthy your rest was. Even better? The app gives you tips to improve your snooze, like reminding you to stick to regular bedtimes or suggesting a higher or lower temperature to facilitate more deep sleep.
What It’s Like
For context, I’m a hot sleeper. Between my natural body temperature, boyfriend, and our very large, very hot dog, I sweat when I snooze, which has proven to be a persistent barrier to a smooth eight hours of shut-eye. Given my proclivity to night sweats, I was skeptical that a mattress could completely cure the problem. But boy was I wrong: After two weeks of sleeping on the Pod Pro, I’ve yet to wake up with soaked bedsheets.
The temperature changes are subtle, BTW. Ordinarily, curling up under a duvet in the middle of the humid Chicago summer would be uncomfortably warm. With the Pod Pro, I’m able to stay under the covers at a pleasantly neutral temperature all night long, without ever feeling like I’m sleeping atop an ice pack. And it’s cozy, too — the layers of sensors and Active Grid are so thin and flexible that you mostly just feel the foam mattress, which is soft and supportive.
The Pod Pro has also made the process of waking up a whole lot easier (this is something I, as a night owl, tend to struggle with). Gone are the days of my jarring iPhone alarm: Instead, the mattress slowly heats up to +1 about an hour before my set wakeup time to guide me out of deeper sleep, then gently vibrates to fully rouse me (a feature that you can turn off if you’d rather sleep in). The end result? A wakeup that feels much more natural and energizing than before.
The app is great itself, too. It provides accurate metrics and useful recommendations to make each night better than the last. I particularly love knowing how long it takes to fall asleep, which has been a helpful gauge for my anxiety levels — with this data, I’m able to address my stress more effectively during the day in order to get more restful sleep at night. As an added bonus, the app also has a library of guided meditations, breathing exercises, soothing soundscapes, and exercise and stretch routines, all designed to help you better wind down, fall asleep, and wake up. In other words: all the sleep fitness essentials you could possibly need.
I can’t shout this from the rooftops loudly enough: I love this mattress. If better sleep is what you seek and you have the means to buy one, the Pod Pro is worth the hype. The temperature-regulating topper and vibrational alarm made my snoozes significantly more comfortable, restful, and energizing from start to finish — and that’s coming from someone who already enjoyed sleeping a lot. The personalized metrics and recommendations also help build and reinforce healthy habits so your nights are as restorative as possible. Now that I’ve experienced the ultimate smart mattress on the market, I’m never going to sleep on top of anything else.
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