I spent a month sleeping on a water-cooled mattress and I’d never go back
Last month I discovered one of the best mattresses I have ever slept on. The first thing that drew me to the Eight Sleep Pod Pro mattress as a gadget fan was that it was linked to an app. This app gives you a nightly sleep report, from your heart rate and breathing to the time you fell asleep and the sleep phases you went through.
With the Eight Sleep app you can also set the required temperature of the mattress from 55 to 110 degrees Fahrenheit (12.7 to 43.3 degrees Celsius) with different values for each side. You can also set the temperatures for your different stages of sleep – cool when you go to bed, a little warmer when you fall asleep, cozy in the end stages, and warm to wake you up however you want. It also wakes you up with vibrations like a life-size smartphone.
All of this is achieved through what Eight Sleep calls the Pod Pro. This is essentially a top cover that sits over the mattress that contains the sensors and most importantly the water channels. The eight sleep is not a water bed. It doesn’t buzz or splash when you get in so you don’t feel seasick. These are tiny water pipes that hold just enough water to heat or cool the area, much like a water-cooled gaming PC, only these can increase the heat as well. And you wouldn’t know they are there, except for the rather large pipe on the back of the headboard. This is connected to the water chamber, which is called a hub and is about the size of a desktop PC.
While you can simply purchase the Pod Pro cover and place it over your existing mattress, the entire kit comes with the Pod. This is a specially designed foam mattress with five layers of advanced foam technology that provides support, comfort and airflow. In addition, the water system can work at an optimal level.
(Image credit: Eight Sleep)
Installation of eight Sleep Pod Pro
The complete Pod Pro set comes in two large boxes – one for the rolled mattress and the other for the cover and hub. The instructions are in the second box with the cover and hub, but in my excitement I went straight to the mattress. Not only is it rolled, it’s also vacuum sealed. Once you lay it out and pierce the plastic cover, it will expand to its full 12 inches in height in minutes. You don’t have to wait hours for the foam to expand, you’re good to go.
With the mattress in place, unfold the Pod Pro cover and run the water pipe under your headboard to where you will be placing the hub. The cover then snaps into the mattress to keep it in place. Of course, due to the length of the tube, the hub sits next to the bed, between the bed and the bedside table. It needs power as well as a strong Wi-Fi signal for the app to connect. I had to connect a Wi-Fi extender to make sure the signal was strong enough.
Once all of them are connected, you need to prepare the water. The app guides you through the whole process with short videos. It is recommended to use filtered water and add a drop of hydrogen peroxide, which you can buy from most pharmacies (or from amazon). The first primer takes a few minutes while the second primer takes a lot longer, but you can use the bed while it does its thing.
(Image credit: Eight Sleep)
The Eight Sleep Pod Pro app
The best thing about the Eight Sleep Pod Pro is the app. It’s available for Android and iOS and has all the temperature controls and sleep data. For temperature control, you can treat the entire bed as one temperature (for single sleepers) or split it in half and invite your partner to download the app too to control their side.
You can then set regular schedules for your bedtime and wake-up time. You can do this for any day or group of days. So if you want one time for weekdays and another for weekends, you can make it happen. When you set the alarm time, you can also set the wake-up temperature and vibration level at a level from 1 to 10.
The app suggests a sequence of temperatures based on initial questions about how warm your bed is. Usually, however, this indicates a warmer wake-up temperature. I like going to a cool bed but then being warmer at night, so I start with a -4 for bedtime, a -3 when I first fall asleep, a zero in the terminal stages, and a +5 to to wake up (the scale ranges from -10 to +10).
If you set a bedtime, the Pod Pro will start cooling (or heating) the bed about 30 minutes in advance so it is up to temperature as soon as you get in. This is especially nice on a hot night to get into a cool bed. and I suspect when winter comes it will be nice to set it up so that it’s toasty warm too.
The other use of the app is to give you data on how you slept. For those intrigued by sleep trackers, this takes things to another level without leaving your watch on overnight.
Each morning you will be given a sleep fitness score (out of 100). This is then broken down into sleep time, wakefulness, time to fall asleep and time to get out of bed. It then also gives you a timeline of when you got to bed, when you fell asleep, when you woke up, and when you got out of bed. There is even a graph of your sleep stages where you can keep track of your deep sleep, light sleep, REM sleep and your waking time.
And the data goes on. Another tab allows you to see your heart rate variability, your sleep heart rate, and your sleep breathing rate. These are more useful when compared to weeks and months, but useful for measuring your stress levels, health, and anxiety.
The app also offers mediation and breathing exercises, soothing sounds, and even pre-bed yoga exercises to help you relax. You can easily spend a lot of time reviewing your sleep patterns, or you can set them once and never use the app again – although you will need it to turn off the morning alarm and end the sleep session. I usually scan it quickly when I wake up.
(Image credit: Eight Sleep)
The Eight Sleep Pod Pro mattress
As already mentioned, the actual mattress has also been specially developed to improve your sleep experience. It has five unique layers that aid, comfort and provide airflow. At 12 inches, the pod is standard for a premium foam-based mattress. Although it doesn’t claim to be memory foam, it has a 4-inch premium foam base, a 4-inch layer of FlexSpring Technology, a 1-inch layer of Supportive Air Technology, and a 2-inch layer. Layer “Airflow” and then a 1-inch layer “Comfort Blend”.
The result of this combination is a medium-hard mattress that is suitable for side, stomach or back sleepers. It definitely felt firmer than my previous innerspring mattress and topper, but is much more comfortable to sleep in – and I’m a side sleeper.
There is also very little transmission of motion here. My partner getting into or out of bed has no effect on my side. The only area that is missing is the edge support. If you sleep right on the edge of the bed, you will feel as if you are about to roll out. This is probably less of a problem with a king-size mattress or when you sleep alone.
The price for the Eight Sleep Pod Pro
With all of this technology on board, it’s no surprise that this costs a little more than the average mattress. A queen-size Pod Pro costs $ 2,895, while the full size starts at $ 2,595 and the Cali King starts at $ 3,295 (the same price as the King). You can also buy the mattress just starting at $ 2,095 or the new Pod Pro Max (with extra heat dissipation for hot sleepers) starting at $ 3,095. The Pod Pro cover (for standard mattresses) starts at $ 1,595.
Unfortunately, Eight Sleep is currently only available in the US.
Is the Eight Sleep Pod Pro worth it?
There’s no denying that the Eight Sleep Pod Pro takes a bit of getting used to. All of the settings can be a bit overwhelming, and knowing that water is pumping under you may make you feel strange to some – not that you can feel it. But a month later, I don’t want to sleep on a bed without the Pod Pro system. The level of temperature control is really impressive and the ability to precisely set the exact temperature you sleep at is groundbreaking. Sure, I could live without the vibrations that wake me up in the morning, but I see the same way every 6am alarm clock – including my dog.
The sleep data is really interesting too, although it does penalize you for reading or lying down in bed, which feels a little harsh. When I look back on my sleep fitness over the past month, my numbers haven’t improved, but I definitely feel like I’m sleeping better.
If you’re a fan of sleep data or just want to get into a perfectly cool bed, the Eight Sleep Pod Pro is a must have. Just prepare to be disappointed if you sleep anywhere else.
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