If there's been one constant this summer it's that it's hot. Real hot. The blistering summers predicted years ago by climate scientists have come to roost and, frankly, we're not ready for it.
One of the interesting factoids I've learned reading about extreme heat is that it isn't necessarily the blistering daytime highs but the middling nighttime lows that cause the most trauma. When we can't cool down at night, we sleep poorly and our bodies can't recover properly.
You can get a mattress like the Casper Hybrid Wave Snow, that routes heat away from your body and uses a topper filled with material that's cool to the touch. Or maybe you grab a set of Cozy Earth bamboo sheets that are moisture-wicking and more breathable than cotton.
But what if you've tried passive cooling techniques to keep you cool at night and you're still waking the next day feeling bleary and clammy?
Well then it's time to employ some more active technology.
I reviewed Eight Sleep's Pod 2 mattress and cover a couple of years ago and came away impressed with its cooling technology and mountains of data that it provided on your "sleep fitness."
Of course, since then, even more players have joined in the sleep fitness game. Fitness mainstays like Garmin and Fitbit have tracked sleep for years. But now Apple tracks sleep via the Apple Watch and there are even less obtrusive solutions like the Oura Ring (which just added pulse oxygen monitoring to its sleep data).
In the face of all this, Eight Sleep couldn't afford to rest on its previous technology. That's why the Pod 3 has a quad-core CPU and new internal hardware to make it faster, smarter, and quieter than previous Eight Sleep products. It can process more algorithms locally, rather than sending biometric data to the cloud. This gives it the ability to react more quickly to changes in your sleep environment.
The Pod 3 Cover (which Eight Sleep sent to me to review) zips over just about any mattress and packs in double the amount of sensors in a much finer mesh, providing a 4,000 times improvement in sensor resolution. It also sleeps much more comfortably, providing a more even surface than the Pod 2 Cover. Heart rate variability (HRV) accuracy is improved by 20% as well.
In addition to HRV, the Pod 3 keeps an eye on heart rate, respiratory rate, sleep stages, and how often you toss and turn in bed.
And while sleep data is interesting, you've probably got a piece of technology that's already tracking this for you. So what does Eight Sleep do differently?
It actively adjusts your bed to be the perfect temperature all night long.
The Pod 3 Cover can cool itself to 55°F and heat up to 110°F (though we're less interested in that during the summer months). Set a schedule and the Pod 3 starts charging the active grid, cooling it down to your optimal sleep temperature. You can either keep the default temperature settings recommended by the Pod 3 or tweak them manually by a few degrees.
Thinking I knew better than the Pod 3, on the first night I ditched the defaults and dialed in what I thought were reasonable temperatures (-3 below baseline temps for deep sleep cycles). It resulted in me waking up extremely cold on one side and fumbling for my phone to adjust the temperature back to a more reasonable -1. My wife was unaffected on her side, having decided to trust the Pod to keep things comfortable.
After that initial hiccup, I let the Pod 3 determine the best temp based on its improved autopilot. It keeps track of your body temperature, the room temperature, and even the weather to adjust the mattress temp accordingly. The results are impressive. Whereas before I zipped the Pod 3 Cover onto my Casper mattress, I'd have one leg hanging out of the covers, trying to stay cool and cozy. With the active cooling grid, I could stay under the covers all night long.
The Eight Sleep press release for the Pod 3 has some pretty big claims, like 34% increase in deep sleep after one week of usage, sleep quality improved by 32%, and HRV increased by 19%. I can't say that I saw any measurable improvements in those statistics since I started using the Pod 3 (comparing this data with the data from my Oura Ring). But then I've also had several external factors make this a difficult sleep month (traveling, illness, etc.).
Chucking all the metrics aside, there is one number that I can unequivocally say has improved over the month that I've been sleeping on the Pod 3.
When I started sleeping on the Pod 3 I would average somewhere between 35 and 25 measurable tosses and turns per night. My movement tracker in the Oura app looks like an EKG. A month of sleeping on the Pod 3 and I'm down to between 7 and 10 trackable movements.
So while the metrics everyone focuses on (HRV, sleep cycle duration) might not support it, it's obvious to me that I'm sleeping more soundly. And more importantly, I feel more rested when I wake up in the morning. I'm still spending too long in bed before falling asleep (watching TV, reading, playing Hearthstone) and I could probably stand to get at least an extra hour of sleep overall (I know all of this because of the copious data that the Eight Sleep app provides). But the sleep I am getting is doing my body more good than the sleep I was getting before I started using the Pod 3 Cover.
Speaking of waking up, the Pod 3 has a handy vibration motor built in that pulses at chest level when it's time to wake up. It'll also gently warm your side of the bed as morning approaches. It's a much more pleasant way to wake up than to a blaring alarm (and harder to ignore, too). Your partner will appreciate it as well if they're on a different sleep schedule.
The Eight Sleep app has a ton of easy-to-read graphs and information to walk you through the various metrics that it collects. For a data junkie like me, it's fascinating. It unfortunately can't keep track of your bedroom environment beyond temperature (like the noise and ambient light sensor of the Google Hub) but you'll still have plenty of data to chew on each morning.
The app also integrates with Peloton, Oura, Garmin, Apple Health, Google Health, Fitbit, Trainingpeaks, Polar, and Zwift so that you can see how your training affects your sleep patterns.
And if you have trouble falling asleep, there's an impressive library of sleep sounds and meditations, plus informational blog posts about sleep and sleep technology. You can also train your pod with a quick morning survey that improves its temperature-regulating performance.
One of the things that's cool (heh) about the Pod 3 Cover is that it's just that, a cover (well, and a hub). You can zip off your old Pod 2 Cover and pick up a Pod 3 Cover to replace it on EightSleep.com. Setup is vastly improved over the previous generation, using Bluetooth to connect to your device and automatically set up the network connection (the Pod 3 has a better, dual-band WiFi chip with 5GHz compatibility for better connectivity). In a few minutes, you'll have a brand new, next-gen mattress.
While current Eight Sleep customers have priority, the Pod 3 Cover is available to everyone, starting at $2,195 for a Full and is available now. If you've been waking up sweaty this summer, this is the solution. Don't wait.