It turns out that being a reviewer of sleep tech is a lot like being Goldilocks. Before you ask, yes I do have an unhealthy preoccupation with porridge - salted, not sweet - but that’s not where this already slightly painful analogy is going.
Testing sleep tech is all about whether things are too soft or too hard, too cold or too hot. And the perfect snooze solutions? They sit somewhere in the middle. That much-coveted fairytale sweet spot of just right.
And truthfully, nothing has tested my Goldilocks skills more than the Eight Sleep Pod 3 Cover. It wasn’t going well but it won me over for an eventual happily ever after. So if you’re considering splashing out on this exceptionally expensive water-cooled mattress cover, read on. If you can, err, bear the puns.
- Learn the signs you need a cooling mattress
What is the Eight Sleep Pod 3 Cover?
Simply, the Eight Sleep Pod 3 cover is like a cross between one of the best mattress toppers and a futuristic electric blanket, complete with its own powered base unit. But instead of heated elements, the Pod 3 cover uses ultra thin water pipes across the cover to increase or reduce your temperature. Using the connected Eight Sleep app, you can crank the dial to put yourself on ice, or indeed a low simmer, and then settle down for a night of kip. Like an induction hob, there are ten settings for hot or cold so plenty of options.
But that’s only half of what the Pod 3 is capable of. Due to a veritable sea of biometric trackers built into the cover, it can tell you your heart rate, knows when you fall into unconsciousness, and can use the real time weather and even room temperature to adapt the cover to your needs. Every day on the app, you can see a full biometric breakdown of your previous night’s sleep, complete with graphs of your sleep stages, and your average heart rate; it's like having one of the best sleep trackers built into your bed. There’s even an overall percentage rating for each night, taking into account the length of time asleep, and how long it took for you to get out of bed.
The Pod 3 will also notify you of any detected biometric changes. What’s normally so fascinating about these is just how accurate, if gently accusatory, it can be. ‘Feeling less energised? Your sleeping heart rate was 8% higher than usual last night..’ before helpfully explaining the link between alcohol, caffeine, and a less than restful sleep experience.
But before I had a mattress cover carefully assessing my bad life choices, I had to set it up. And the Pod 3 Cover and I didn’t get off on the best water-cooled foot. In Eight Sleep’s defence, it does say to set up the cover with two people, but when you’ve only got one pair of hands and a king size bed, the process is a difficult one. The cover itself is actually in two parts. One layer that goes directly onto your mattress, and the second active layer that zips on top.
This top layer has a series of intimidating hoses that have to hide down the top of your mattress, before stretching as a thinner hose to the base unit at the side of the bed. Pulling the layers over the mattress was uncomfortably tricky but nothing compared to threading straps under the mattress in both directions. The app did things step by step but the process itself was laborious and painful enough to lose three nails in the process. Insert joke about first world problems regarding installing a £2K bedcover here.
Once the cover was on, the coffee machine sized base unit just needed to be filled with water, and hydrogen peroxide before ‘priming’ for a few hours to fill the bed and get it ready. This base unit is definitely something you'll want to take a look at before you buy. I just slotted it next to the bed but it doesn’t fit underneath any bed frames. It’s also important to note that it does make a noise. I quickly got used to the very low hum but if you require silence to sleep, it won’t be ideal.
As a company, Eight Sleep’s entire messaging is built around improving our sleep to make us healthier and improve our day to day life. The Pod 3 Cover then, with its promise of every night at our perfect temperature, aims to deliver peak Zs without wake ups. My first couple of days with it were unfortunately the complete opposite. The app would tell me it was preheating to my desired temperature, I’d clamber into a warm bed, sigh with happiness at the cosiness, only to wake up a matter of hours later, drenched in sweat and having the worst nightmares of my existence.
This wasn’t right. The global reviews for this thing are stellar. Where was I going wrong? One word. Autopilot. The Pod 3 Cover’s piece de resistance. The ability to track your sleep behaviours and adjust the temperature of the cover accordingly. And, perhaps unsurprisingly, it’s tied to a paid monthly subscription. For £14/$19 a month, the Pod 3 will unlock additional insights and that all important tracking function to adjust the temperature throughout the night. I invested.
Eight weeks of Eight Sleep sleep
And it changed everything. While things were still uncomfortable for a week, as the Pod 3 ‘learned’ my sleep patterns, things got better very quickly. I wasn’t waking up with nightmares any more with the Pod 3 obstinately sticking to one temperature. Instead, the cover started to reduce the temperature as I slept. Every week, things improved. While there were still wake ups - now down to my regular night time activities instead of heat-induced hallucinations - my sleep was becoming more regular.
The vibration function for morning wake ups was suddenly what was rousing me, and even the starting temperature of the bed became more and more accurate. The cold snap in early December sealed the deal. With temperatures of -10C outside my Glasgow tenement, the Pod 3 stepped up with higher heats that made getting into bed my favourite part of the day.
And thankfully Autopilot stepped in to make sure that I wasn’t cooking over the entire night too, adjusting the temperature on the fly to suit my sleep stages. In the morning I would wake up ludicrously cosy, happily cocooned in a perfect warmth. Despite the absurd temperatures outside, I was sleeping better and longer and, most importantly, have continued to do so even after the outside temperatures have increased. I appear to have found my just right. It just took some work.
There are a few extra points to make here too. The Pod 3 has two individual zones so you can create a profile for a partner on the app or they can add their own smartphone and create their own personal microclimate without bothering yours. What this does mean though is that if you tend to sleep alone, you’ll find that the other side of the bed feels very different and you’ll want to stay on one side instead of starfish.
Importantly, this is the winter experience of the Pod 3 Cover. While I tested the cooling function - which is immensely soothing - I didn’t have the bed on cool all night at any point. It’s easy to feel just how incredible this will be in summer though or for anyone struggling to regulate regular sweats. Being able to have differing temperatures for both sides will be especially welcome in these situations as everyone’s desires for hot or cold are so specific.
This is an expensive solution for sleep regulation. Two months of the Pod 3 Cover has resulted in some truly incredible sleep and exceptional cosiness over the winter period, but how much you are willing to pay is going to be a key element here. The monthly charge for what should come as standard feels particularly off but perhaps it’s no different to our existing world of tech subscriptions.
Price and availability
If you’re in the US, the RRPs of the Pod 3 Cover are as follows. The Full will set you back $2,195, the US Queen $2,295, and US King and California King sizes $2,495. In the UK, £2,245 is the RRP for a UK Double, £2,345 for a UK King, and £2,545 for a UK Super King. There are reductions on the Eight Sleep website on the regular discount days like Black Friday so keep an eye out for any sale offers.
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Louise Blain is a writer and presenter specialising in tech, games, and horror entertainment. Thanks to the latter, she needs to avoid nightmares and regularly reviews the latest sleep tech for BBC Scotland, TechRadar and T3. Her specialist subjects include mattresses, weighted blankets, and sleep aids.