Can a $2,000 smart bed improve your sleep? We put it to the test for 30 nights

Eight Pod
(Image credit: Eight Sleep)

The phrase 'there’s an app for that' fell out of favor a few years ago, but don’t tell that to the folks at Eight Sleep. This company makes high-tech Pod beds that cost $2,195 (about £1,800, AU$3,300), meant for people who want to analyze every aspect of their sleep cycles. 

My most interesting finding is that the Eight Sleep app (available for iPhone and Android) seems purpose-built for me and my wife, who have dramatically different preferences for how a bed should even work and how we like to sleep at night.

I tested the Pod bed for a month, and the most unusual feature is that it hooks up to a tank that disperses water to the bed. You can set the exact temperature, and then decide to cool down or warm up gradually as a way to wake up without using a blaring alarm.

I set my side of the bed for 75°F. My wife likes things a bit toastier, so she set her side to about 85°F. We slept better than when we use our own normal queen-sized bed, and it was cool to experiment with the temperature on various nights.

Sleep fitness

I really liked the app data, though. While the Pod is, in many respects, a typical 'bed in a box' in terms of mattress stiffness, with added temperature settings, it was the high-tech features that impressed me most.

After each night, I was able to glance at a sleep score (how you slept) for either side of the bed. (In truth, my wife hates the idea of using an app to control a bed, so I configured her settings on my phone.)  We typically had scores of around 80 or 85 the first few nights. After tweaking the temp, our scores went up to the mid 90s.

The sleep fitness section of the apps gives you a wealth of data. You can review the total time you slept, when you woke up (what they call wake up consistency), the time it took to fall asleep, and pour over a graph that shows your sleep stages. You can also review trends in your sleep patterns, which looks like something you’d export from Microsoft Excel.

An option called Smart Temp is also interesting. This mode analyzes how you sleep and then adjusts the temp for you. In my tests, the setting (which is located on the main home page) seemed to make minor adjustments. One night I noticed I was a bit too warm and started stirring; the next night the Pod seemed to lower the temp.

Smart, but could be smarter

This isn't actual artificial intelligence, though. What’s happening is that the bed is looking at your sleep fitness and adjusting the temperature to accommodate your sleep patterns. 

In the future, I’d like true AI in beds to learn everything about me. By my definition, for a bed to have true AI it would need to know way more about me -- my weight, age, height, health conditions, and much more. The AI would know enough about me that it would then automatically adjust things like the firmness of the mattress (not possible with the Pod bed, but that is possible on Sleep Number models), angle, temperature, and other factors.

John Brandon

John Brandon has covered gadgets and cars for the past 12 years having published over 12,000 articles and tested nearly 8,000 products. He's nothing if not prolific. Before starting his writing career, he led an Information Design practice at a large consumer electronics retailer in the US. His hobbies include deep sea exploration, complaining about the weather, and engineering a vast multiverse conspiracy.