Hot or Cold Sleeper? This Mattress has AI to Control Your Temperature: The Eight Sleep Pod Pro

June 30, 2021

Should your mattress be connected to the internet?  Today on the hookup we’re going to take a look at the Eight Sleep Pod Pro and figure out if it can live up to it’s nearly $3000 pricetag and the fact that you have to connect your mattress, to the internet.

Fair warning, this video will probably be very different than the other reviews of the Eight Sleep Pod that you can find on YouTube, which are mostly done by mattress experts and mattress specific channels, but as a brief intro, Eight Sleep’s two main products are the Pod Pro, and Pod Pro cover.  The Pod pro is a full mattress solution with a foam blend base and zip on topper.  The zip on topper contains thin networks of tubes that are used to pump heated or cooled water through the topper to regulate your temperature at night.  The temperature can be customized on each side of the bed and in my testing setting one side to max cool and the other to max heat produced a more than 25 degree difference, pretty impressive.

The pod pro cover is the exact same thing, but you’ll provide your own mattress.  I’ll talk about the  features of this mattress later in the video, but I want to start by talking about the IDEA of connecting your mattress to the internet, a phrase that would have been complete nonsense 10 years ago and still seems a bit ridiculous.

The Eight Sleep Pod Pro had a lot to overcome to win me over.  Not only am I big on locally controlled, cloud free products, which the eight sleep is not, but I’m also a terrible sleeper.  I’m going to do my best to keep positive in this video, because it’s been more than 20 years since I’ve had the quality of sleep that I’m getting on this mattress, and I ultimately support the type of data collection that eight sleep is doing, but we do need to talk about some very questionable decisions Eight Sleep made in the in the implementation of their smart platform and while they have improved significantly over the course of the last 2 years, they still a ways to go.

Lets start with some history: When I first heard about the original Eight Sleep Pod in 2018 I just about spit out my drink when I heard that their mattress came with a monthly fee.  A monthly fee, for a mattress.  I’m happy to report that in 2021 the fees are gone, but for how long?  You see, eight sleep has designed their mattress as a pure IoT device, meaning the mattress and its base station communicate directly with the eight sleep cloud and if I want to change a setting or view my sleep score, I go to the app, which also communicates with the eight cloud, and never directly with the mattress or its base station.  But why and at what cost?

Back in September 2020 home assistant’s creator and lead developer posted this insightful guide about ongoing cloud costs in IoT, where he lays out the three ways a company can pay for its cloud infrastructure:

  • The first way is perhaps the most obvious where the infrastructure costs are passed on directly to the customer as monthly fees. This is usually the least desirable from an end user standpoint and causes the most pushback, worse yet if the user base declines, these subscription fees still may not be enough to cover the cost of the cloud, leading to server shutdown, and product obsolescence.
  • Second, the cost of maintaining a cloud might be built into the product. The problem with this is the longer you own a working device, the less you are helping pay for the cost of the cloud.  Leaving the company with a few options: Either hope that their product dominates the market and can continue enough new sales to keep their cloud functioning, or planned obsolescence, where your device is designed to fail after a specific period of time so you need to buy a new one. It’s worth noting that even though the foam of the Eight Sleep mattress has a 10 year warranty, the topper and base station, the parts that could actually break, only have a two year warranty, which doesn’t instill a lot of confidence.
  • The last option is to pay for the cloud infrastructure by selling user data, or making partnerships with companies to advertise within the eight app, possibly individualized by using your personal data. This strategy is preferred by some users who remain ignorant to the dangers of this type of data collection and is absolutely despised by others including myself.  If you’ve ever heard the phrase “If the product you are using is free, then you are the product”, this is the strategy they are referring to.

But here’s where an important question has to be asked:  Is there EVER a good reason for companies to collect data about you? And my views on that subject are much more liberal.  Collecting data has always been important in science and technology, and machine learning has made it even more so.  Not has technology made data easier to collect and share, but the impact of the data is even more meaningful now that computers can find correlations that are buried within billions of data points.

Previously to gather information about sleep, study participants would have to volunteer to sleep in a foreign bed in an expensive lab with lots of sensors hooked to them, which while helpful adds a significant amount of confounding variables to the data being collected. However by putting sensors in a consumer device inside tens of thousands of households the possibility exists to collect more sleep data in a week than humanity has in the in the previous 50 years of research.  Unfortunately I think lots of people get hung up on data collection as if there is always some evil plot to manipulate your thoughts and buying habits, but data collection doesn’t have to be bad and sometimes it can be revolutionary.

When I spoke to the marketing manager from Eight Sleep on the phone, he really convinced me that Eight Sleep is on the right path.  He said that Eight sleep has two big goals, one immediate goal is to do what he called sleep compression, which basically means sleeping more in less time, or increasing the effectiveness of your sleep by targeting different sleep stages.  The eight sleep pod pro is packed with sensors to monitor your sleep progress and the aim is to figure out how to modify your sleeping environment to direct you from a less effective sleep stage into a better one… more on that later.

Their longer term goal was to use those sensors and data to help diagnose health problems before they happen.  Basically turning your mattress into one of those medical pods from science fiction movies, only on a much more limited scale.  Still, a device where you lay still for 6-10 hours per day can do a lot of data collection, and a world where big data and machine learning are advancing every day, the concept of finding correlations between your sleep patterns and various illnesses is not far fetched.

Are you seeing where all of this is going? The eight sleep needs to be a cloud device, because they need to collect your data. If you didn’t need to connect your eight sleep to the internet for it to function, you probably wouldn’t and then all of that data then becomes unavailable.

It’s been a while since I studied sleep patterns in college, but 20 years ago it was pretty well agreed upon that REM sleep is the most important stage of sleep as far as regenerative and cognitive effects, so the Eight sleep autopilot tries to guide your body into REM often much as possible.  How does it do that? I’m not sure, and it’s possible that they don’t really know either, but the basic answer is machine learning and lots of data.

Does reducing a person’s temperature by a few degrees move them from light sleep into REM? What percentage of the population does it work for, is it more effective for a specific demographic? Height, weight, race, time of night? Eight sleep needs this data not only to the pod pro work better for you, but also to give themselves a competitive advantage in a market that is pretty saturated.

You probably won’t be surprised to hear that the Eight sleep pod can’t currently diagnose any diseases, and the statistics that it gives you are blanketed with warnings about how all people are different and that your statistics can’t be generalized to any standard range… at least not yet.

But the data collected from the mattress isn’t enough and a major part of the eight sleep app focuses on you giving feedback.  You have to help it help you.  It will ask you questions about your last sleep session like was temperature too hot during your REM cycle, which I honestly found pretty impossible to answer since, you know, I was asleep, but I’ll continue to do the best that I can.  The more data they get, the better the eight will be not only helping YOU get a better sleep, but every other eight sleep customer will also benefit, and who knows maybe the entire human race.

But, you don’t want to pay $3000 for something that might work in the future, so the big question is, does it work right now?  And for me, the answer is yes.

Without going into too much detail about my problems, I’m not a good sleeper and I haven’t been for more than twenty years.  For whatever reason I have poor circulation in my feet and when they get cold they are physically incapable of warming themselves back up.  My solution to this problem has been electric heating blankets that I’ve automated in various ways, and overall the solution has worked pretty well other than the fact that they need to be positioned in the perfect place.  Too high and I overheat, and too low and they fall of the bed, so I find myself fiddling with them often.

Lots of people are hot sleepers and will use the eight sleep pod to cool them down at night which it c an definitely do, but my temperature curve, which eight sleep calls the autopilot is always set to positive temperatures.  When I did my initial setup the app told me that “people like me fall asleep best at a +0 temp, and then go to a -1 during the night”, and in the interest of giving science a shot I tried it out and barely slept at all that night feeling like I was freezing to death, but now that I’ve got it dialed in to my personal curve, I literally haven’t slept this well in 20 years.  As I said I’ve I also answered lots of questions in the app about how I slept and who I am, so maybe the next time a “person like me” loads up the eight sleep app it won’t try to freeze them to death on their first night.

A side note: I also have restless leg syndrome which I’ve been able to deal with using a weighted blanked on my feet, and in an attempt to fully commit to this review I tried to remove it on three different occasions and all three times I was miserable and ended up putting it back on the bed within an hour, so if you have a similar problem I can tell you that the Eight sleep pod pro isn’t going to fix it.

Okay, enough about me, lets take a closer look at the mattress.  It’s got this base station filled with water with some hydrogen peroxide to kill any bad stuff and an umbilical cord that connects the topper to the main unit.  The main unit obviously has a pump and equipment to heat and cool the water, but it’s nearly silent, and I’ve never heard it over the sound of our fan.

As I mentioned before the mattress can be set to the arbitrary temperature units of -10 to +10 and I’ve seen other reviews that mention the mattress can go as low as 55 degrees Fahrenheit and as high as 110 degrees.  I wasn’t able to achieve those extremes in my testing, but I can confirm that setting the temperature to -10 is what I would classify as “Way too cold” and +10 is “My insides are cooking”, so I’m not sure that the actual numbers matter all that much.

As mentioned throughout the night your mattress can change temperature to modify your sleep patterns, but it also has a scheduling feature to always have the bed ready for you based on your daily bedtime.  Setting my bedtime for 11pm on weekdays and midnight on weekends, basically means that the bed will be ready for me to sleep any time after about 10:15 on weekdays and 11:15 on weekends, and will remain in it’s initial temperature of +4 until I get into bed.

There are 4 temperatures defined in the Eight Sleep’s autopilot curve: The first is your initial temperature or what you want the bed to feel like when you first get in, the second is your deep sleep, which is generally the first stage of sleep that you fall into at the beginning of the night, and then your REM temperature.  With autopilot enabled the Eight Sleep will tweak these values using your data to provide you with the best night’s sleep.  If you don’t want it to do that you can set it to manual mode and define your own temperatures.

The last temperature you can set is your wake up temperature.  For me, a gradual heating of the bed in the morning will wake me up naturally.  It’s a weird subconscious thing and having the eight sleep for about 2 months I’ve almost forgotten about the setting, and I just naturally wake up around the same time every day without any traditional alarm, just from a few degrees of temperature variation in the mattress.  There’s also the option to have your side of the mattress vibrate either lightly or violently if you would rather wake up that way, but I found even the lightest vibration to be pretty jarring, and it wasn’t necessary for me.  If you have trouble waking up in the morning, I can guarantee you won’t sleep through this setting.

My only gripe about the wake up temperature is that it tends to wake me up too early.  Both my wife and I agreed that we had to set the wake up time at least 15 minutes after when we actually wanted to wake up, because the warming is too effective.  Unfortunately I couldn’t find any setting to change the wake up duration, and it doesn’t appear that it’s part of the machine learning algorithm, but  hopefully this can be fixed in a software update.

And that leads me to my next gripe, as a home automation guy I naturally wanted to use some of the data collected by the mattress for automations in my home.  Each morning the Eight Sleep app give you a sleep report with an overall sleep score using metrics like % of time in each sleep stage, respiratory rate, number of tosses and turns, time to fall asleep, and a ton of other data that it collects. On it’s own this data may be fun to look at, but it isn’t particularly useful.

Unfortunately, Eight sleep has not made it particularly easy to use this data in a meaningful way.  There is an amazon echo skill, where you can ask your devices to read your sleep report, and turn on the Sleep pod’s heating or cooling, but it can’t be used with routines, so there’s no way to automate those functions.  Eight sleep also has an IFTTT channel, but the only actions available are to set the temperature, turn warming on or off, or turn off the alarm.  And the only triggers are pressing a button in the app or using the eight sleep’s wake up alarm.  Things like sleep stage, and most importantly bed occupancy aren’t available in any of those integrations.  Last, even though the main way you interact with your sleep pod is through the iOS app there’s no option to sync the iOS sleep schedule to the Eight App or vice versa, and there is no homekit functionality for the eight sleep pod pro at all.  In my opinion they are missing a huge market segment by having such terrible smart home integration, and no matter how much money they are paying to integrate with IFTTT it’s too much.

For more advanced automators there is a home assistant integration that utilizes cloud polling to get things like sleep stage, sleep score, bed temperature, and bed status, but unfortunately most obviously useful metric to me, bed presence doesn’t seem to work and updates extremely slowly if at all.  Again, these aren’t deal breakers, and hopefully these are all things that can be fixed via software updates, but in my opinion are huge oversights for such a tech savvy company.

So, is the eight sleep pod pro worth $3000?  If you compare it to a high end mattress like one from Casper, you could end up spending well over $2000 for just a mattress without any smart functionality.  So, maybe we should ask the question, is the Eight Sleep Pod pro worth $1000 more than a standard mattress?  And to answer that you need to ask yourself if temperature control is negatively affecting your sleep.  If so, I can attest to the fact that he Eight Sleep Pod Pro has alleviated all of my temperature issues without the fiddling that I used to need to do with a heating pad.

Furthermore, you need to ask yourself if you are okay with the possibility of that smart functionality disappearing.  Eight sleep doesn’t seem like they are going out of business, but if they do and their cloud shuts down your mattress will lose 100% of it’s functionality since everything is done with the app, and the app requires a cloud connection.  I personally believe in and respect what eight is trying to do to revolutionize sleep science and am glad to do my part to contribute data to the swarm, but if you are a privacy at any cost kind of person you should steer clear of the Eight Sleep Pod Pro.

Eight sleep did provide me with this mattress for the purpose of a review, but no other money changed hands and they did not have any editorial input into the video.  All thoughts and opinions are my own, both the positive and the negative stuff.  If this video was helpful for you to decide on whether the Eight Sleep Pod Pro is right for you there’s a referral link and discount code in the description to get $100 off your purchase while supporting my channel.

Thank you so much to my awesome patrons over at patreon for your continued support, and if you’re interested in supporting my channel please check out the links in the description.  If you enjoyed this video please consider subscribing and as always, thanks for watching the hookup.

Check out the Eight Sleep Pod using this link to support my channel:
Use promo code ‘TheHookUp’ for $100 off.

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