Eight Sleep’s Pod 3 cooling mattress cover is clearly amazing, but it was as frustrating as it was functional


I was ready to love Eight Sleep’s Pod 3

Honestly, I was sold straight away. I’d heard about using a cooling system to regulate your bed’s temperature from my physical therapist — who is still on team Eight Sleep after my “meh” experience — and I was excited about trying the Pod 3 sleep cover on my beloved Casper mattress.

Unfortunately, I found myself getting off the hype train at the first available station, but I’m willing to concede that just because the Pod 3 wasn’t right for me, it might work for you.

What is the Eight Sleep Pod 3 cover?

Touted as the “ultimate sleep fitness machine,” the Pod 3 is the latest generation of Eight Sleep’s Pod that brings dynamic cooling technology into the bedroom to provide your ultimate sleep experience and biometric tracking. 

The way it works is ridiculously cool. The Pod 3 cover is, essentially, the fanciest mattress cover you’ll ever see — and it’s loaded with technology to make thermoregulation a breeze. With temperatures ranging from 55 degrees Fahrenheit to 110 degrees, the Pod 3 uses Temperature Autopilot to set the perfect temperature for you throughout the night in order to support optimal sleep. 

Sounds epic, right? That’s because it is. While the Eight Sleep companion app offers recommendations on the optimal temperatures for each phase of sleep — including bedtime, deep sleep, REM, and wakeup — you’re in complete control. That means you can create a completely customized temperature schedule that matches your personal preferences, and, with dual-zone heating and cooling, both you and your partner can set your own temperature preferences for your side of the bed. 

Beyond that, the Pod 3 also provides you with a hefty amount of biometric tracking. The Pod 3 cover has discreet sensors to help you monitor a whole host of metrics including sleep stages, disturbances, heart rate, heart rate variability, and even respiratory rate…all without a wearable

So why didn’t I like it? Well, I actually did like it, but it was more of a love-hate relationship than anything else.

Setting up the Pod 3 cover was an absolute nightmare

I’m not afraid to admit when I’ve made a mistake, and I definitely made one when it came to setting up the Pod 3 cover because I was woefully unprepared for such a herculean feat. The Pod 3 cover came in three separate boxes which made the trip from the mailroom to my apartment a workout by itself. From there, it only went downhill.

The entire process of setting up the Pod 3 cover was one frustration after another. The packaging wasn’t intuitively designed — I couldn’t even get the bulkiest item out of its box — and it quickly replaced any excitement I had about tackling this project with annoyance. And that was only the boxes. 

Installing the Pod 3 cover was exhausting. Eight Sleep’s website marketed the cover as almost effortless, allowing you to “transform your sleep in five easy steps.” Those five steps, however, glossed over the difficulty of the setup, which — according to the instructions — would take around two to three hours. First, I slipped the encasement over my mattress. This is essentially an ultra-thick fitted sheet, probably designed to protect your mattress, but — despite being 5-foot-10-inches with a love of weightlifting — I could not get it over the corners of my mattress unassisted. 

Eight Sleep’s website also didn’t mention the three adjustable straps as part of their Perfect Fit package, which involved sliding the mattress off the frame (I definitely cheated and did not do that part), hooking two straps to the side of the bed — slipping them under the mattress and hooking them on the other side — and hooking another strap from the head to the foot of the bed. From there, it took both my partner and me to zip on the Pod 3 Active Grid — which was responsible for the thermoregulation and biometric tracking — and pull the three adjustable straps tight around the mattress.

mattress cover and eight sleep pod hub

The separate hub is what powers the Pod 3 cover.
Credit: RJ Andersen / Mashable

The next step involved unboxing and connecting the Pod 3 hub, the brain of the operation, boasting a quad-core CPU as well as 5Ghz WiFi support. The hub was a little bigger than I expected but incredibly high quality. It only took a few minutes to get everything connected using the Eight Sleep companion app, which appears to only be available on iOS, but then I had to “prime” the Pod 3 cover twice by filling the water tank in the Hub with a mixture of water (Eight Sleep recommends using distilled water) and hydrogen peroxide.

Sleeping on the Pod 3 made me feel like Goldilocks, but not in a good way

Here’s the thing. The Pod 3 looks, feels, and works great, but it also works a little too great for my taste. I was thrilled to slip into bed that first night, especially feeling how crisp and cool my sheets were, but — after following the recommendation of setting the mattress to a cooler temperature to aid in deep sleep — I found myself waking up in the middle of the night absolutely freezing. I quickly adjusted the temperature and fell asleep again, but it kept happening.

Every night, I changed the temperature schedule to something new, but I still found myself waking most nights freezing — or occasionally sweating — and I couldn’t seem to find my “happy medium” in between. I was exhausted and frustrated, and it only got marginally better the longer I used it. The Eight Sleep app does tout an Autopilot feature designed to automatically adjust your body temperature to reduce wake-ups, but it was only available with the 8+ Pro membership. Plus, considering the Pod 3 cover already clocks in at a whopping $2,445, adding a $19 per month charge to get a better user experience kinda sucked. 

What I liked about the Pod 3

While this seems like a harsh review, there were things I really liked about the Pod 3 cover. The quality of the product itself was stellar, surprisingly so, and it actually felt worth the hefty price tag. I also loved the GentleRise Alarm feature which gradually increases the temperature on your side of the bed while vibrating softly to wake you up. 

I also loved being able to turn on my Pod 3 cover during the day if I needed to warm up or cool down, especially after a particularly tough workout. Plus — as someone who tends to sleep warmer than my partner — the ability to change my temperature schedule to suit my preferences was ridiculously cool.

The core functionality of the Pod 3 was also amazing. It does heat and cool your mattress to a stellar degree, but the additional bells and whistles weren’t worth it to me.

What I didn’t like about the Pod 3

Obviously, I wrestled with the Pod 3 installation, but other online reviewers didn’t seem to have the same level of difficulty that I did. That being said, the other features of the Pod 3 fell flat in my opinion. The temperature controls were too finicky — even once I landed on a temperature schedule that worked for me, I still felt like my overall sleep quality had tanked. Eventually, I had to return to my normal mattress out of necessity because I was simply too exhausted to keep trying, and I immediately slept better.

I also felt like the sleep fitness elements weren’t great. My first night on the Pod 3 told me my sleep fitness was 100 percent — which definitely didn’t math out considering the number of times I woke up and how groggy I felt — and I couldn’t figure out how to get the app to accurately measure my “time to get up.” 

Plus, the sleep reports didn’t feel as robust or helpful as I’d hoped they’d be, and — while they were certainly data-rich — I didn’t like that you couldn’t get trends or insights without paying for the 8+ Pro membership. The Eight Sleep companion app also hosts a library of sleep tools including meditation, guided breathing practices, nature sounds, and even wake-up/wind-down movement practices. However, once again, these features were all part of the 8+ Pro membership.

Is the Eight Sleep Pod 3 cover worth it? 

If you’re someone who loves optimization, cutting-edge technology, and all things biohacking — and if you have more patience than I do — then absolutely. The Pod 3 would be a great purchase for someone interested in delving deep into sleep fitness and improving their overall sleep quality. It’s clearly got some fantastic functionality and plenty of intuitive features to choose from.

For most people, however, I just don’t see how it could be worth it. The learning curve of the Pod 3 was far too high — much like the price tag — and the performance, while definitely cool, just wasn’t transformative enough for me.

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