I’m a tech editor — the EightSleep temperature-regulating mattress cover is one of the best smart products I’ve ever bought

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National Sleep Week just passed, but it’s a shame that we only dedicate one week of the year to understanding how to get better sleep. Sleep is an important, oft-misunderstood key to our physical and mental health and well-being. Poor quality and insufficient sleep can drain your brain, affect your emotions and can be linked to chronic health conditions. I tried everything to improve my sleep quality — from cutting caffeine to resetting my circadian rhythm — the EightSleep Pod mattress and smart sleep system are what finally made the difference.

A solution to sleeping hot (or cold)

For years, I didn’t worry about what I slept on. Any old mattress and a couple of blankets would work. My wife and I, however, have vastly different sleep temperature preferences. I get cold easily at night, while she’s more of an on-top-of-the-covers-with-a-thin-blanket sleeper. We wanted something comfortable for both of us without needing to pile a heap of loose blankets on the bed.

After weeks of researching, we decided on the EightSleep Pod and mattress smart sleep system. The EightSleep Pod is essentially a smart mattress cover and pad that helps aid sleep by tracking your slumber stats and enabling you to regulate your temperature for a better night’s rest. The tracker is non-invasive and requires nothing but a setup and for you to, well, go to sleep. The temperature regulation is attained by a series of water-filled tubes that can be heated to as warm as 110°F or cooled to as low as 55°F through the app. Impressive, right?

In terms of temperature regulation, the system accomplishes that by dividing your bed into two customizable zones that can be programmed to adjust their individual temperatures at various set times, depending on your sleep needs. If you normally crawl under the covers around 10 p.m., you can tell it to start cooling down or heating up at 9:30 p.m. so the bed is your ideal temperature the moment you crawl into it. If you tend to wake at 3 a.m. with a case of night sweats, you can program your side of the bed to lower its temp at that time, so you can blissfully remain in REM sleep until sunrise.

How the EighSleep Pod works

The smart sleep system works first by tracking your sleep patterns through an accompanying app, to help you better understand how you sleep. The data tracked includes bed temp, room temp, body movements, heart rate and respiratory rate. For the first 12 months of owning the Pod, it will make automatic temperature adjustments to improve your sleep during its aptly named Autopilot program.

The Pod manages the temperature regulation by pumping water through a series of small tubes that lie just beneath the mattress cover. Don’t worry, you can’t feel them — they sink into the mattress and the padding on top of them is enough that you won’t have a “Princess and the Pea” situation.

Each day the app delivers ongoing insights to your phone, to show how your sleep has improved, as well as additional tips for enhancing your sleep overall.

It’s basically like having a certified sleep coach hang out with you every night for the rest of your life — only more scientific and significantly less creepy.

Bonus white noise

One concern we had was that the pump would make too much noise. Though it isn’t silent, the sound is so minimal that neither my wife nor I notice it. It has about the same volume as a ceiling fan: It’s there, but aside from the occasional bubbling sound, it’s more like a white noise machine than anything else.

Maintenance is simple. You’ll receive an alert on your phone when the water level drops too low and needs to be topped off. A capful of hydrogen peroxide in the water is all it takes to prevent mold and algae growth, and you only need to add that every couple of months.

No EightSleep mattress required

Full disclosure: We did opt to buy the EightSleep mattress. You don’t need to buy an EightSleep model like we did, but it is supportive and breathable and has a built-in zipper along its edge for attaching the Pod cover.

If you opt for the Pod system alone, it comes in three styles and one will likely work with the mattress you already have. Both the Pod 2 (an older, less expensive model) and Pod 3 covers fit mattresses between 10 and 11 inches, while the Pod 3 Cover with PerfectFit will fit all bed sizes.

While the queen-sized Pod system runs anywhere from $1,845 to $2,245, the EightSleep Mattress is an extra $1,625 — there’s currently a promo, however, that will save you $100 when you buy the mattress as part of the overall system.

The downside: You need to subscribe to your bed

I’m all about smart features in gadgets, but there is one major, glaring downside to the EightSleep Pod. It requires a subscription for at least the first 12 months to the Autopilot program. There are two versions: the Standard subscription, billed at $180 annually (roughly $15 per month), or the Enhanced version. The latter option is $288 annually, or around $24 per month. When you’re already spending this much on a mattress or mattress cover, that added expense feels unnecessary. That said, it isn’t without its perks.

The built-in sleep tracking of the Autopilot subscription is helpful and really does make a difference in understanding your sleep patterns and how to improve your sleep overall. And it can differentiate between two different people in the bed (although I’m relatively sure having a cat in the bed throws the readings off.)

Another benefit is the vibration alarm, which offers a gentler way of waking up. Your side of the bed begins to vibrate, softly at first, but then more urgently until you can’t ignore it. In addition to the vibration, the Pod has a “thermal wakeup alarm” that triggers a gradual temperature change right before your alarm is set to go off. This mimics the body’s natural wake-up process. It’s fantastic if you’re not a morning person or if you stayed up too late the night before.

The subscription also includes other benefits, like discounts on upgrades and accessories. If you pay for the Enhanced version, you also receive a five-year extended warranty. The standard version only includes a two-year limited warranty.

About that warranty

The pod is well-built and sturdy but accidents do happen and, when you’re playing with water-filled coils, the warranty can definitely be a positive. I’m currently in the process of filing a claim right now, in fact, thanks to a curious cat who shares our bed. Should you switch on the bed and suddenly find your sheets soaked, it’s likely the tubes have been compromised and it’s time to call in that warranty.

EightSleep also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, no questions asked — so you can try out the sleep system before committing entirely.

Better for bed sharing

I’ve noticed a marked improvement in my energy levels since using the EightSleep. I sleep better at night and wake more rested each morning — and I can feel the difference in the quality of my sleep when I travel and am not sleeping on my EightSleep. If you want tech that might actually help you get a better night’s rest, the EightSleep Pod is a great option.

This was an expensive investment, but it’s one that I will continue to use for years to come. And considering how important a good night’s sleep is to mental and physical health, it’s been more than worth every penny.

And if you need a new pillow, too, EightSleep has you covered.