My sleep habits are abysmal. And I’m not alone. Last year’s YouGov Sleep Study found one in eight Brits (that’s 8.75 million people) sleep less than six hours per night. A quarter use sleeping pills. A third have relied on a nightcap just to unwind. With a global pandemic rolling into the Ukraine war and runaway inflation, it’s little wonder that work stress and money worries are giving 60% of UK adults sleepless nights.
I don’t need a biometric-tracking smart mattress to know that my sleep hygiene and bedtime rituals suck. However, I might just need one to fix them. Enter Eight Sleep, a $162 million-backed, women-founded, New York-based business that is pioneering the next era of sleep tech.
Since 2014, Eight Sleep has amassed a celebrity cult following. Self-help guru Tim Ferris swears by it. Formula 1’s George Russell relies on it. So does Joe Rogan, Kevin Hart, Steve Aoki and Chelsea’s Trevoh Chalobah. But with a price tag of more than £2,000 for a mattress cover, I had a lot of questions.
Can you sleep yourself fitter?
What sets Eight Sleep apart from the Emmas and Simbas of today’s best mattresses is its “Pod” technology, something the company believes transforms an ordinary bed into an advanced health platform capable of fuelling both recovery and performance.
How, you ask? Well, the Pod 3 Cover consists of a computer tower-sized hub that’s connected to the Active Grid – fundamentally a thick top sheet that can be securely fitted to any mattress. The hub, which sits beside your bed, quietly heats and cools water which is then circulated through the grid to regulate the temperature for each user independently, capable of cooling the bed as low
as 12˚C and high as 43˚C. These extremes are a tad unnecessary, even in the depths of
January, but it’s nice to know we can take refuge under the sheets if the boiler packs in.
Undetectable biometric sensors enable the grid to monitor each user’s sleep and health data without the need for a wearable. An accompanying app provides a detailed – arguably overly comprehensive – breakdown of every toss and turn, inhale and exhale, presented as your “sleep fitness score” each morning.
Armed with these insights and an autopilot feature that adjusts the Pod’s thermoregulation settings as it learns what you like, Eight Sleep claims users fall asleep 44 per cent faster, enjoy 34 per cent more restorative deep sleep and improve their heart rate variability (an indicator of stress, illness or insufficient recovery) by 19 per cent.
You can also set the cover to gently rouse you from slumber with chest-level vibration, but
after waking in a panic on the first morning, digging through the covers for what we thought
were our phones’ alarms, we decided to switch this off.
Let’s talk about sleep
Alexandra Zatarain, Eight Sleep’s Co-founder and VP of Brand and Marketing, tells me the sleep fitness score was designed to make it easier for anyone to monitor their sleep performance, while also helping change the conversation around sleep. “We want to help people realise that sleep is an activity with enormous power to improve the quality of the human experience,” she says. “Being ‘sleep fit’ results in a feeling of restoration, elevated energy levels and confidence. It’s a state of overall health and wellbeing fuelled by quality sleep.”
To calculate your score, the Pod reviews your sleep quality (a measure of time in deep and
REM sleep and analysis of resting heart rate, HRV and breath rate). It cross-references this
with your sleep routine (when you go to bed, get up, how long it takes to fall asleep and get
out of bed). Finally, it compares this with your overall time slept.
A biohacker’s dream
With all this biometric tracking technology under the hood, Eight Sleep has been likened to a
mattress-sized Whoop. A biohacker’s dream is how I’d describe it, purpose-built for Silicon
Valley’s techpreneurs bidding to add years – or more likely decades – to their life.
Zatarain admits it’s a fine line, but says you cannot improve what you do not measure.