What is the Eight Sleep Pod? A guide to Elon Musk's favorite smart mattress system

Eight Sleep Pod Pro smart mattress cover system shown on a grey bedframe in a stylish bedroom overlooking hills
(Image credit: Eight Sleep)

What do Elon Musk, Scarlett Johansson, and NHL'er Sidney Crosby all have in common? They each use the Eight Sleep Pod, a specialized mattress cover that purports to improve sleep and overall health better than any wearable device. But how does the Eight Sleep smart mattress cover work, and is it worth its four-figure price tag?

I'll be testing the company's latest Eight Sleep Pod 3 next month – but while you wait for my in-depth review, here's what you need to know about Eight Sleep smart mattress covers and why many high-profile individuals and regular sleep enthusiasts alike praise them as highly as the best mattresses on the planet right now. We'll be keeping an eye on the Presidents' Day mattress sales for big Eight Sleep price drops too.

What is Eight Sleep?

Eight Sleep is a 'sleep fitness' company founded by CEO Matteo Franceschetti, CTO Massimo Bassi, and VP of Brand & Marketing Alexandra Zatarain. After a successful crowdfunding campaign for its EIGHT: Sleep Tracker & Smart Bed Cover in 2015, Eight Sleep now sells three versions of its tech-loaded Pod Cover along with other accessories to help hack your sleep. 

What is the Eight Sleep Pod?

The Eight Sleep Pod is a cover you put on top of an existing mattress. It comes with a Hub, which serves as the 'brains' of the Pod and is roughly the size of a desktop PC. The Hub even has a quad-core CPU, along with a water reservoir for the Pod's active grid, which helps regulate temperature.

There are two versions: the Pod 2 (formerly known as the Pod Pro) and the Pod 3. Both include internal temperature controls plus sleep and health tracking. However, the Pod 3 supports 5GHz Wi-Fi and has more discreet sensors that are also capable of processing complex biometric data for Eight Sleep's most accurate tracking yet.

A subscription to Eight Sleep Autopilot is required to access the Pod's core features. Plans start at $15 per month and are billed annually. Up to two people can be on an Autopilot plan.

Eight Sleep Pod smart mattress cover in use in a bedroom overlooking a sunny patio

(Image credit: Eight Sleep)

How do Eight Sleep Pod mattress covers work?

The Eight Sleep Pod smart mattress cover works with almost any mattress, although it'll likely work best with Eight Sleep's own five-layer memory foam mattress, which is specially designed to work with the Pod. You can access your sleep metrics with the Eight Sleep app (subscription required.)

Within the Pod cover are sensors to track key sleep and health metrics, along with tubes that pump water throughout the surface to heat or cool your bed. Eight Sleep therefore doesn't recommend using its Pod cover with an adjustable base since the tubes within are delicate and need to remain flat. 

Eight Sleep Pod 2 vs Eight Sleep Pod 3

The Pod 2 and Pod 3 share core features, but the latter boasts improved tech and discreet sensors that provide the most accurate stats possible. Here's a brief rundown of what each Eight Sleep smart mattress cover has to offer:

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Row 0 - Cell 0 Pod 2Pod 3
Dual-Zone Temperature
Sleep & Health Tracking
Vibration & Thermal Alarm
Invisible Sensors
Quad-Core CPU
5Ghz Wi-Fi
Fits All Beds✅ (with PerfectFit)
Starting Price (Queen)$1,895$2,195

Are there extra fees with the Eight Sleep Pod?

To use the Eight Sleep Pod cover, you'll have to subscribe to Autopilot. This gives you access to your sleep and health insights, temperature controls, and thermal and vibrating alarms. Other perks include exclusive discounts on accessories and upgrades. Autopilot costs $15 per month (billed annually at $180). You can share the subscription with your sleeping partner so you both don't have to buy one.

An Enhanced Autopilot subscription costs $24 per month (billed annually at $280) and includes all of the above plus an extended 5-year warranty for your Pod. (The standard warranty is two years.)

What does the Eight Sleep app offer?

The Eight Sleep app provides sleep and health reports for up to two people. This includes your sleep stages, sleep time, heart rate, and heart rate variability (HRV). You can also use the app to set your ideal bedtime, deep sleep, and REM temperatures.

Do you need to buy the Eight Sleep mattress too?

You don't have to buy an Eight Sleep mattress to use a Pod cover, although the brand may argue that it yields the best results since they're made to complement one another. The Eight Sleep mattress is an 11" memory foam bed with five layers and a medium-firm feel. Adding a Pod cover turns it into the ultimate Eight Sleep smart bed.

However, Eight Sleep only has a 30-day return window for its Pod cover, and that appears to extend to its mattress, too. That's a very short amount of time compared to other mattress brands. The average sleep trial is 100 nights, while some brands offer up to a full year to try your new bed at home. Keep this in mind if you're considering an Eight Sleep mattress to go with your pod. 

Who uses the Eight Sleep Pod?

Who uses the Eight Sleep Pod, including Zuckerberg, Musk, and many more famous faces

(Image credit: Eight Sleep)

Among Eight Sleep's biggest fans are 'high-performing individuals' such as Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, Jessica Alba, Scarlett Johansson, Andrew Huberman, Tim Ferriss, Kevin Hart, and Joe Rogan.

Professional athletes also count on Eight Sleep for the restorative sleep they need to perform at a top level. These include NHL forward Sidney Crosby, Olympic swimmer Ryan Murphy, and Formula 1 driver George Russell.

Eight Sleep isn't exclusive to the rich and famous. Just browse through X (Twitter) and you'll find plenty of everyday users thanking their Eight Sleep mattress covers for improving their sleep quality and overall health. 

Should you buy the Eight Sleep Pod?

Buy the Eight Sleep Pod if...

You want detailed sleep stats, minus the wearables: Instead of wearing a watch or ring to bed, the Eight Sleep Pod mattress cover uses sensors to track key vitals and detect trends so you'll know where you need to improve. The Pod 3 has more discreet sensors than previous models for enhanced comfort.

You and your partner steal the covers from each other: Sleep too hot or too cold? The Eight Sleep Pod mattress cover has built-in climate controls. Better yet, it's dual-sided so your partner can make their side as toasty or frigid as they'd like without interrupting your sleep. 

You otherwise like your mattress: The Eight Sleep Pod fits over your existing mattress to make it smarter. There's no need to buy a brand new mattress outright unless you absolutely want to. (Eight Sleep has a memory foam mattress you can purchase alongside the Pod mattress cover if you wish.)

Don't buy the Eight Sleep Pod if...

You want an adjustable smart base: The tubes within the Eight Sleep Pod are delicate and must remain flat if you want them to work properly. On the other hand, you can add an optimized adjustable smart base to the Sleep Number i8 Smart Bed for zero gravity, custom firmness, and climate control. 

You can't justify paying that much for a cover: The least expensive Eight Sleep Pod cover goes for around $1,800 – and that's not accounting for the monthly subscription you'll have to pay to access the Pod's core features. Ultimately, it all adds up so unless price is no object when it comes to your sleep, maybe look into one of the best sleep apps you can get for free instead.

Alison Barretta
Freelance reviewer and writer

Freelance writer and editor Alison is an expert mattress tester for Tom's Guide, and hails from Philadelphia, USA. Alison has reviewed a wide range of mattresses, pillows and other sleep accessories for Tom's Guide, putting the latest hybrid, memory foam and cooling mattresses from Casper, Nectar, Awara, Brooklinen and other leading brands through their paces. Alison has been sharing buying advice and retail news for over a decade. When she isn't reviewing mattresses, other home products or hunting for great deals to save you money, Alison can be found teaching/training in martial arts, fawning over skincare, and indulging in her quarantine-borne hobby: cooking.