Sleep tracking is something more and more people are becoming interested in, to this end there are an increasing number of options for people who want to quantify their sleep. Options include simple phone apps, activity trackers with sleep monitoring, devices that watch you sleep from your bedside and an array of mattress-based products.
The Eight Sleep Tracker is a mattress protector that you slip over your existing mattress to give it some smarts. The Eight Sleep Tracker includes sleep sensors to monitor your movement, respiration rate as well as room and bed temperature and an integrated electric blanket for app-controlled sleeping warmness.
I have to admit I’m quite fond of the quantified-self notion of recording and tracking elements of my daily life. Why? I’m not sure, however, rarely is having more data about yourself a bad thing and I have to admit it’s fun to trawl through the data.
Eight Sleep Tracker Hardware
Hardware just seems to be the wrong term for a mattress protector but for obvious reasons software doesn’t work either. Nomenclature aside, the Eight Sleep Tracker, we’ll be calling it the Eight from here on out, comes in Double, Queen King and California King sizes with the all of them supporting monitoring and warming zones for you and a partner.
In the box, you get the mattress protector itself, the eight hub and various product manuals and leaflets. The mattress protector has very generous side panels that easily fitted onto my double-sided Queen pillow-top mattress, I can’t image there would be many mattresses it wouldn’t easily slip over.
The very top of the Eight is a zip off washable cover, this sits atop the sensor platform with all of the necessary wiring and hub access port located in the side skirt. For those worried about sleeping on an uncomfortable sensor, don’t be, I can honestly say I’ve never felt like I was sleeping on anything other than my previous mattress protector. For those who like to sleep on some special sort of mattress thing, you will need the Eight directly beneath the bottom sheet to ensure accurate tracking from the sensors.
The setup process is simple, once the Eight is on the bed and you’ve plugged in the hub to the mattress port you simply pair to the hub, add it to the Wi-Fi network and you’re away. Via the app you are able to assign yourself to a side of the bed as well as invite a partner to set up their own account on the other side.
As we are just heading out of summer into autumn, I haven’t really played with the active warming aspect of the mattress. I did turn it on one morning via the app, which is the only way to activate the warming, and indeed upon my return to the mattress it was warmed. I’m not much of an electric blanket person myself, but my wife is very much looking forward to turning on the warming from downstairs in the middle of winter so she can get into a pre-warmed bed.
Eight Sleep Tracker Software
Once you’ve got the Eight on your mattress the majority of your interaction with it will be via the app from that point on. The app gives you the ability to track your sleep, set your sleep target, use the warming functions as well as several other smart integrations such as an alarm, meditation coaching, IFTTT integration and a few others.
From a sleep monitoring perspective, the eight gives you a daily dashboard showing how much sleep you got along with a timeline view of what events occurred when. The app tracks, room temperature, bed temperature/ your temperature, when you turn, heart rate and respiration rate. From the dashboard, you can click on “View more” where you’ll get more details about your night’s sleep.
You can also switch to a summary view that gives you either a week or 30 day summary of your sleep scores over that period. As you can see I’ve been pulling some erratic hours!
What is the sleep score anyway? What exactly is a sleep score of 88 or 47? According to Eight Sleep Score = hours slept x Toss & Turns. I don’t think that’s the actual algorithm so much as an indication of the factors they are taking into account. In the app they give you some indication of how these factors may affect your night’s score.
Did I find the score accurate? Mostly yes. There are times that I got a low score, due to tossing and turning a lot apparently where I felt I had a great night’s sleep, conversely there weren’t any nights where I woke up feeling awful and had a good score. On average the score was fairly accurate to how I felt, and more important the difference between different scores felt about right for those nights sleep.
I see that as partly being the value, the actually score may be meaningless, however the comparison of the scores against each other did feel valuable, and a run of lower scores would tend to get me to try and get a good night’s sleep. I even used the data to argue for the air conditioner to run a few times where I could show a correlation between no air conditioning and both higher room temps (obviously) and lower sleep scores, thanks Eight!!!
Unfortunately, there are occasions where data goes missing. The first thing to check is that the plug between the Hub and the Eight is secure, my daughter jumping on the bed has dislodged this a few times and I haven’t noticed. Unfortunately, the app doesn’t warn you about the disconnection and I didn’t notice the red glow from the hub under the bed warning on the disconnection.
Other times, the record was just inexplicably missing parts of the data. Typically, this would either be it missed the first few hours of my sleep of the last few hours. I’ve never been able to track down why this happens. I am working with Eight to see if there is an answer. The other data issue I had was when one partner went to bed early it could start the other person’s record off. There’s actually an easy fix to this the app allows you to change your sleeping hours so you can just add on or trim off the missing data.
What good is a smart thing if it doesn’t bring extra smarts? Along with the sleep tracking the Eight lets you automate your electric blanket. You can simply toggle it on, set it on a timer or set up a schedule to automatically control the whole thing. Being the king of app creep that I am I can image a thousand scenarios where you could program the warming function to say kick in between 3 am and 6 am if the outside temperature is below XX degrees and the bed temperature is below YY degrees. The great thing about a software based approach is technically they can add that functionality if enough people want it, that’s the real advantage of “smart things”.
For all of you cold bods out there the Eight has one function you’ll love, away from home warming control. That’s right it’s been a big night on the town and you’re heading home and you want a nice warm bed. Easy open the app turn on your warmer and you’re set. Another cool feature is manually turning on the warming actually just starts a 10-hour timer, meaning you’ll never leave the blanket running all day again.
You’ll notice things like an alarm clock built in, which is just a replicated function you may think until you realise that you can hook Eight up to IFTTT. Now the alarm becomes a “trigger” for anything you want. And if you combine Eight with IFTTT and Stringify then you can automate more than just one thing by having IFTTT set off a more complex Stringify Flow. Maybe turn on the lights, start your music playing and get that coffee brewing?
Yes please. I love the future.
Eight Sleep Tracker Conclusion
Yes, I’m into tracking things, things about myself and the world around me I’d love a connected everything if it existed. So the question is the Eight worth the investment? Simple first question do you want to track your sleep? If the answer is no then obviously it’s not, if the answer is yes I’d say seriously consider it.
The advantage I found to Eight over other solutions I’ve already tried are that firstly it doesn’t need me to “activate it”, i.e. when I go to bed it just notices and starts tracking. Secondly, I don’t notice it, I don’t have to wear anything, have something else on my bedside table or sleep on anything uncomfortable, it just fades away like it’s not even there. Lastly, it doesn’t need charging, many wearable sleep trackers double as other devices and can need charging, this creates an issue remembering when to charge stuff.
Despite my wife’s reservations it even passed the spouse test, while I wouldn’t categorise her as loving it she did, however, install the app and I bet you when she can set the warmer to turn on 10 minutes before she goes to bed in winter she will change her tune!
You may have noticed up until now I haven’t mentioned the cost, that’s because that’s the kicker. Currently, the Eight Sleep Tracker retails for $399 USD, and you’ll have to arrange to have it shipped over here yourself, which cost about another $150 USD. That’s a total of about $550 USD or around $725 AUD. I know that prices this out of the market for many of you. Perhaps if the shipping was more affordable it would be less so, but it is what it is.
If you can afford it however, I have no reservations in recommending it to you. I have loved having the data and if you want an advanced sleep tracker with a little extra functionality and you can afford the price tag then I say go for it.