Is Sleeping On A Waterbed Bad For Your Spine?

Is Sleeping On a Waterbed Bad for Your Spine?

November 12, 2018
Healthy SleepIn the Bedroom

Waterbeds. If this brings nightmarish images of the 80s to mind, banish them! Today’s waterbeds don’t move as much as their earlier brethren did. Newer technology allows you to change positions without disturbing the sleep of your partner.

This brings to mind back pain. Older waterbeds like free flow mattresses may not have provided sufficient spine support, giving sleepers backaches when they got up in the morning. Today’s waterbeds especially softside varieties have a new technology that help with entry and exiting. They have less motion than regular beds and have increased back support for sleepers so that they wake up virtually pain-free. Another thing that helps with reducing pain: water heaters. These also help to relax tired achy muscles and alleviate pain and stiffness.

Are Today’s Waterbeds Less Sloshy than Waterbeds of the Past?

Yes, they are. The “ocean ride” of the 80s has been replaced by a more quiet waterbed mattress that doesn’t mimic the Atlantic Ocean in the middle of a hurricane.

This also means that, if a waterbed owner shares their bed with a sleeping partner, they aren’t going to be subjected to sudden, unexpected motions that have them feeling like they are in a sailboat in a stiff wind. Even if they don’t share their bed with someone, they don’t have to fear changing position from their back to their side. The motion is so minimal in today’s bed most people agree they feel less disturbance than if they were on a regular innerspring mattress.

Today’s technology means the mattress (a queen or king) can be divided into two separate mattresses. Each side’s support and wave motion is controlled by inserting a wave reduction system that includes fiber and stiff foam especially in the middle where we need it most. This foam deadens the movement of the water when a sleeper shifts position or gets out of bed. Result: The other sleeper doesn’t feel the motion. Even better, waterbed enthusiasts can now choose a mattress that has different attenuations on each side. (Attenuation just means the reduction of the movement of the water with in the chamber and from one side to the other.) There are many options to choose from and some mattresses, you’ll notice that the mattress stops moving after zero seconds why others can take up to 25 seconds to stop moving.

If one partner wants to be closer to the water, they can. Should their partner want to sleep on a conventional mattress without giving up sleeping with their partner, they can. With today’s fluid mattresses, one partner can sleep directly on the water while their partner is sleeping on a standard cushion like a topper placed on top of the water acting as a cushion that makes the bed feel more like a regular bed.

Does the Body Get Full Support in a Waterbed?

Today’s waterbed mattresses do provide full-body support for sleepers. The waterbed acts like water in a pool—it supports the sleeper’s body perfectly, conforming to their body’s shape. Even if the sleeper is heavy or overweight, their body will be gently supported.

Over the life of the waterbed bladder, it will hold its shape, which means the sleeper won’t eventually notice their sleep is interrupted by having to change positions to find a comfortable spot.

In addition, because the person is sleeping on a thin membrane of vinyl with perhaps a fabric encasement or pad (for hardsides and softside waterbeds) to give separation from the vinyl surface, there are virtually no pressure points to cause a sore back, neck or lower back.

The heat emanating from the mattress is soothing, helping their body to relax. Beyond that, the bed’s vinyl surface is also hygienic—they won’t be bothered by dust mites and can easily be cleaned.

Heated Waterbeds Benefit Sore, Stiff Muscles

If the sleeper suffers from a pain condition, such as a bad back, the heated water in the bladder can really soothe a sleeper’s muscles. In the morning, they wake up feeling refreshed, with none of the pain they would normally have felt on a cold conventional mattress.

In the winter, the water heater can be edged up to a higher temperature. If the sleeper keeps their bedroom at a cooler temperature, they will still be able to get to sleep, their muscles will lose their tension and they will experience more restful sleep. During the hot summer months, the heater’s temperature should be turned to a cooler setting. Speaking of warm and cool settings, the annual spending for someone who owns a waterbed will be between $84 and $144.

The Conforming Ability of a Waterbed Means Even Weight Distribution for the Sleeper

The ability of a waterbed’s mattress to conform to a sleeper’s body is unmatched. When they lie down on the mattress, the extra vinyl found in more supportive models allows each sleeper to lay down into the water stopping displacement from one sleeper to another that used to be described as sleeping on the bubble. This not only makes the bed more dreamy for both sleepers, but he water inside of the bladder moves and shifts, to accommodate the shape of their body. Areas such as shoulder blades, shoulders, hips and buttocks when the sleeper is lying on their back are gently supported. When the sleeper shifts to either side, the sides of their hips, shoulders, ribs and arms are supported with no unneeded pressure. If they sleep on their stomach—which is not recommended—their pelvis and chest will be supported.

The water redistributes itself almost completely evenly, giving gentle, consistent support to the sleeper’s pressure points. If any of these pressure points have given the sleeper problems in the past, they will notice they have either greatly reduced or have no pain when they wake up in the morning.

Percentage of People Who Say They Get Relief from Back Pain

Fifteen percent of new waterbed owners report they have less back pain than when they slept on a conventional mattress; in contrast, 9 percent of sleepers report they do experience back pain.

Newer mattresses called softsides make the old problem of getting into or out of the bed much easier than their predecessors the hard side wooden framed waterbed.

A bar graph illustrates the degrees of pain relief and prevention, depending on the type of mattress used. On a waterbed, the amount of pain experienced was reported to be average; on a futon, the sleeper experienced the most pain.

A firm mattress gives good support, but it can’t conform to the sleeper’s body very well. A softer mattress can provide good support and a higher level of conformability for the sleeper—however, bigger people may find they don’t get enough support on a soft mattress.