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 may not have provided sufficient spine support, giving sleepers backaches when they got up in the morning. Today’s waterbeds have a new technology that helps to increase back support for sleepers so that they wake up pain-free. Another thing that helps with reducing pain: water heaters. These also help to 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 The “ocean ride” of the 80s has been replaced by a more quiet waterbed mattress that doesn’t mimic the Atlantic Ocean in the middle of a hurricane.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 will only be a little more than if they were on a regular innerspring mattress.
Today’s technology means the mattress (a full, queen or king) can be divided into two separate sides by inserting stiff foam in the middle. This foam deadens the movement of the water on one side when a sleeper shifts position or gets out of bed. Result: The other sleeper doesn’t feel the motions as much. 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 from one side to the other.) With some mattresses, you’ll notice that the mattress stops moving after zero to about 25 seconds.
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 waterbed mattresses, one partner can sleep directly on the water while their partner is sleeping on a standard cushion placed on top of the water cushion that makes the bed feel 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 leather or fabric separated from a layer of water, there are 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 surface is also hygienic—they won’t be bothered by dust mites.
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 will help to soothe the sleeper’s muscles. In the morning, they wake up feeling refreshed, with none of the pain they would normally have felt on a 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 water in 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.
To be fair, if the waterbed mattress has a stiff, hard side, this may make it more difficult for the sleeper to get into or out of the bed.
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.