Ah, the Eighties. Big shoulder pads, yuppies everywhere, Dallas and Dynasty on TV, hair metal bands and water beds featured in every high-end design magazine and in all the cool movies. But are water beds still a viable bedding choice in the 21st century? And are water beds good for you anyway?
Are waterbeds still a thing?
In an era of memory foam mattresses and fancy adjustable beds are water beds still a thing in 2020? The fact is that yes, they are. They are rather different than they were back in the Eighties, but the concept of the water bed is still alive and well, and if you are in the market for a new bed soon may be well worth your consideration.
What’s in a waterbed?
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In the most basic terms, a waterbed is a vinyl mattress that is, as you have guessed correctly, filled with water. Many can be heated, and the amount of water used to fill them will help determine the firmness level when you sleep on it.
The idea of a waterbed is not new and it long pre-dates its Eighties heighday. There is good evidence that the Persians filled goat skins with water to use as a bed all the way back in 3600 BC.
In the Victorian era flat, freestanding baths were covered with India rubber cloth for use by those suffering from back pain and other ailments, so they could benefit from hydrotherapy by sleeping on top of them. They looked very strange, but lots of people swore by them.
The water beds you might be more familiar with – the ones from back in the Eighties – were far more sophisticated, but they still needed to be filled with a hose! 21st century water beds feature water filled channels called bladders instead and are much easier to set up, fill up and maintain.
Some water beds can be used as a stand-alone piece of furniture and others are designed to be placed in a frame. Some can also be heated up, harking back to that 19th century idea we mentioned earlier. None of them look like the water beds from a few decades ago – which is probably a good thing – and many are very stylish as well as very practical.
What are the benefits of a waterbed?
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Those 19th century doctors claimed there were all kinds of health benefits to be reaped from their very crude version of a water bed. And the fact is they were right, there are health benefits to sleeping on a water bed, as well as some very practical ones as well.
Here is a closer look at some of them.
1. Motion isolation
Some people struggle to sleep because there is too much motion transfer when they – or a partner – moves around on the mattress. Many modern water beds are designed to be waveless, which means despite being filled with liquid they move very minimal amount, preventing the motion transfer that can be so bad for your chances of getting a good night’s sleep.
A notable example of this technology in action is the Boyd’s 98% Waveless Waterbed Mattress. Available in several sizes, from Full to King it is a five-layer bed that, in addition to its water layer, also features three layers of memory foam, offering the best that traditional beds and water beds have to offer.
Thanks to its construction this is a great example of a ‘waveless’ waterbed that will stay still when you move – or when your partner moves – in very much the same way as a standard memory foam mattress does.
Boyd’s 98% Waveless Waterbed Mattress
2. Back pain and arthritis relief
If you suffer from any form of chronic pain – back pain, neck pain or general joint pain from arthritis sleeping on a waterbed may prove very therapeutic. By supplying excellent pressure point support your joints are very well-supported when sleeping on a waterbed.
In fact, only a high-end memory foam mattress comes close to a good water bed in this respect.
As most water beds can be heated the pain relief, they offer can be even more effective. Most of us know how well applied heat can be for relieving pain and soreness and these water beds can provide this kind of relief all night.
Suffering from insomnia – difficulty in falling, and staying, asleep can be a lot more than a nuisance it can adversely affect every aspect of your life, including your mental and physical health. Many people find that sleeping on a waterbed is extremely helpful in relieving their insomnia and helping them to get a better night’s sleep.
The lack of motion transfer may be one reason for this, and the pressure point relief another. However, water therapy has been used for centuries to relieve stress and promote relaxation, and it is believed by many that sleeping on a water bed offers the same kind of relief.
[su_quote cite=”Journal of Human Kinetics” url=”https://doi.org/10.2478/hukin-2014-0129″]Immersing the body in water is said to relieve joint pain and muscle injury by counteracting gravity and reducing pressure on a joint or the body as a whole.[/su_quote]
People with allergies are another group who can have a challenging time sleeping on a traditional mattress. Dust and often invisible dust mites and debris can trigger the sneezing and snuffling that accompanies their allergies and keep them awake all night!
As the vinyl that water beds are crafted from is easy to safely wipe clean – and because dust has a harder time adhering to it in the first place – it is less likely that a buildup of dust and other allergens will disturb your sleep.
Water beds share a lot of similarities with memory foam mattresses, but at a fraction of the cost. A new memory foam mattress runs anywhere from $600- $1,500, while you can buy a high-quality waterbed for around $350, making them an excellent choice for those looking for a better bed on a budget.
Do water beds have a weight limit?
Most water bed manufacturers state that their beds can accommodate up to 500-600 lbs safely and comfortably. It is for this reason that a waterbed is often recommended or those who are struggling with obesity, as most standards beds have weight limits that top out at figures much lower than that – around 300-350 lbs. at most.
Are waterbeds good for your back?
Many back-pain sufferers do find that a water bed offers the pain relief and support they often struggle to find. A water bed that offers added support is even better.
The Strobel Organic Waterbed Mattress Hydro-Support is a notable example. It offers all the benefits of a standard waterbed, with an additional layer of supportive material to provide extra pressure point relief and is ridged to enhance the therapeutic effect of the water itself.
The Strobel Organic Waterbed Mattress Hydro-Support
In addition to the great support and pressure point relief offered by a waterbed back pain can be relieved by heating the water in the bed, effectively turning it into a heating pad you can sleep on, and back pain sufferers know how good a heating pad can feel when they are in lots of pain.
In the case of many water beds, like the Strobel Organic Waterbed Mattress Hydro-Support, you can choose where the water is heated though, so that you do not feel too hot.