The Pros & Cons of Waterbeds

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Sheet options for a waterbed can be limited.

A waterbed may seem like a novelty item, but water-filled mattresses can be a viable alternative to a traditional mattress. They are usually made from a polyvinyl material but contain a stretchable top layer to make them more comfortable. Many models are equipped with bladders that hold the water to help stabilize the bed and help reduce the risk of leaks. If you are purchasing a waterbed for your home, consider both the pros and cons of its use before making a commitment.


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Pro: Comfort

One of the main advantages of a waterbed is its comfort level. Because the mattress is filled with water, it conforms to your body. A water-filled mattress offers no resistance either, so pressure on the joints is decreased. In many cases, waterbeds also help relax muscles in the spine, providing relief to individuals with back pain.

Pro: Relaxing

Waterbeds provide the sensation of floating on waves, which can be extremely relaxing for many individuals. If you have difficulty falling asleep, the soothing feeling of the water beneath you may actually help you drift off. In addition, the waves can help relax muscles so you almost feel as though you have had a massage after a long day.


Pro: Can Be Heated

During the cold winter months, a waterbed can be heated so you never have to worry about slipping beneath cold sheets. Many waterbeds actually feature adjustable heating systems, so you can select the exact temperature that you prefer for the mattress. In addition to the pleasant warming sensation, the heat from your waterbed can further enhance muscle relaxation and joint pain relief. It also has the added benefit of improving blood circulation.

Pro: Good for Allergies

Because a waterbed mattress is composed of a vinyl material, there are no fibers for dirt, dust and other debris to settle. As a result, waterbeds are ideal for allergy sufferers. A waterbed mattress is also relatively easy to clean, requiring only a cloth and vinyl cleaner to wipe it down. Since the mattress is so easy to clean, dust mites do not have a chance to accumulate either, which can help reduce the incidence of allergic reactions, eczema and asthma as well.


Con: Poor Support

While a waterbed can conform to your body, it offers virtually no support to the joints. As a result, you may begin to experience back pain or numbness after sleeping on a waterbed. The lack of support may strain your neck and shoulders as well.

Con: Leaks

While the vinyl that is used for a waterbed mattress is fairly durable, it easily can be punctured, which can lead to leaks. The damage caused by a waterbed leak can be tremendous, including collapsed floors and ceilings. Using a plastic liner can help alleviate some risk of punctures, but leaks are still fairly common.


Con: Strange Odors

Some waterbeds may develop a strange odor over time. The vinyl that is used in the mattress does have a strong scent, but it usually dissipates after several days. However, not uncommonly bacteria will grow on the mattress given the moist environment and a waterbed's risk of puncture. If bacteria is present, a musty scent may develop. Bacteria that grows on the surface of the mattress, heater pad or liner can be washed away, but those that form on the inside of the mattress are nearly impossible to get rid of, so your waterbed may need to be thrown out.


Con: Difficult to Find Sheets

Hard-sided water beds, which usually feature a vinyl mattress in a wooden frame, do not come in the standard sizes that regular mattresses do. As a result, finding sheets that fit your waterbed can be difficult. Even when you can find sheets that fit, you will likely have limited options, so matching them to the rest of the decor in your bedroom may be difficult.



Jennifer Blair

Based in New York City, Jennifer Blair has been covering all things home and garden since 2001. Her writing has appeared on, World Lifestyle, and House Logic. Blair holds a Bachelor of Arts in Writing Seminars from the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland.