Is A Water Bed Good For Your Back?

In the past few decades, the waterbed industry has had its fair share of ups and downs—and mostly downs if you narrow down to the last 3 decades.

But its aficionados are buoyed by the recent wave of beds that they tout could knock off the kitschy reputation that these beds once had, and maybe bring them back to the mainstream.

Yes, the waterbed is gearing for a huge comeback in 2018. Charlie Hall, the inventor of the beds and Michael Geraghty, his original business partner, have recently introduced a new version of the beds, dubbed Afloat.

Before you opt for these new versions of the once-groovy emblem of the subversive 1960s and the sexy 1970s, it is important to answer the age-old question: is a waterbed good for your back?

To help you plausibly respond to this question, let’s first look at a few misapprehensions about waterbeds in regards to their potential effects on the back.

Misconception about Waterbeds

One of the top concerns about waterbeds is that they don’t support the back due to inadequate back support, especially in the sacral and lumbar area. This misconception has been rooted in the early years of the waterbed industry when the beds had lesser inner support systems, especially when compared to the coil spring beds.

People were made to believe that prolonged sleeping in waterbeds could lead to frequent back injuries (since they tended to let the lower back sag).

In reality, modern waterbed manufacturers have ensured that the beds are just as supportive as coil spring mattresses.

Today’s waterbeds have been compressed with sturdy box frames as well as with various baffles and barriers to allow for full wave actions, semi-wave actions, and zero-wave actions.

What To Look For In A Good Waterbed Mattress

Buying a bad waterbed can affect your overall wellbeing due to poor sleep hygiene. Remember, you get what you pay for and this applies to buying a waterbed too. Here is what to look for in a good waterbed mattress:


Waterbed mattresses range from very firm to very soft depending on the thickness of the fiber layers and the mattress’s number of layers. A mattress with thicker fibers and more layers is firmer and offers greater lumbar support, especially if you suffer from muscular or back pain.

A firm waterbed mattress will also have very little motion.


A mattress’s waveless rating will tell you how much the mattress will move when you sleep on it. A mattress with a 100% waveless rating has very little motion. This type of mattress contains fiber and water chambers and is best if you are looking for a mattress that moves very little if at all.

Dual or single mattress:

Some mattresses have a single bladder or layer while others have two. A dual mattress costs slightly more but it is a great choice if you and your partner have different sleep behaviors. For example, if you are a more restless sleeper a dual waterbed mattress that has little movement ensures that your partner is unaffected by your tossing and turning.

Softside v. hardside waterbed:

Hardside waterbeds come in a traditional hardwood frame. Many people say that the wooden frame makes it difficult to get in and out of the bed. Softside waterbeds are more modern and look like a regular box-spring mattress. The sides of the bed are made from a soft material and the design makes it easy to get in and out of bed. Whether you choose a hardside or softside waterbed is a matter of taste and depends on whether you want a more modern or traditional-looking bed.

Are Waterbeds Comfortable?

Waterbeds offer the same level of comfort as regular spring-box beds. Many people who sleep on a waterbed for the first time actually end up really liking it.

You might wonder whether sleeping on a waterbed is like sailing in a boat. It is not—sleeping on a waterbed is just like floating on your back but without the feeling of drowning or water splashing on you.

With waterbeds, you do not have to contend with the uncomfortable hot spots and dust mites that are common in regular foam mattresses. To get the most out of a waterbed, you need to invest in a good one in the first place.

Cheap waterbeds that do not offer any lumbar support, move a lot, have a thin layer of fibers, and a low waveless rating can be very uncomfortable and in the end, you will have wasted money thinking that you were saving.

How to Drain a Waterbed

Draining a waterbed involves several steps but with the right tools, you can complete the task in less than two hours.

The two ways on how to drain a waterbed are with a pump, also known as a draining kit, or using the siphoning method, which does not require a pump.

How to Drain a Waterbed with a Pump

The easiest way to drain a waterbed is with a pump. If you do not have the draining kit that came with the bed, you can rent a water pump from your local tools store.

  1. A day before draining, disconnect the waterbed from the heater
  2. Unplug the temperature control unit. This will cause the valve to pop out
  3. Use heavy objects such as books or small pieces of furniture to weigh down the area around the valve. This prevents air bubbles from entering the garden hose, which can make siphoning the water quite difficult.
  4. Connect the pump’s input pipe to the valve and attach a garden hose to the outlet side of the pump.
  5. Ensure that the valve is facing up before turning on the water pump to let more water into the mattress. This pushes air into the garden hose and into the market for easy siphoning.
  6. As water flows into the bed, change the position of the valve to face down, allowing the water to flow at a high speed. The water flowing through the drainpipe will remove water out of the mattress. Depending on the water pressure, this process might take up to two hours.
  7. With the baffles held in place, raise the mattress on one end to allow the remaining water to flow onto the valve and out of the bed.

How to Drain a Waterbed without a Pump

  1. Unplug your waterbed from the heater
  2. Through a window, connect your garden hose to an outdoor faucet.
  3. Turn on the water for about fifteen seconds to push any air bubbles out of the hose and into the mattress to make it easy to siphon the water out of the bed.
  4. Turn the faucet off, disconnect the hose from the faucet, and place the hose on the ground. Through gravity, water from your mattress will flow out through the hose. 

Waterbed Benefits

Generally, modern waterbeds truly contour to your body, allowing pressure to be evenly displaced on the mattress. Ultimately, this ensures that there is less pressure on one section of your back or your joints, which is highly beneficial for your spine health.

Waterbeds can also be slightly heated to therapeutic temperatures, which can go a long way in facilitating healthy blood flow in your spine. This helps oxygenated blood to easily reach certain areas of your spine, keeping them healthy.

Lastly, some modern waterbeds are designed to create small wave effects that can offer your spine benefits similar to a massage. However, people with spinal conditions should avoid full wave action beds as they can cause your back to sink, increasing the risk of misalignment.


Although waterbeds haven’t received universal approval from a wide range of doctors and orthopaedic physicians, opting for the right waterbed may offer a plethora of benefits for your back.

The secret to choosing the right waterbed that’s good for your back is going for designs that include relative firmness to provide adequate support for your back and which aligns to the contours of your body when in sleeping position.

Moreover, go for semi-wave and no-wave waterbeds to avoid sagging effects. Lastly, don’t forget to opt for waterbed options with heating systems to take advantage of the thermal therapeutic features.