Waterbeds, a Brief History

Waterbeds, originally invented in the 19th century, then intended as a medical therapy to prevent bedsores in invalids. The modern version, patented in 1971  in San Francisco , became an extremely popular consumer item in the throughout the 1970s and 1980s.  There exists primarily two types: hard-sided or wooden-framed bed and softsides.



A hard-sided waterbed consists of a water mattress inside a rectangular frame of wood resting on a plywood or OSB deck.  The deck can sit on a simple platform or on a drawer pedestal.






A softside consists of a water mattress inside of a rectangular resilient foam frame  zippered inside a fabric cover, which sits on a foundation that resembles a boxspring. It looks an is sized like a conventional bed; it  is designed to be compatible with standard bedroom furniture. The metal frame or support system in the be is reinforced to bear the additional weight load.






Early mattresses have a single water chamber. This persists in only inexpensive  mattresses today. With no baffles or fiber in these chambers the water in these “free flow” mattresses is disturbed it produces significant wave action.  Early motion reduction was achieved with baffles within the mattress.  This constricted the waters movement and produce some firmness and support. Later types employed  fiber batting. This is the best way to reduce motion in a water mattress as well as add support, especially for the lumbar area.

Waterbeds must be heated. Temperature is set to personal preference.  Even if no additional heat is desired in the mattress, the heater should remain on at a very low setting to discourage condensation.

Waterbeds are the original specialty sleep product.  All of the beds that follow: memory foam and airbeds are based on the benefits of sleeping on water: adjustability, conformability, and pressure reduction.

The Specialty Sleep Association, which began out of the waterbed industry, exists to educate consumers about the benefits of alternative sleep surfaces such as water, memory foam, latex foam, and air.

Sleep On It started as waterbed company.

Originally named The Waterbed Shack, the roots of Sleep On It are firmly embedded in the waterbed industry.   The growing number of specialty sleep products becoming available beginning in the 1990s caused waterbeds to enjoy less popularity.  Before then, if you wanted an alternative sleep surface to an innerspring mattress, water was the only economical, widely available choice.

Though Sleep On It sells all of those alternatives, it still supports waterbeds by selling both new systems and parts, supplies, linens, and accessories for both wooden-framed and softside waterbeds.