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Waterbeds Versus Memory Foam Mattresses
No matter what, you can’t keep a good idea down. The waterbed, with its fill-able vinyl bladder and sturdy, heavy bedframe, was super popular in the 1970s and 1980s. At one point, waterbeds were poised to take over the world, as they made up one our of every four mattresses sold. By the 1990s, waterbeds practically disappeared from the market, with only five percent of sales in the modern day. What happened? Why didn’t the waterbed mattress take off? Why is Canada’s Favorite Mattress is a gel-infused memory foam mattress and not the groovy, wavy waterbed?
Dig deeper, and you find the waterbed has a deep and rich history, spawned from medical technology and the imagination of a science fiction writer. It had hope and potential, but somewhere along the way it didn’t deliver. We dig deep into the waterbed mystery and compare it modern day memory foam mattresses to see how waterbeds took off, and why they sprung a leak and deflated.
Waterbeds and Memory Foam Mattresses: A History
There’s mixed history as to who made the first waterbeds. Was it the Persians of antiquity, using goatskin bladders warmed up by the sun? Or was it by Scottish physician Neil Arnott as a way to prevent bedsores? Some proto-waterbed designs were popular in the 1800s, used by hospital patients.
The modern waterbed was dreamed up by science fiction author Robert A. Heinlein, who envisioned a waterbed with side supports, a water pump, temperature controls, a waterproof box, and even little compartments for storage and lighting. And at the centre a rubber mattress. Inventor Charles Prior Hall made the modern waterbed in 1968, ironically he couldn’t patent the idea because of Heinlein’s detailed description of the waterbed in several of his books. This led to an explosion of imitators building waterbeds based on Charles Hall’s design.
Meanwhile, NASA scientists and engineers were testing various materials for pilot seats. They found a polyurethane foam perfect for the job, called it temper foam, and used this early memory foam in everything from football helmets to memory foam mattresses. Which, oddly enough, was how waterbeds started out, as a solution for bedsores in hospitals.
But while one technology had yet to mature, the other was riding a wave of popularity thanks to a new attitude and outlook. Waterbeds were marketed as the ultimate sexy way to sleep… and do other things… on a bed. By the late 80s waterbeds made up twenty percent of the US mattress market. For a time, the waterbed was king, while the memory foam mattress was relegated to campers, RV’s, and sleepovers.
But how times would change.
Waterbed Advantages and Disadvantages
By the 90s, waterbed stores and waterbed sales literally dried up. What happened?
It wasn’t like waterbeds were terrible to sleep in. Waterbed offer similar support to a traditional coil spring mattress, with advantages such as temperature control to make waterbeds really cozy. But that’s where the advantages end. For many, waterbeds were a pain in their back. Waterbeds don’t always conform the same was as an innerspring mattress or a memory foam mattress. Waterbed mattresses also have a lot of motion transfer, as water movement is really pronounced as you move around. It’s like riding a wave, so for a restless sleeper it could disturb their sleep.
And then there’s the maintenance. Waterbeds, if they spring a leak, needed a vinyl repair kit, patched up like a bicycle tire. If you were too late to fix a leak, the waterbed would make quite a mess, as there were hundreds of gallons of water in each waterbed mattress. Some landlords refused to allow waterbeds on their property! Even if you were allowed, there was the trouble of moving, setting up, and maintaining a waterbed. Waterbeds were made sturdy to accommodate the weight of its water mattress, which meant lots of heavy parts to disassemble and move around. Then there was maintaining a warm temperature. Not only did it take electricity, increasing the sleeper’s electric bill, but it was seriously cold and uncomfortable when the heater stopped working
Meanwhile, memory foam mattresses kept improving. There was better storage and shipping due to their lightness and ability to be shrink wrapped into a box no bigger than a minifridge. Gel-infused memory foam made memory foam mattresses easy to sleep on at night as they kept the sleeper cool all night long. The waterbed’s biggest advantage, being a hostile environment for dust mites and spores, was eroded as the memory foam mattress became more hypoallergenic. While waterbeds were sold in stores in the 80s, the memory foam mattress was popular during the digital age, where ordering a mattress online became the norm.
The Future of Sleep is in the Memory Foam Mattresses
Is there a future for the waterbed? Maybe for novelty, maybe for fun, and it is a good way to sleep, but for the best sleep imaginable nothing beats a gel-infused memory foam mattress. And for the best memory foam mattress to sleep on, nothing beats the O Mattress from Omni Mattress. Three layers of memory foam, including gel-infused memory foam with a supporting layer of luxury memory foam and compression memory foam for support and reduced motion transfer, give a level of comfort a waterbed can’t match. Light, compact, and with free shipping to your door, the O Mattress from Omni Mattress takes minutes to set up, instead of hours of assembly, filling, and warming like a waterbed. And best of all you don’t need a boxspring or a bulky waterbed frame, a simple bedframe will do.
You also have access to the O Powerline for up to $3000 spending limit on your O Mattress purchase, bad credit or no credit at all, you’ll get approved!