The waterbed, a truly unique sleeping experience

Aug 12, 2023
Our beds need to be cosy and comfortable, cool in summer and warm in winter. Source: Getty

Ah, the waterbed. What memories are washed up when I remember my encounters with these strange yet wondrous things. Invented in 1968, they became the must-have epitome of comfort and style – all with a suggestion of sexy decadence. 

I was still married when we encountered one on a holiday. It was my first experience. We sort of dived onto it and it was like being in a boat on a stormy sea. It took a while to get my sea legs so to speak, and even though we thought it might be conducive to a few passionate interludes, it was hard to get the rhythm right with so much turbulence. In fact, it sort of shipwrecked our weekend without the kids.

Years later, they came with baffles which kept them more stable and were heated so they were quite a unique and cosy way to sleep. But alas, the weight of all that water was perilous in apartment buildings and they were known to crash through the floor. Also getting a hose up several flights of stairs was problematic. Seeing a hose hanging out of a third-story window was a common sight, and seeing a deflated waterbed bladder in the council pick-up was also common.

However, people persisted. My sister asked me to bring her children for a weekend. The spare room had a water bed. I had to take my cat as she was part of the deal.

But oh, you can imagine what awaited me that night. Freshly showered and in my PJs I climb into my watery bed to find myself sinking into a deep puddle of water. So, deep I could hardly get out, I flailed like a beached whale. My cat had decided to check out my new sleeping place and had jumped on the bed over and over, loving the texture and warmth and sinking her sharp claws in. Oh, dear. One of the kids said she had been bouncing on it. Hmm…

Off to the water bed shop to buy a repair kit, it was like fixing a bike tyre inner tube, but over a vast expanse. I managed to plug up all of the holes, and there were many but its virgin expanse of unsullied rubber was now as blemished as a teenager with a bad case of acne. It went to the tip shortly after. 

Thinking of the funny beds we have loved. The Japanese futon which was so stylish in a minimalist decor but was so hard you needed a chiropractor to whip you back into working order. Then the circular ones with a mirrored ceiling. The vibrating ones. Hmm. Not my style but I do see some very expensive numbers that massage your back, warm up, and tilt to keep you comfortable while reading or sleeping. On my wish list one day maybe.

Our beds need to be cosy and comfortable, cool in summer and warm in winter. Personal taste decides whether we like a soft or firm mattress. Whether it has a topper pad or an electric blanket, a remote control to lift you up or down. Very fancy if you can afford it. As for me, mine is pretty basic, but festooned with a pile of pillows and cushions and nice quality sheets, it’s a place I love to retreat to at night.

Stories that matter
Emails delivered daily
Sign up