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Thanks to advances in water bed mattress technology, you can now find waterbeds in different levels of firmness. However, even “firm” waterbed mattresses don't offer the same degree of support found in an inner spring mattress. Most experts recommend that if you decide to go with a water bed, purchase the firmest water bed mattress you can afford.
A softside waterbed offers a method of adjusting the firmness of water bed mattresses. Softside waterbeds consist of long tubes running the length of the mattress, each filled with water to the desired degree of firmness, so it allows some adjustability to a waterbed. The multiple tubes also mimic the effects of a waveless water bed mattress because there isn't enough room for larger waves to form and propagate.
Reducing wave action inside water bed mattresses is accomplished by using mechanisms to dampen and dissappate the waves cause when you move on a water bed. Fiber fill waterbed mattresses use polyester fibers to add cushioning and reduce wave action. The downside with these water beds is that they tend to soak up water and can be harder to drain, causing additional waterbed maintenance. Another type of waveless water bed mattresses is a hydraulic bed. These use round vinyl coils attached to the bottom of the mattress that fill with water and float just near the surface. When you get into the bed, water is pushed through small ports on these coils, and as a result the motion is dampened.
Whenever you move or refill your water bed mattress, you need to add waterbed conditioner to the water. Normal waterbed maintenance also recommends adding conditioner every six to twelve months. One problem with waterbed mattresses is that the water inside does not circulate well, so in order to get the conditioner to spread throughout the mattress you should agitate it vigorously for about ten minutes. Another trick is to remove about two inches of water, add the conditioner, then refill the mattress. This will help the conditioner circulate throughout the waterbed matress.
Every now and then you need to drain your water bed mattress. Getting the water out can be a problem, but one solution is a cunning little device called an aspirator. This is a small item that screws onto an ordinary household tap. When run the tap water, the flowing water creates a small suction that can be used to drain waterbed mattresses. They are surprisingly effective when used properly, and only cost a few dollars at any hardware or waterbed specialty shop.
The first water beds in the 1970's were little more than large water balloons shaped roughly like a mattress. Sleeping on waterbed mattresses could be very comfortable, but any motion could send waves undulating through the water bed mattress. Some people found this motion soothing. Others got seasick. The need for a waveless water bed mattress has prompted much of the technical improvements in waterbed technology since that time.
If you're not planning to use waterbed mattress pads on your new waterbed, you may want to reconsider your decision. Most waterbed warranties state that they are void if waterbed mattress pads aren't used on the waterbeds. The mattress material can become dry and brittle if it isn't protected properly.
Few people realize how much energy waterbeds use when they are uncovered. You can reduce your energy bill and help conserve resources by using waterbed mattress pads. A waterbed mattress pad can help insulate your waterbed and keep it from cooling down too rapidly.
Waterbed mattress pads come in several styles. While they all protect the top of your waterbed mattress, they do have different features. Before you buy your waterbed mattress pads, you should:
1. Decide whether you need to protect the sides of your waterbed. A standard felt pad with corner straps does not protect the sides or bottom of the mattress, while a fitted pad keeps the top and sides of the mattress protected.
2. Consider your electric bill. A mattress pad with corner straps lets heat escape more rapidly than other models.
3. Think about whether you plan to wash the mattress pad frequently. Felt mattress pads have a tendency to pill up when they are washed, while cotton pads may shrink more rapidly than those made with other materials.
Waterbed mattress pads are used to protect the mattress from becoming dirty or stained. This means that your mattress pad will probably need to be cleaned on occasion. In fact, if you have dust mite allergies, you may plan to wash your mattress pad every few days. To be sure you don't end up with waterbed mattress pads that don't fit properly, read the care instructions before you wash them. Some pads may shrink when washed in hot water or when placed in the dryer.
If you have young children, you should be sure to use a mattress pad on your waterbed. Waterbed mattress pads protect the bed from becoming dirty or stained, but they also serve a more important function. These pads are designed to help protect your waterbed from being ripped or punctured. With all the water in that bed, you certainly don't want to spring a leak.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|