As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

What to Expect When Switching from a Waterbed to a Regular Mattress

In the 1980s, almost a quarter of Americans had a waterbed. They were one of the most popular and enjoyable ways to sleep. Mention a waterbed to someone born in the last few decades and they would likely not know what you’re talking about. Waterbeds are up there with rotary phones and leg warmers. What to expect when switching from a waterbed to a regular mattress read on we have you covered.

That said, some people haven’t let go of their waterbed. They love them and do not want to give them up. Slowly but surely, though, they are starting to say goodbye and trying to find the best mattress to suit their needs.

Waterbeds have very little spinal support and can be difficult for consistent sleep. Plus, they need constant maintenance. They were a 70s fad and quickly becoming a relic of the past, particularly since today’s mattress options have so much to offer when it comes to body health and good sleep. For people who love the cushion and feel of a waterbed, though, it’s hard to believe they can find something that feels as cozy and comfortable. And, though they don’t take it lightly, what really pushes them to change is maintenance. These beds are getting older, as are their owners, and more difficult maintenance is necessary.

Next Steps     

If the time has come to let go of your waterbed, you need to figure out what type of mattress is best for you. 

The market has changed a lot since waterbeds were in fashion and you need to know what is on the market so you can understand what to expect. 

To do this, the first thing you have to do is determine your sleep needs. Figuring out what your next mattress should take a bit of research but once you figure it out, you can feel confident in your ability to get a good night’s sleep.

Types Of Mattresses

Memory Foam – Memory foam mattresses offer good support, cushion pressure point, relief and contour to the body for exceptional comfort. When they first hit the market, people thought that these mattresses were hot to sleep on, but new technology has given them ways to keep you cool. These mattresses are good for people who want good support and like to comfortably sink into their bed. 

We recommend: Layla Sleep Copper Infused Mattress 

Latex – These mattresses are made of latex foam and are really good for cooling and comfort. They respond to your body, are super comfortable, and keep you cool. They are good for sleepers who want support and like to feel cool when they sleep. They are not as “huggy” as memory foam so they are a nice midway point between memory foam and coil. 

We recommend: Brooklyn Latex Mattress

Coils – Mattresses with coils are still the most popular mattress that people buy. They are also called innerspring because they use spring coils for support. Technology has changed a lot over the years and now the number of innersprings and how they are used offers a lot more support as well as cooling and spinal alignment all at a reasonable price. These mattresses have good edge support for those who struggle to get in and out of bed. 

We recommend: Beautyrest Silver

Pillow Top – These mattresses are a good all-around pick. They’re called pillow-top because they have a layer of material that is either stuffed into or sewn on as part of the cover. It adds more comfort and support for the sleeper. These mattresses are good for those who like a soft mattress and good support. 

We recommend: Mattress America Pillow Top

Hybrids – These mattresses are exactly what they say. A blend of different types of materials that can include latex, memory foam, coils, and other options. They are specially designed to highlight the benefits of each material while making up for the weaker areas. Hybrid mattresses are great all-around options that cover a lot of ground.

We recommend: Sealy Hybrid

Adjustable – Beds like this are designed to let you change how the mattress is positioned. You can put the feet, head, and shoulders up. Some may offer heat, vibration, or massage as well. These mattresses are really good for people who have medical conditions that need frequent adjustment in bed, older sleepers, and those who snore or have sleep apnea. There are also helpful if a person wants to watch tv or read in bed as it supports the back in a more of a seated position. 

We recommend: Vibe Adjustable Bed


Moving from a waterbed to a regular mattress can affect your budget. While you will need a new frame, unless you’re converting, there is also a lot less maintenance to do. Knowing what you can afford before you shop is important. Less than a decade ago, you could only buy mattresses from a showroom. Now, you can go online and find a wide variety of mattresses with different options and styles. There are a lot of options and so you can still get a good product for a fair price. without the showroom overhead. 

Remember, more expensive does not always mean better. In-store mattresses often have markups of over 300%. Online is much less. If you have a budget of around $1000, you’ll have the luxury end of being able to choose from all kinds of high-quality mattresses. Don’t go too cheap as you may end up with poorer quality, a short mattress life, and possible toxicity due to poor production facilities and regulations. You want your new mattress to last eight to 10 years It’s something you use every night so it is important to invest what you can. If you pay $1000, over 10 years, your mattress only costs about a quarter a day. Not bad for a good night’s sleep.


Moving from a waterbed to a regular mattress is a significant change. Since waterbeds move with you and are soft, you have to spend some time thinking about how firm your new mattress should be. Decide whether you want soft, medium, or firm and then consider your body type, weight, height, and sleeping position. Something important to remember is that support does not mean firm. Support means that the mattress can provide good spinal alignment. Firmness refers to how the mattress feels, soft, hard, or in between. Each is personal preference. Most prefer firmness between four and seven on a zero to 10 scale with ten being the firmest. You can always go to a showroom to try out firmness levels so you have an idea before you buy online.

Sleep Positio

Everyone has their favorite way to lay when they sleep. This is something you should consider when you switching from a waterbed to a regular mattress.

Side Sleepers – Side sleepers tend to move around a lot when they sleep, shifting their arms and legs around to get comfortable. For this type of movement, soft to medium mattresses are best. So aim for a three to six on the firmness range. If you find a soft mattress with good support, it can help pressure points, too. Choose a mattress that fits your body contours and is fairly soft. If it is too firm, it won’t contour well and you may end up with pain in the back, neck, and shoulders. 

We recommend: Purple Mattress

Back – Back sleepers need something that’s more firm. If the new mattress is too soft, back sleepers will feel it in their pressure points and the alignment of their spine will be off so they wake with backaches and strain. A back sleeper should choose something in the range of four to seven when it comes to firmness to make sure they are not dealing with something too soft. A waterbed sleeper may find this a bit firm in comparison but it is a good choice for back health.

We recommend: Casper Sleep Essential

Stomach – Stomach sleepers need support since the torso is receiving most of the pressure on the mattress. They need to be supported throughout the whole body because any sinking bends the back. They should sleep as flat as possible using a low pillow. A firmness level of five to seven is best, maybe even up to an eight.

We recommend: Dynasty Mattress


How much you weigh is important when choosing a new mattress. It affects how much you sink as well as how the mattress feels and how well it cools.

150 pounds and under – Medium feel – These sleepers do not sink much so a firmness of five to seven is good. You may even want to go a little less firm. Dense top layers maybe a little too much so watch how much is on the top of the mattress.

Soft feel – Since a lightweight sleeper will not sink much, no mattress will feel too thick. You shouldn’t have heat or edge issues either. Picking a mattress that is a three to four should work well.

Firm feel – These are mattresses that are at the eight to nine-level and basically let the sleeper lay on top of the bed. There is very little sinkage, cooling, or other issues. They float sleepers, not hug them.

150-200 pounds – Medium feel — This is a good spot because at this weight, you are what the industry deems as average. This range is what the scale is made to so people know what firmness is best. Five to seven is going to be a perfect fit for a medium feel.

Soft feel – These sleepers are similar to the lighter ones. If you are closer to 200 pounds, you may want to look at a mattress with less sinkage. Softness affects this so be aware and sure of how much you want.

Firm feel – See the firm notes for light sleepers. This applies equally to average weight sleepers as well.

200 pounds – People who weigh more and want a medium feel should choose a mattress with a comfort layer thicker than four inches for good support and lots of comfort. You may need a cooler mattress and edge support, too, so make sure you include that in your search. High end innerspring or coil on coil mattresses are good choices.

Soft feel – This is a more difficult mattress to find when you are heavier as you may sink too much into the mattress as it is. Don’t choose something that is too soft and allows for too much sink. You want no less than four inches of comfort foam so look for a mattress that’s 12 inches or more in thickness. You may want to consider pillow tops. They offer good support but tend to feel a little softer.

Firm Feel – Heavier sleepers should move the firmness number up a bit for the right amount of support. So, if you want an eight, go for a nine. You will need to add 0.5 to one more point of firmness. Be careful about going over a 9, though, because they are quite hard and may not be comfortable enough, especially if you’re used to a waterbed.

Final Thoughts on:

What to expect from switching from a waterbed to a regular mattress
If you have decided to transition from a waterbed to a regular mattress, there are lots of things to think about. There are a lot of mattress options out there and knowing what the different factors are can help make the switch from a waterbed to regular mattress a little easier.