The Art of Sleeping on a Waterbed

Back in the 70s and 80s, and perhaps early into the 90s, everybody slept in a waterbed.  Or at least, many people wanted a waterbed.  It was the coolest and newest trend circling the Globe.

summer of loveFrom my limited research, it was mostly in the US as waterbeds and came as a result of “The Summer of Love” that was the explosion of 100,000 hippies descending on San Fransisco in 1967-1968 introducing the world to free love, colorful clothes and much more.  Charlie Hall saw an opportunity and launched the water – a sexual and seductive device.

Free love and hippies did also invade Europe, but I do not believe the waterbed became as popular in Europe, mainly due to the high cost.

I do not understand how someone could think that sleeping on a waterbed would be ergonomic and therapeutic!  I’m a lovechild of the early 70s and not made on a traditional bed … I think!

I suppose that people felt it was like sleeping on the ocean and if you strapped conch shells over your ears like headphones, you would drift away with magical mermaids – only to wake up seasick.

During my year as an exchange student in the US, I had the “awesome” opportunity to try sleeping in one of these contraptions.  I never wrote home about it, and here’s why.

Lewiston-Clarkston Valley, 1990

During my high school year in the rural part of the most Western part of Washington state, boarding Idaho, weekdays were spent fixing trucks, shooting squirrels, driving through the fields and baseball … and perhaps shooting some guns again.

Friday nights were spent in Lewiston-Clarkston, WA/ID border, cruising in the low riders while listening to Sir-Mix-A-Lot’s Buttermilk Biscuits and MC Hammer.  Most of the lads had mullets and were chewing tobacco.

A total out of body experience for an innocent Danish teenager, but what an incredible experience that I wouldn’t trade for anything.  it was a blast.

One evening my buddy and I had been invited to this party.  Well, he was invited by this amazing girl called Amber, and her dad was this cool Vietnam veteran.

My buddy and I had informed our respective families that we were camping that weekend and left out the part that we had a party to go to.

This was pre pre pre-mobile phones, so no tracking and no one to call us.  It was based on trust 🙂

Scary fact; I’m older than Google!

As the party at the house progressed and people started to disperse, Amber’s dad offered us the guest room to crash.  Excellent as I was getting rather tired, and had a slight buzz from a few beers I had consumed.

When intoxicated, I normally don’t care about what or where I sleep when I’m tired, but as I opened the door to this tiny guest room, a large square box filled the space.

It was a king-sized waterbed!

Well, there’s a first for everything, and this would be the first time I would paddle in a waterbed, and attempt to do this next to a friend.  Listen, no naughty thoughts or comments, please!

I laid down first and was greeted by waves and gentle rocking.  Not too bad and the water started to calm down a bit.

Suddenly my mate laid down on his side, using an elegant gymnastic jump like a jackrabbit onto the plastic sheet, and a tsunami almost knocked me off the bed.  It went left to right for what felt like an hour.

Each time either of us moved the slightest, another wave started, rocking us from side to side.  At one point, my buddy made a sudden movement, a tiny jump with his body and the wave almost knocked me off the edge.  Thankfully my side was next to the wall, so the wall blocked my fall but bumped me hard into the plasterboard.

If you add a little drunkenness to the equation, you can only imagine how uncomfortable this was.  It was made worse by the fact that there was no sheet covering the plastic, so we were literally stuck to the plastic sheet when the skin touched it.

We laughed uncontrollably for a long time over the slightest movement of the water mattress, only to be surprised by the Vietnam veteran dad standing in the doorway with a flashlight pointing at us.

ramboHe must’ve used his tracking skills learned in the jungles Khe Sanh in ’68 to sneak up on us while carrying his US Army issued Fulton Flashlight.  Not sure if was also carrying his trusted 1911 sidearm.

That certainly made us be very quiet and we fell asleep within seconds.

We slept like fish.  Gently moving with the waves and strangely hovering as if we were on the surface of the Moon.

The next morning I woke up pinned to the wall in an attempt to escape the constant waves and with a strange feeling of seasickness.  No, it was not a hangover.

Perhaps it was also the fact that my mate had turned 90 degrees during the night, stretching his legs towards me, and pushing my into the wall.

I felt as if everything around me was moving.  I had the sensation of being on a boat sailing, moving up/down with the waves.  Very bizarre feeling.

We spent the next couple of hours navigating the house, headed to the local diner for breakfast and drove towards Washington State again, stopping along the way for a bit of squirrel hunting.  We needed solid ground under our feet again.

That day, I swore never to sleep on a waterbed again!

  • Have you slept on a waterbed?
  • What was your experience?
  • Any tips for not getting seasick?

Leave a Reply