SSA Showroom Hosts 34 Exhibitors - Including 6 New Manufacturers and Dozens of New Product Introductions

…not to mention the fresh warm pretzels for buyers as they shop.

The Specialty Sleep Association (SSA) showroom will be booming during this upcoming winter market according to Executive Director Tambra Jones. “We have 34 exhibitors in our showroom for the January market; 6 of whom are brand new. The changes we’ve made in the showroom have allowed for more companies to display products and services and will add to the depth and diversity of offerings to mattress and bedding retailers.” At the last winter market, Jones points out, the SSA had over 500 individual retail buying groups visit the showroom, and she hopes for the same or more at this winter market.

“We have noticed an increase in online e-tailers and big box stores coming through our showroom along with the traditional sleep shops, furniture stores and department stores,” notes Jones. “We see an increasing diversity in both buyers and manufacturing exhibitors.” 

The six new exhibitors at the winter market include, Comfort Supply Co. by CULP, I Love My Pillow, Signature Sleep, Sleep-Ezz, Sleep in Motion and Ultra Comfort America. These new exhibitors bring to the showroom floor a wide spectrum of new sleep products for retail buyers starting with Comfort Supply Co. by CULP® who will showcase their line up of aggressively priced top-of-bed sleep accessories featuring their eLuxury bamboo mattress pad, which they report is the Number 1 selling mattress pad on Amazon®. I Love My Pillow is featuring their updated and colorful packaging along with prototypes of in-store retail displays and samples of possible new pillow style additions.

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When it comes to cutting edge mattress technology designed to allow the sleeper to wake-up restored, Signature Sleep brings to the showroom their new Signature Sleep Reset 12-inch Nanobionic® Pillow-Top Hybrid made with Nextgen bio-functional material.

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Retailers interested in marketing specialty and leisure beds should stop by Sleep-EZZ to learn more about the ALL-IN-ONE adjustable and Power Lift bed. And speaking of unique adjustable features, Sleep in Motion will be introducing their unique specialty adjustable bed that rocks you gently to sleep. This product could change the way many people sleep for many years to come. Finally rounding out the new SSA exhibitors, Ultra Comfort America will be showing their power recliners which are equipped with their patent-pending Eclipse Technology tilting motion that cradles the body allowing for a rejuvenating night’s sleep.

“Many times,” says Jones, “the products and services we feature in our showroom are being presented for the first time in any market. They are brand new to the industry.  Our SSA showroom has been branded ‘an incubator’ for new innovations and technologies over the years. Educating and informing retailers and consumers is a key part of our SSA mission. We continue to serve as a platform for new and emerging companies in the mattress and bedding industry.” 

Returning SSA Showroom exhibitors cover the full gamut of mattress, bedding and sleep related products as well as motion furniture, ergonomic furniture, bed support and foundations, futon covers, top of bed accessories, natural and organic sleep products, smart-beds or app-driven comfort systems, heating and cooling applications and retail store support systems from software to display solutions.  

Retail buyers looking to carry bio-based, natural and / or organic products should stop in to visit Baltica Natural Products, Bio Sleep Concepts, Coolist Sleep Technology, The Futon Shop , Palm Pring Organic Coconut Mattresses and Sleep and Beyond. Baltica will be showcasing their Arcusbeds line of certified natural and organic handmade beds from Europe. Coolist Sleep Technology with their bio-based Coolist foam and unique nanotechnology will display the Coolist Blue, Coolist Silver and Coolist Pink pillows: all designed to be heat dissipating, breathable and temperature independent.

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The Futon Shop will be featuring their 100% Natural Sofas and Loveseats, as well as their mattresses and futons. Customers can choose from natural wool, latex, or coconut fiber – or organic wool, latex and natural coconut fiber with 100% linen and choose from a selection of 100 different fabrics for the cover.

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Sleep and Beyond, manufacturer of organic and natural bedding will be introducing their new myDual® Side Pillow, the ultimate 2 in 1, 100% natural, adjustable and washable dual side pillow, which provides extra support and pressure relief for the neck, shoulders and the spine.

Sleep retailers will find adjustable, ergonomic, heat and cooling control, sleep surface adjustable, medically driven, and Smartbed technologies in the SSA Showroom. ERGOLife, founded on the principle that beds should contour to the requirement of an individual’s spine, will be demonstrating their new ERGOLife iBed , which can be adjusted to provide individually targeted and tailored support to the lumbar area , as well as pressure relieving zones for the shoulders and hips. Controlled by a remote or by a newly introduced app, the iBed contours to each unique individual spinal structure by adjustability and targeted zoning.  Orthex of Canada will be featuring their healthcare inspired Posture Cushions and Posture Pillows, designed to help with back, shoulder, neck and leg pain, as well as sciatica, breathing, digestive and blood-flow issues. 

“AURIA” Bed

“AURIA” Bed

Sleep Research Technologies will demonstrate their “AURIA Climate Controlled Sleep System” delivering cool crisp, clean filtered air so the sleeper no longer experiences heat related discomfort and loss of sleep. The system is designed to give the consumer a perfect night’s sleep. Supernal (Transfer Master Products, Inc.) supporting the “Aging in Place” movement will be presenting their Hi-Low adjustable bed specifically designed with the option to vertically elevate the bed up to 20 inches to assist getting in and out of bed.

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W Silver Products will be highlighting their comprehensive line of adjustable bed bases, bed frames and folding foundations which are made in North America and not subject to the current import tariffs.

Focusing on products and services designed to make the retailer’s business life easier, Select-A-Mat mattress showroom display systems returns to the SSA showroom offering unsurpassed display convenience on the mattress store floor.  Another great service, SmartWerks from Tyler Net will be in the room to take you through their point of sales software program designed to help retailers increase sales, optimize inventory and “make better decisions across the board.” 

Private label, OEM and international import programs are growing in popularity. Long time SSA exhibitor Axiom Sleep Products (formerly known as Rest-Medic) has moved its operation from China to Southeast Asia enabling them the capacity to ship 300 containers a month. Axiom is looking to expand their Original Design and Equipment Manufacturing business with memory foam and hybrid mattresses and sleep products.  Danican, an emerging international private label partner will be presenting their retailer and OEM custom, focused private label programs, which offer container load or less than container load shipping options. They will also be introducing new designs of mattresses, pillows, mattress ticking and packaging designs. One of their new designs will be the Duck feather pillow with the option of either a laser cut or a solid memory foam core. Swiss Bliss Mattress Company will be debuting three new models of Swiss Made sleep products as well as introducing a new mattress cover scheme at the winter market.

Top of bed, pillows, toppers, protectors and all kinds of sleep accessories are on display throughout the showroom.  Bedding Technologies will be featuring their new line of pillows, along with protectors, comforters and bedsheets, as well as their RTA mattress foundation, which can be shipped by UPS.  Royal Heritage, a national leader in the bedding, mattress protection and futon cover industry offers their drop ship program and will showcase their 18 color Solid Collection of futon covers.

A full array of furniture, mattresses, massage chairs, foundations, adjustable bases and a variety of accessories will be shown by SSA veteran exhibitors: Arason Enterprises, Dreamzy Mattress, Electropedic/Body Sense, Grand Rapids Bedding, Innerspace Luxury Products, J P Products, NCFI Polyurethanes, Remarkable Pillow / TMI Molded Foam Tech., U.S. Sleep Products, and uKnead Massage Chairs. 

At this market, the SSA will offer retailers the famous and delicious Aunt Annie’s Pretzels in the showroom handing out fresh, warm pretzels to attendees. “We invite all sleep products retailers to C-1565 on the 15th. Floor in Building C to experience what is new and innovative in the sleep industry, to take in the energy of the room and enjoy our hospitality.  It’s a must-see and fun shopping experience for retailers,” says Jones.

MEMBER SPOTLIGHT: InnoMax Corporation gives us an idea of their journey into and through their success in the specialty sleep category

Longtime SSA Member InnoMax® Corporation, headquartered in Denver, Colorado, is our Member Spotlight feature this month.  We asked them to send us a company summary, and give us an idea of the steps it took to get them where they are today.  Here is their write-up.

Today one of the largest sleep products manufacturers in the industry, InnoMax was originally founded in 1975 as Rocky Mountain Inflate-A-Bed.  InnoMax began its 43 year journey in a very modest fashion. Knowing there was a better way to sleep than on a set of cold steel springs, founder Tom Lavezzi filled his van with basic vinyl air mattresses and began visiting local bedding retailers to promote the idea of air suspension sleep. Early success offered encouragement, but the “butt-seam” construction on the mattresses proved to be less than ideal for daily use. Necessity is the mother of invention, so to keep the airbed business afloat, waterbed sealing technology was used to repair the air mattresses. This quickly led to adding a complete line of waterbed products to the mix, allowing retailers to join in the specialty sleep boom of the 1970’s. With each new challenge, a product design was improved and more new ideas were brought to life. The company name was changed to InnoMax due to the company’s “Maximum Innovation” mission for product evolution and development.

Waterbeds are ALIVE and well at InnoMax

Waterbeds are ALIVE and well at InnoMax

InnoMax was proud to be a part of the early days of the airbed and waterbed revolution. The company moved to larger facilities and expanded production into all aspects of specialty sleep. With the fervor of the waterbed craze, all types of alternative sleep systems were gaining in popularity, including adjustable airbeds. Soon memory foam and natural latex would join the category and then variations of all types were created.

InnoMax decided long ago to get direct feedback from the consumer to offer real time information to help their dealer network successfully promote these non-traditional products. The retail sales associate in a specialty sleep showroom had to have an immense amount of product knowledge and training to help consumers understand the benefits of specialty sleep products. The specialty mattress and bedding sales floor could not simply be a “pick one and we’ll deliver it Saturday” kind of experience. The products were complex and needed to be explained. In order to assist dealers to be better promoters, InnoMax remodeled some warehouse space and created a testing environment called the Retail Laboratory in Denver, armed with market-tested products, sales presentations and marketing strategies. If the innovative products could be effectively sold in a warehouse district far away from high-end malls, then InnoMax was confident the dealers would find success as well. The term “Hard to Find and Tough to Beat” became a marketing slogan for these products and the great benefits and high values offered to the consumer who searched them out.

The Denver Retail Laboratory

The Denver Retail Laboratory

Effective marketing campaigns were also tested in the Laboratory. For instance, to promote a product with a less-than-favorable set of beliefs surrounding it, a new approach was developed. The company replaced the high energy “Mattress Man” advertising with trustworthy local celebrities whose love of flotation sleep broke down the barriers and myths, and paved the way for a whole new generation of consumers eager to enjoy the therapeutic benefits of sleeping on a waterbed. The company created the name “Mud Bed” to alter the perception many consumers had with the term “waterbed”. Customer after customer would enter the showroom asking to see the famous Mud Bed, not really knowing it was a waterbed. Only after the customer had reclined on the bed to enjoy the relaxing massage and video presentation, would the sleep consultant reveal the true identity of what they were experiencing. The looks of shock and ear-to-ear smiles on the consumer reinforced the viability of this sleep option.

Mark Miller, SSA Chairman and InnoMax CEO

Mark Miller, SSA Chairman and InnoMax CEO

Based upon the premise that air and water can be refined to create some of the most comfortable and exciting products produced to date, InnoMax continues to develop both categories. Mark Miller, InnoMax President/CEO and current Specialty Sleep Association Chairman, continues to focus on product innovation.  One example is the InnoMax Waterbed Day Bed, called the Seaside youth bed, with all six drawers facing one side. This design created a new space saving bed that would fit in smaller rooms yet provide ultimate storage and comfort. They introduced Convert-A-Fit linens that wouldn’t come off until you took them off, solving some customer complaints with early waterbeds. Wooden waterbed frames moved over for the InnoMax Frame Free Sponge Bed. The creation of the Drain Hero Waterbed Maintenance Kit brought long term flotation owner’s the benefit of easy mobility with an electric drain pump and all the accessories needed to move a waterbed without hassle. The Convert-A-Bed modular support system allows each side of the bed to be adjusted to the individual sleepers own comfort level with the choice of Memory Cell, Latex, InnoCoils, Fluid or Air suspension. InnoMax’s latest development is the fully assembled Rolled N’ Ready Freedom Air system that allow dealers to drop ship, directly to the consumer, a fully assembled air bed that is plug-and-go instantly.

Many adjustable bed choices

Many adjustable bed choices

Maximum Innovation is still alive and well at InnoMax. The fast paced heyday of the waterbed may be long gone, but the benefits of specialty sleep are very much alive. In their never ending quest to provide sleepers with the best rest of their life, InnoMax continues to usher in specialty sleep products that offer their dealers a competitive advantage with unique selling propositions, and innovative sleep solutions that allow today’s consumers to enjoy the amazing benefits of specialty sleep for a healthier and happier lifestyle.

 It takes a real passion to love an aardvark, but at InnoMax, the idea of being different just means being better.

This is just one of the fun videos you’ll find on the InnoMax site - click above to watch

This is just one of the fun videos you’ll find on the InnoMax site - click above to watch

The Squishiest, Sweetest Sleep

The inventor of the water bed is reprising and updating it for a Casper world.
By Penelope Green for the New York Times Dec. 6, 2018

The original design for the water bed by Charles Hall. Credit via Charles Hall

The original design for the water bed by Charles Hall. Credit via Charles Hall

He used Jell-O and cornstarch at first, but the squashy gunk, poured into a vinyl bladder, was too heavy to move. And it began to stink after a few days. Then he tried water. “Rancid Jell-O Led to First Water Bed,” a newspaper headline proclaimed at the time.

It was 1967, the Summer of Love, and Charles Hall, a student at San Francisco State University, was experimenting with flotation furniture, as he called it then, for an engineering class. (He got an “A.”) The following year, after some tweaks, his eight-foot-square heated “Pleasure Pit” debuted at a gallery on Leavenworth Street, as part of a show called “The Happy Happening.”

Mr. Hall was living in Haight-Ashbury, in an apartment in a listing Victorian that rented for $67. It was August, a slow news cycle, Mr. Hall recalled, and the Pleasure Pit made news around the country.

It was Mr. Hall’s idea that the contraption was both bed and chair, the only piece of furniture you’d ever need. Mattress companies rebuffed him in those early days, as did department stores, so he sold it himself, using his Rambler station wagon to deliver beds to local head shops, a member of Jefferson Airplane, a Smothers brother (he can’t remember which), a nudist colony (which bought two) and, inevitably, Hugh Hefner, who ordered one for the Playboy Mansion, upholstered in green velvet.

“I think it got a lot of use there,” Mr. Hall said. But he himself was no sybarite; he was earnest about his invention’s benefits: how weightlessness contributed to health and well-being. “I was trying to make a better sleep experience,” he said.

Eventually Mr. Hall and a partner found investors, and their company, Innerspace Environments, opened more than 30 stores throughout California. Though Mr. Hall patented his heated, lined version, which he sold on a sturdy redwood frame, there were many, many imitators, offering cheaply made, leak-prone knockoffs for a fraction of the cost. The first “Pleasure Bed,” as Mr. Hall called his model, went for $350.

Mr. Hall remembered one shady seller whose product line also included “orgy butter” and fake theological doctoral degrees. There were rumors of electrocutions, and floors collapsing from the weight of all that water pouring out of defective mattresses (a king-size bed might weigh as much as 2,300 pounds, some newspapers reported); landlords got the jimjams. (In New York City, they remain leery: Most standard leases still contain a “no-water-bed rider,” said Zach Gutierrez, a consultant at Cityrealty.com, which collects real estate data.)

Sweet dreams: Charles Hall, the inventor of the water bed, on an Afloat Water Bed in his home on Bainbridge Island, Wash.  Credit  Ian C. Bates for The New York Times

Sweet dreams: Charles Hall, the inventor of the water bed, on an Afloat Water Bed in his home on Bainbridge Island, Wash. Credit Ian C. Bates for The New York Times

By 1975, Mr. Hall’s company was in bankruptcy, not because of the competition, he said, but rather mismanagement by his investors, and he had moved on to other ventures like solar showers, inflatable kayaks and camping mattresses.

The water bed evolved nonetheless, shaking off its sleazy associations as a lame sexual prop and sight gag. By 1984, Waterbed Magazine fretted that its customers were aging, “edging toward the 40-year old category.” In 1986, according to the Waterbed Manufacturers Association, water bed sales reached nearly $2 billion — between 12 and 15 percent of the American mattress market — and retailers like Waterbed City, based in South Florida, were making millions of dollars.

While Mr. Hall was always touted as the father of the industry, he did not share in those riches, though he continued to advise a number of companies, and to design improvements to the original product, as did others. Gone were the shin-nicking wooden frames, and the early sloshings, as water beds went waveless and mainstream, encased in soft-edged mattress forms that looked just like their coil-filled cousins.

You could buy baby water beds, and suites of water bed furniture, including one wince-making number in dark wood paneling, the “Captain Pedestal,” that looked like a high boy married to a schooner.

By 1991, one of every five mattresses sold was a water bed. That same year, Mr. Hall won a lawsuit against a Taiwanese manufacturer for patent infringement. A jury awarded him $4.8 million, plus interest, which he shared with investors who had chipped in for his legal fees. “It was about the principle of the thing more than anything else,” he said.

‘They Last Forever’

Yet only a few years later, water beds had lost their luster. Traditional mattress companies figured out how to approximate the comforts of a water bed with pillow tops and foam, and most people turned away, though there were stalwarts who clung to their vinyl oddities like gear heads with an eight-track.

Water-bed manufacturers found other markets, like dairy-cow farmers, who had discovered that the soft structures protect their generally prone animals’ joints (dairy cows do their best work lying down). Wistful articles began to appear about the dwindling number of water-bed salesmen, and their loyal, aging customers. Last year, someone started a GoFundMe campaign to buy a bed from a dealer in Tampa, Fla., who was planning to shutter his 46-year-old business, raising $167.

One staunch holdout is Roland Formica, who opened his water-bed business, Odds-N-Ends, just north of Berkeley, Calif., in 1969 (he also sold antiques, leather goods and head shop accouterments). Though he closed his physical storefront in 2016, he continues to sell water beds online, nearly 50 this year, along with parts.

“A lonely soldier,” is how Allen Salkin, a New York Times reporter who had grown up on a water bed (a bar mitzvah present, and it vibrated), described Mr. Formica in a 2003 profile. (Six years ago, Mr. Salkin broke down and bought a water bed from Mr. Formica for his Lower East Side apartment; it is currently for sale, however, since his girlfriend has vetoed its move to their new home in California.)

“If I sell you a bed,” Mr. Formica said the other day, “you’re not going to need another for 10 or 15 years. They last forever. Who the hell would go into a business like that? It’s a predicament.”

On a recent stormy afternoon, Mr. Hall, now 75, sat in the glassy living room of his pristine bungalow on Bainbridge Island, Wash., overlooking Puget Sound and showed off his water-bed scrapbook, a kitschy trove of vintage print media.

There were brochures for Innerspace Environments that promised in purple prose that the water bed, its photo accessorized with the requisite female nude, was “a friend in love with you, beckoning you to grovel in rapturous sensual splendor.” There was a copy of Maxim magazine’s history of sex — “four billion years of quality nookie” — which noted Mr. Hall’s patent application. Playboy’s May 1971 issue showcased his velvet upholstered number, along with a glowing Lucite version made by Bloomingdale’s.

Soft sell: brochures and advertisements from Mr. Hall's collection.  Credit  Ian C. Bates for The New York Times

Soft sell: brochures and advertisements from Mr. Hall's collection. Credit Ian C. Bates for The New York Times

It was the 50th anniversary, more or less, of the water bed’s beginnings, and Mr. Hall, a soft-spoken man in a gray fleece and bluejeans, was newly bullish on his invention, which he has reprised and updated for a Casper world.

Three years ago, two of Mr. Hall’s long-ago colleagues, Keith Koenig of City Furniture (né Waterbed City) and Michael Geraghty, a former water-bed manufacturer whose company was bought by Sealy and who has sent water beds to burn victims in Russia, decided, as Mr. Koenig said, “that it was time. I said to Michael, ‘Get Charlie!’”

Mr. Hall’s next-gen water bed is called Afloat. A queen-size bed costs $1,995 to $2,395, which includes a heater, a kit to fill it up and drain it (a 25-foot hose is included) and a metal frame. A canvas sling helps to heft the deflated mattress around. (An unfilled queen weighs about 40 pounds; with water, it’s about 1,200 pounds. All Afloat beds fall within building-code floor-loading requirements, Mr. Geraghty said, adding that 1,200 pounds is roughly equivalent to six or seven people sitting around your dining room table.)

Since July, Mr. Koenig has been selling Afloats out of three of his South Florida stores to test the market. “The first order was maybe 100,” he said, “and they sold out pretty quickly.”

Next month, Mr. Hall and his colleagues said, you’ll be able to buy Afloat online. They promise a 100-night guarantee with a full refund, as Casper does, and free shipping. Mr. Hall said that he hopes Afloat’s market will be not just aging, achy boomers, but Gen Xers and millennials. “It’s like salmon,” he said. “They’ll return to the place where they were spawned.”

No Critters

And so, to bed.

Mr. Hall, who has spent most of his adult life sleeping on a water bed, lives alone with two Afloats: a dual mattress in his guest room, with side-by-side bladders you can heat or cool to your taste, and a king-size, single-bladder bed in his own room, a lofty extension he built a few years ago.

With 40 patents to his name, Mr. Hall also has houses in California (Sonoma and Santa Barbara) and nine sports cars, including a 1966 E-Type Jaguar Roadster, an Aston Martin, a Ferrari and a silver Mercedes coupe. He has two grown daughters; their mother, Suzanne, died 25 years ago of ovarian cancer. “She was my soul-mate,” he said.

Afloat’s logo on a bed in Mr. Hall’s home.  Credit  Ian C. Bates for The New York Times

Afloat’s logo on a bed in Mr. Hall’s home. Credit Ian C. Bates for The New York Times

Both Afloats looked perfectly normal, set upon low-slung platform beds. Mr. Hall, a collector of post-Mao Chinese art, whose taste runs to West Coast minimalism, had dressed them nicely. I took my shoes off and lay down, as Mr. Hall extolled a water-bed benefit I’d never considered: no critters.

“If you weigh a regular mattress after it’s been used for a few years, it will be heavier than when you bought it,” he said. “That’s because it will be filled with your sweat and skin cells, and the dust mites and bedbugs that feed on them.”

Moving right along, the bed felt great: There was a bit of motion, a kind of floaty up-and-down sensation.

“It’s got full cradling,” Mr. Hall said with pride.

“Two things are better on a water bed,” an early ad once announced. “One of them is sleeping.”

But wasn’t water-bed sex rather a challenge, I wondered, given the instability of the surface?

Mr. Hall blushed. “Because this water bed fills in any open spots, the motion is suppressed substantially,” he said. “The cuddling and position aspects are far better than anything you could imagine.”

I asked about his marketing plan: sex or comfort? “I think for our generation, it’s comfort,” he said. “Maybe sex for the millennials.”

A model atop the “Pleasure Island” water bed designed by Aaron Donner in a photo from 1971.  Credit  Heinz Kluetmeier/The LIFE Images Collection, via Getty Images

A model atop the “Pleasure Island” water bed designed by Aaron Donner in a photo from 1971. Credit Heinz Kluetmeier/The LIFE Images Collection, via Getty Images

In the mid-’70s, David Rockwell, the designer of hotels, hospitals and playgrounds, Broadway shows and a couple of Oscar ceremonies, slept on a water bed in his attic dorm room. He was in architecture school at Syracuse University then, and he chose the bed mostly because it was low and fit the look he was after: He had wrapped his room in red burlap, and the décor included a fish tank, a butterfly chair and a pair of Mexican huaraches.

“A bed that comes with its own climate is interesting,” Mr. Rockwell said in a phone interview, noting Afloat’s temperature control. “A microclimate! When it’s hot, you want an ice-cold drink. There is something kind of fabulous about being able to cool or heat the mattress. In a hotel context, I don’t know if it checks the box of dependable and affordable. It certainly checks the box of being different and quirky.”

There are still fortunes to be made in the bedroom. Mattresses are a $15 billion industry, according to Furniture Today, a trade publication. Last week, as it happened, David Perry, Furniture Today’s mattress editor, was in Orlando, Fla., for a conference, and he and his colleagues spent an afternoon at a City Furniture there, rolling around on the new water beds. He took notes.

“One retailer said, ‘The ’80s are calling, they want their water bed back.’” Mr. Perry told me. “Another said, ‘This is retro, and how hot is retro right now? Vinyl records are back, why not water beds?’”

“Obviously I’ve laid down on maybe thousands of beds over the last 30 years,” Mr. Perry continued. “These felt great. You could feel the water. You’re literally rocking in the water. That might be a ‘love it or hate it’ feeling. They harken back to the glory days of water beds, but modern technology makes them more comfortable than the water beds of yesteryear. These are positioned as premium products, a smart move, as consumers really want better sleep, not cheaper sleep. I think the timing is fantastic. Water beds were the original disrupters. They used to call inner springs ‘dead beds.’”

Warren Shoulberg, a retailing journalist and consultant to the home furnishings industry, also thinks the time is ripe for the return of this aqueous sleep aid.

“This generation doesn’t have the association that water beds eventually got as a place where lonely single men slept, in hopes of luring young ladies into their homes,” Mr. Shoulberg said. “The other thing is that consumers have no idea what’s inside most mattresses. It’s all gobbledygook. It’s this great mystery, and the industry loves it that way. It thrives on that confusion. The water bed is simple. It’s a big bag that holds water.”

Penelope Green is a reporter for Styles. She has been a reporter for the Home section, editor of Styles of The Times — an early iteration of Styles — and a story editor at the Times magazine. @greenpnyt • Facebook

Sleeping Well in the Age of Stress

By Bridget Cassidy, September 25, 2018, for Consumer Advocate

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It’s 3:00 a.m. and you’re wide awake.

In six hours you’re going to give the biggest presentation of your career. That is, after you get your kids out of bed, dressed, and off to school. Oh, right. You have to drop your husband at the airport. What else? You start your to-do list. Did you pay your water bill? What about the kids’ camp fees? Did you buy cereal yesterday?

Stop! If only you could nod off. You close your eyes, hoping that action in itself stops the wheels in your brain from turning. Suddenly, you hear a drip of water. Your tired mind turns toward the leaky bathroom faucet.

Drip.
Drip.
Pause. Wait for it.
Drip.

We’ve all been there right? It’s terrible. On the other hand, we know what a big night of sleep can do for you. Our energy levels reset, allowing us to invite new possibilities into our lives. There’s nothing like it, especially when you can get the big sleep every night.

Unfortunately, many of us are not getting enough sleep. The American Sleep Association estimates that as many as 70 million adults in the United States could suffer from some kind of sleep disorder that either shortens the duration of their sleep or makes them wake up unrested.

Sleep deprivation can have several different causes, including health conditions, lifestyle choices, and stress. Stress is a big one. There are now different treatment options based on scientific research available for various sleep disorders. Sleep hygiene, for instance, suggests establishing a bedtime routine and schedule, and adopting other good sleep habits could improve the incidence of sleep disorders like insomnia. Bear in mind, however, that sleep hygiene alone may not be enough to treat such conditions.

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We Learned From The Best

We wanted to find out more about the world of sleep and how it regenerates our bodies, as well as the common causes of sleep deprivation and available treatment options. So we spoke to a leading expert in the field of sleep medicine.

Dr. Rohit Budhiraja is an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, the director of Brigham and Women's Hospital's sleep clinic, and a faculty member in Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders and Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine in Boston, MA.

Budhiraja’s main field of study is sleep apnea and other sleep-related breathing disorders. However, he was able to go over everything from how sleep helps regenerate the body and mind. He also explained how temperature, light, and calming (what he calls TLC) is so important to get a good night’s sleep. “On average, most people need seven or eight hours of sleep,” says Budhiraja.

Let us share what we learned with you, starting with the basics.

What is Sleep?

Animals as small as the honeybee and as large as the blue whale fall asleep every day and perform noticeably better when well-rested. But what exactly causes us to feel sleepy and doze off? And how did most of the animal kingdom evolve the need for sleep in the first place?

Here’s the succinct definition of sleep taken from the Merriam-Webster Medical Dictionary, “...the natural periodic suspension of consciousness during which the powers of the body are restored.”

There is evidence that sleep was handed down to most animals from a common ancestor nearly 700 million years ago. According to a New York Times profile on a 2014 study, “our nightly slumbers evolved from the rise and fall of our tiny oceangoing ancestors, as they swam up to the surface of the sea at twilight and then sank in a sleepy fall through the night.”

There are many reasons why this adaptation evolved. For one, it’s possible that sleep is meant to keep animals inactive at times when they were unlikely to find food and when their predators were most active. Sleep also affords the benefit of repairing and restoring the body, which allows animals to avoid predators more effectively and find food in their waking hours. Take a look at honeybees, which perform a “waggle dance” to tell other bees where food can be found. When bees are sleep-deprived, their dance is not as precise, making it more difficult for other bees to follow their directions.

35.2% of adults 18 and older report sleeping less than 7 hours every night.
- Center for Disease Control (CDC)

“Some historians and researchers believe that, centuries ago, humans followed biphasic or polyphasic schedules,” says Budhiraja. Biphasic sleep is when someone sleeps two separate times during a 24-hour period whereas polyphasic sleep is when someone sleeps multiple times (more than twice) in a 24-hour period. “Industrial Revolution and artificial lighting may have forced people to adopt monophasic schedules.” He went on to clarify that there is little evidence to suggest a polyphasic schedule is a good idea. As for biphasic sleep, there are several countries and cultures which still practice an afternoon nap or ‘siesta’. 

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While the exact mechanism for how sleep happens in humans is still unclear, the broad strokes are these: the hypothalamus generates the circadian rhythm—the inner clock that says we should sleep at night and be awake during the day—and triggers the release of melatonin, a compound that signals to our brain when we should be asleep.

Meanwhile, as our brain works hard during the day, another compound called adenosine is released by astrocytes. Adenosine accumulates in the brain and eventually reaches levels that trigger drowsiness. Melatonin and adenosine work together—and sometimes independently—to make us feel tired and crave sleep. When we’re asleep, adenosine levels decrease while melatonin stays high. When the circadian rhythm says it’s time to wake up, melatonin decreases and we become alert.

Why We Sleep

Memories

We know much more about why humans need sleep than other animals. One of the benefits humans get from sleep is the consolidation of memories. When we’re awake, we’re receiving sensory input from the things we see, hear, feel, and our brain forms connections between what is happening to us in real time and what we remember. According to Budhiraja, when we fall asleep our brains work on reclassifying the information we received during the day and cataloging our memories.

Much like a librarian takes the books in the return cart and places them in the correct shelf, the brain sorts through the events of the day and classifies the information into new areas. Not only does the brain place the information in the correct areas during sleep, it also removes unnecessary information by getting rid of those superfluous neural connections.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep, And I have promises to keep, But neither the woods nor those promises Are as important as some restorative sleep. - Dr. Budhiraja's variation on Robert Frost's poem

Restoration

Another reason we need sleep is to restore our bodies. “During sleep,” says Budhiraja, “our bodies relax and muscle tone decreases.” And when our muscles relax, the damaged tissue regenerates more efficiently. That’s why a good night’s sleep feels so good after an exhausting workout session.

Budhiraja goes on to explain that research points towards REM (rapid-eye-movement) sleep as the stage where much of the muscle recovery and memory consolidation happens. REM sleep—also called Stage R—is characterized by being the stage at which we dream. Typically, REM sleep happens 90 minutes after we first fall asleep.

First, we cycle through non-REM (NREM) stages of sleep—N1, N2, and N3—which bring us deeper and deeper into rest as our brain activity slows down. Once the REM stage is over, the cycle from stage N1 to stage R restarts, in a repetitive process that lasts approximately 90 minutes and happens multiple times per night.

“Your genes decide if you’re a 6-hour sleeper or a 9-hour sleeper,” says Budhiraja. Though doctors do recommend getting between 7 and 8 hours of sleep every night, there is no one-size-fits-all answer.

The body loses its rhythm without a fixed sleep and wake-up schedule.
-Dr. Rohit Budhiraja 

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Common Sleep Disorders

Though there are dozens of sleep disorders, as listed by the third edition of the International Classification of Sleep Disorders (ICSD-3), below we will discuss the three most common sleep disorders: insomnia, sleep apnea, and restless leg syndrome.

Insomnia

An individual is said to suffer from insomnia if they have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep throughout the night, if they wake up too early in the morning, or if the sleep they have is non-restorative. Almost 60 million Americans suffer from insomnia every year.

While primary insomnia—that is, insomnia that doesn’t appear to be caused by another disorder—is a problem for many people, in most cases, it is caused by or appears alongside a wide range of conditions, such as depression, heart disease, diabetes, and chronic pain. 

Dr. Rohit Budhiraja with patient

Dr. Rohit Budhiraja with patient

Treatments for Insomnia Bad habits or poor lifestyle choices are some of the main causes of insomnia. Stress, no bedtime routine, irregular work schedules, and side effects from prescription medications can be the primary causes of this sleep disorder.

Sleep Hygiene is a collection of lifestyle changes that can improve sleep. These include: establishing a bedtime routine, eliminating the consumption of caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, and certain foods close to your bedtime, getting regular exercise and losing weight, limiting daytime nap times to 30 minutes, creating a welcoming sleep environment, and getting a lot of natural light during the day. 

If you continue to suffer from insomnia, other treatments include cognitive therapy such as light therapy or relaxation techniques. Finally, prescription or over-the-counter sleep medications can help you get to sleep but may also bring on other side effects.

One in three over 30 year olds have sleep apnea.

– Dr. Rohit Budhiraja

Sleep Apnea

Budhiraja then discussed sleep apnea. About one in three people over the age of 30 may have some degree of sleep apnea, with 13% of men and 6% of women having moderate to severe sleep-disordered breathing. “During an apnea episode, the muscles at the back of the throat and the tongue block the airway, causing the sleeper to stop breathing for seconds at a time,” says Budhiraja.

The Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School reports obstructive sleep apnea, which is the most common type of sleep apnea, raises your heart rate and increases your blood pressure, putting stress on your heart.

One of the most notable symptoms of OSA is snoring. “It’s extremely rare for this condition to be fatal,”says Budhiraja. However, OSA is related to a host of other issues, such as high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, heart attacks, stroke, increased traffic accidents, depression, anxiety, and, of course, insomnia. Treating sleep apnea, affirms Budhiraja, can alleviate the symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Treatments for OSA The treatments for mild cases of sleep apnea focus more on making lifestyle changes that may be interrupting your sleep. These include losing weight (if you are obese or overweight), exercising on a regular basis, reducing alcohol consumption (if not stopping altogether), and quitting smoking. Other suggested treatments include changing your sleep position and using a nasal decongestant or allergy medication. The most common treatment for severe OSA is continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy, prescribed by your physician. The CPAP machine facilitates the constant flow of air into your throat so your airway remains open while you sleep.

Restless Leg Syndrome

The third sleep disorder is Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) that frequently disrupts sleep and affects 2-15% of the population. Sufferers describe an unpleasant and sometimes painful tingling or cramping sensation in the legs when resting or falling asleep at night. Moving the legs alleviates the symptoms but they quickly return when the movement stops.

The pain and discomfort often keeps people from sleeping at night. Researchers are still investigating what causes RLS, but there may be a link to iron deficiency, diabetes, high blood pressure, and ADHD, among other conditions. “Some types of antidepressants may also cause RLS,” says Budhiraja. 

Treatments for RLS 

Budhiraja recommends massaging your legs, taking a warm bath or shower, and doing light exercise and stretching to relieve the symptoms. More strenuous exercise, however, can worsen RLS symptoms and sleep quality, and should be avoided within 5-6 hours of bedtime. He also recommends making certain lifestyle changes including the elimination of caffeine, alcohol, and smoking cigarettes from your daily routine.

There are prescription medications available to treat RLS. One class of such medications are dopamine agonists that mimic the neurotransmitter, dopamine, in the brain. 

Sleep Deprivation in Adults

In 2014, the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) classified sleep deprivation as an epidemic in the United States with more than 70 million adults currently suffering from the condition. That’s one third of the U.S. adult population.

Groups with the highest percentage of sleep deprivation are Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders at 46.3% and Blacks at 45.8% then Asians at 37.5%, Hispanics at 34.5%, and Whites at 33.4%.

- CDC

Sleep deprivation can affect all aspects of our lives, and some effects are much more serious than simply nodding off at work or being irritable. For one, there is evidence that losing sleep regularly is associated with chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure.

According to the CDC, heart attack, coronary heart disease, stroke, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cancer, arthritis, depression, chronic kidney disease, and diabetes occurrences were higher in U.S. adults who suffer from sleep deprivation or what CDC calls “Short Sleep Duration,” which is less than 7 hours of sleep per night.

Recently, John Hopkins published an infographic with four categories of effects of sleep deprivation. They are: weight, health, brain effects, and safety. For instance, did you know the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes is three times as high for those who are chronically sleep deprived?

Health & Weight

Some study findings show that lack of sleep doubled the risk of death from all causes including cardiovascular disease.

You are also more at risk for obesity due to the hormonal imbalance introduced by sleep deprivation. You crave sweet, salty, and starchy foods because you have higher levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin and lower levels of leptin, the appetite-control hormone. Sleep deprivation can also affect your brain. You have a 33% higher risk for dementia if you suffer from lack of sleep.

Safety

Sleeplessness is also connected to other severe consequences. It is estimated that drowsy driving causes 1,550 deaths and 40,000 injuries annually in the United States.

There is even evidence that sleep deprivation may make you less empathetic.

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Lack of Sleep in Kids and Young Adults

The Little One is Tired

According to the Children’s Sleep Apnea Association, an estimated 1 to 4% of children suffer from sleep apnea, including kids between the ages of 2 and 8 years old. It is a common belief that children will eventually grow out of pediatric sleep disorders, but new evidence suggests that may not be the case. Studies have shown sleep apnea is linked to childhood obesity, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and cognitive functioning ability.

Some mommy bloggers made suggestions on how to establish and keep an ongoing bedtime routine with your youngsters. Most bloggers agree you should stick with a nightly schedule and sleep hygiene routine that includes taking a bath, brushing teeth, cleaning the bedroom, and dimming the lights.

We start our routine at 7:30 pm. I don’t like to rush them, so I try to get them to relax and wind down at least an hour before the desired bedtime...my kids take a bath or shower, have a snack (no chocolate or sweets!), brush their teeth, read, and then it’s time for me or Dad to tuck them in.
- Jeannette Kaplun, Mommy Blogger at Hispana Global and mother of two.

Sleepless in School

The recommended amount of sleep for high school and college students is 8-10 hours per night, with anything from 8½ (short sleep duration) to 11 hours considered appropriate. According to the CDC, nearly 69% of high school students sleep less than 8 hours a night, with an astounding 76.6% of seniors not getting enough sleep.

Additionally, up to 60% of college students do not get enough sleep on a regular basis.

Another study found that sleep-deprived students were more likely to engage in unhealthy behavior such as drinking, fast driving, and getting into physical fights. Sleep deprivation is also a good predictor of poor academic and athletic performance and drowsy driving.

College students who experienced even one additional night of poor sleep per week were more likely to drop a course (10%) and see a drop in their cumulative GPA (by 0.02). Sleep deprivation ranked the same if not higher than other factors that negatively affect academic success including binge drinking and drug use.

To get better sleep, it is recommended that high school and college students make the following changes:

  • Set and stick to a bedtime routine and sleep schedule

  • Practice sleep hygiene

  • Create a peaceful sleep environment

  • Eliminate caffeine three hours before bedtime

  • Avoid using mobile devices, computer, or tv 1-2 hours before going to sleep

  • Don’t go to bed hungry, instead eat a small snack

  • Avoid working out right before bedtime

  • Meditate or practice light yoga to relax

Other age groups affected by sleep loss include the elderly and people with certain diseases including Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and dementia. Aging can affect our sleep patterns due to a number of factors including hormonal changes associated with aging and the increased likelihood of taking more medications and experiencing side effects. It is recommended that you work with your primary care physician to determine the best course of treatment.

Work Productivity Takes A Hit

The average U.S. worker loses 11 days of productivity per year due to insomnia. That’s $2,280 per year. The total loss is a whopping $63.2 billion per year. What this could mean for you is missing out on a promotion or a superior performance review.

Unfortunately, our corporate culture only contributes to this by promoting the idea that sleep is not a required commodity. In other words, we think sleep is a luxury saved for vacations and weekends, not something we need for proper health.

A few companies have begun to pay attention to the field of sleep medicine and recent research that has shown the negative effects of poor sleep on employee health, work productivity, and ballooning insurance costs. A recently Fatigue Cost Calculator developed by Brigham and Women’s Hospital for the National Safety Council can provide estimates of the cost of poor sleep health for an employer. Google, Goldman Sachs, and Johnson & Johnson, to name a few, are some of these companies.

At Google, for instance, sleep experts have been invited to the company's locations to share information with employees regarding sleep deprivation, jet lag, and the restorative power of deep sleep.

Light is the enemy of sleep.
- Dr. Budhiraja

More From The Best

Budhiraja says that sleep works to regenerate our bodies including our brains and our muscles. The brain progresses through different stages of sleep every 90 minutes or so: light sleep, deep sleep, and REM stage, which is the dream phase of sleep.

“During sleep, muscle tone goes down,” says Budhiraja. “Relaxation of muscle is even greater during the dream stage of sleep.” He explains that many areas of the brain also relax during the sleep and the rate of brain metabolism decreases, except in REM phase, where the brain activity and energy use may be even higher than when awake. REM and non-REM sleep may be responsible for different aspects of memory consolidation.

A Little TLC

Based on his research, Budhiraja recommends you make three lifestyle changes scientifically proven to improve your sleep. He calls it TLC or temperature, light, and calming your mind to get better sleep.

The cooler your body, the better sleep you can get.
-Dr. Budhiraja

First, there is temperature. When you go to sleep, you do not want your room too warm or too cold. The ideal room temperature to promote better sleep is between 65 and 70 degrees.

Light is another factor proven to affect sleep. If there is too much light in your bedroom, especially artificial light, it can stop the production of melatonin in your brain, the hormone related to sleep. “Light is the enemy of sleep,” says Budhiraja. Cellphones and other mobile devices are blue light sources and major disruptors of sleep. “Smartphones are shown to decrease sleep by up to half an hour.” Budhiraja suggests putting your phone down one to two hours before you go to bed.

Calming your mind completes the treatment trio and is also something we can control, although it may be difficult for some to do. Meditating or deep breathing before going to sleep has been found to decrease anxiety and depression. In fact, studies report meditation is associated with decreased activity in the default mode network or DMN, which is a part of the brain related to mind wandering and thinking about the self.  

Finally, not having a regular sleep routine, i.e., going to bed at the same time each night, can throw off your sleep pattern. Our bodies naturally start increasing melatonin a few hours before our scheduled bedtime. If you keep changing that time, you can affect your body’s natural sleep hormone production.

Medication and Treatments

Holistic

Some popular holistic supplements include melatonin, valerian root, and herbal teas such as chamomile tea. According to Budhiraja, melatonin is likely the most studied sleep supplement. As a sleep hormone produced naturally in the body, it tells the brain when it’s time to fall asleep. The dosage is up for debate—over the counter pills are usually available in 1mg or 3mg or higher doses—starting at a lower dose and increasing the dose if needed is a good idea. Melatonin is considered to be a fairly well-tolerated sleep treatment; however, it is not a cure-all for sleep disorders and may only be effective for certain individuals. It is more likely to be effective in individuals who have delayed sleep phase syndrome- a condition in which people fall asleep late and wake up late. It can be also effective in preventing or treating jet lag.

Other alternative solutions include making the bedroom as dark as possible and/ or the addition of a white noise machine to your sleep routine. It is estimated that nearly 75% of Americans said that a quiet room is important to getting good sleep. Lastly, there is taking your grandmother’s age-old advice: drink a warm cup of milk before going to bed.

Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) is a very effective therapy where a psychologist or another trained professional can help you identify and address your thoughts and behaviors that may be contributing to poor sleep. It even can be delivered through online programs.

Over-The-Counter

Over-the-counter medications include diphenhydramine (Benadryl, Aleve PM, etc.) or doxylamine succinate (Unisom). These sleep aids have side effects including drowsiness and leaving you feeling groggy the next day. Furthermore, the body can quickly develop tolerance to some of these medications.

Prescription Medication

Finally, there are prescription medications. According to Budhiraja, medications should generally be your last resort in seeking help to get better sleep, and if used, should usually be used over short-term. They can cause several side effects- drowsiness, dizziness, diarrhea, grogginess or feeling as if drugged. In addition, after taking some of these medicines, people may get up out of bed while not being fully awake and do an activity that they do not know they are doing- including driving. The next morning, they may not remember that they did anything during the night. “The body can also develop tolerance to these medications, requiring progressively increasing doses or more potent medicines,” he says.

Before Turning Off the Lights

Most of us have faced a sleepless night or two in our lifetimes. We’ve laid awake and listened to a leaky faucet go drip, drip, drip into the wee hours of the night. Worse, we are one of the 70 million people in the United States who suffer from a lack of sleep or who have a sleep disorder.

We’re tired new parents, or college students cramming for an exam, or a software engineer who works 60 hours or more a week, or are getting older and are finding it harder to sleep.

Seventy million: that’s more than a third of the population across the nation.

Scientific studies have proven the health ramifications of sleep deprivation and what it does to our bodies, minds, and everyday lives. It is an epidemic that not only affects us as adults but is also affecting our nation’s kids.

We can take countermeasures to get more and better sleep, steps that have been proven to work by scientific studies. We can give ourselves some TLC to promote better sleep, which can, in turn, restore us to our full capacity. Because really, don’t we just want our best sleep every night, especially in this age of high stress? We want that great sleep where we wake up refreshed and ready to take on the day.

Co-Authors: Scott Smith, Community Editor, and Mayra Paris, Associate Editor


High Point University and the Specialty Sleep Association Reveal Research Findings:

 Mattress Sales Retail Associates Opinions  on Consumers’ Views of Bed Supports and Foundations

The Undergraduate Research and Creative Works (URCW) Department at High Point University in collaboration with the Specialty Sleep Association (SSA) today released the findings of an online survey of mattress retail sales associates (RSAs) assessing their impressions of consumers’ knowledge and interest in foundations and bed support systems based on over 100 RSA or retail buyer responses. Seventy-nine per cent of the sales associates believe that customers know very little about mattress support systems, and 50% of the retailers said that customers simply do not care. The research summarized, “Eighty-two per cent  of the sales associates rated customers as unlikely to link the foundational support of their mattress to its performance.” Also, according to the findings, 90% of the mattress RSAs brought up the mattress support issue, but only 65% said they bring up the topic during the mattress sales presentation.

High Point University professor and director of URCW, Dr. Joanne Altman and psychology major Sarah Seaford offer the following conclusion: “There is a strong need to educate customers about the role mattress foundations play in sleep quality. Foundations (and frames) need to be at the forefront of the conversation and tied to mattress quality.”

SSA says that these key findings could have a significant impact on mattress sales

The mattress/ bedding RSA survey did identify key findings that could have a major impact on the mattress retail marketplace, according to Tambra Jones, Executive Director of the SSA. “The RSA’s inform us that 40% of customers will be using their old foundation and support which could impact sleep quality.” With 40% of consumers placing a new mattress on an old foundation and frame, there seems to be no understanding of the key role the base support plays with overall mattress support and comfort. This also indicates a lack of awareness of bed bugs, dust mites or physical wear and tear with old foundations and bed supports. Also, Jones noted that while there is a chance to increase sales and margins with adjustable beds, the RSA’s said that only 38% of conversations with customers focused on adjustable frames versus stationary or traditional bed support systems.

Four per cent of mattresses sold were returned because of a foundation or bed support failure.

The Number One key finding of the bed support research is that RSA’s claimed that “… 4% of mattresses sold were returned because of a foundation or bed support failure.”  Follow along with us here.  Based on 2017 ISPA statistical reports, 23.4 million mattresses were sold in 2017 with an Average Unit Selling Price  (AUSP) of $311 per unit. If 4% of mattresses sold were returned for issues relating to bed support failure, this represents nearly 939,000 units @ $311 per unit. This would total $292 million in bed support related returns.. It could be said that if bed support issues were adequately addressed during the sale of a mattress, retailers could reduce returns worth millions of dollars.

According to SSA Board Member Dennis Rodgers of Forever Foundations, the SSA believes that bed support systems and correct foundation systems may be under marketed. “This research and conclusion would indicate an important opportunity to enhance customer satisfaction, improve quality performance, significantly reduce mattress returns and provide better sleep for consumers,” states Rodgers. “Imagine if you will; a couple purchase a new car.  A number of years later they decided to purchase another car. The ride is not comfortable to them. To save money they decided to use the tires from the old car.  They worked just fine! Within a few days, the couple return the car.  The ride wasn’t like the ride when they took the test drive.  It was very much like their old car, which was the reason they purchased the new car.”

Rodgers further comments a proactive foundation and bed support sales program could add significant attachment business to mattress sales. “ Just as the top-of-bed accessories add-on marketplace has taken off, we think there is a great opportunity for “Under-the-Bed” support frame and foundation products to enhance overall sale of mattress and bedding products.”

Could Waterbeds Ever Make a Comeback?

BY JOHN DONOVAN  JUN 15, 2018 How Stuff Works

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The waterbed was born around a half-century ago as the counterculture's solution to something pretty basic. We're talking a lack of sleep, of course, though the promise of sloshy lovemaking was a definite selling point back in the day, too. It was an almost immediate, groovy-licious success.

By the late '80s, waterbeds accounted for somewhere around 15 percent of the bedding market, or a tidy $2 billion a year, according to a New York Times article at the time. If you were cool back then — or thought you were or wanted to be — or if you valued a good night's sleep on gently rolling waves or dreamed of nights filled with wild surfing passion, you owned a waterbed. Or you wanted one.

Almost as quickly as the waterbed revolution began, though, it crashed. The novelty wore off. The revolution died. The summers of love ended. The era faded away.

These days, sales statistics for waterbeds are hard to come by. But it's clear that things aren't like they were back in the swinging '70s and '80s and even into the '90s. The competition (mainly things like air mattresses and memory foam) has grown. The number of waterbed manufacturers and sellers has shrunk.

Do you even know anyone who still owns a waterbed?

Lynn Hardman does. He still sleeps on one every night. He's also sold thousands of them over the past few decades to countless satisfied customers.

Hardman owns Southern Waterbeds & Futons in Athens, Georgia, and say that business isn't like what it was in the '70s, a time when mattress stores didn't dot every strip mall in every suburb, and mom-and-pop shops didn't have to compete with the internet. But there's still business out there. The waterbed is still hanging on.

"It's like night and day," says Hardman, who has operated his store for 43 years, almost as long as waterbeds have been around. "The waterbed has really followed that baby boom generation from the counterculture of the late '50s to where we are today. The early customers [back then] were younger and, today, it's almost the entire opposite. The baby boomers are older — much wiser — and in some cases buying that final bed."

The New Waterbeds

Waterbed manufacturers and showrooms like Hardman's are still easy enough to find, if you're looking. Beds and mattresses by InnoMax, Boyd Specialty Sleep, Strobel, United States Watermattress, American National and others vie for pecking order in the market.

Most offer hard-sided beds that, like the first ones, rely on a major piece of wood furniture to hold the mattress in place. Newer, soft-sided water mattresses can stand on their own, though they all need some kind of a solid base because of the weight of the mattress. Depending on size, a water mattress can hold up to 200 gallons (757 liters), or more than 1,600 pounds (725 kilograms) of H2O.

The lure of waterbeds always has been the water. Aficionados swear by its all-around supportive properties. Hardman talks about being "enveloped" in a water mattress rather than laying on top of a standard one.

Most water mattresses now come with baffles, too, that control how "waveless" they are, for those turned off by that too-sloshy feeling. Most have heaters that can regulate the temperature of the water anywhere from 70 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit (21 to 38 degrees Celsius).

The newest mattresses are split into dual zones, too, so one person can enjoy a different firmness, temperature and wave-control than his or her sleeping partner. The waterbed of the 21st century, clearly, is not the fur-covered playground that Hugh Hefner put on his private jet and flew around on in the '70s. (It was round and had a Tasmanian possum bedspread!)

The modern version, Hardman contends, is way better.

"I still think the waterbed is the best bed that's ever been invented. Period. And there are a lot of people out there that feel that way," he says.

The Future of Waterbeds

The man credited with inventing and patenting the waterbed is septuagenarian Charlie Hall. He's come up with a new one that he's marketing through a string of furniture stores in Florida. From the Kitsap Sun in Bainbridge, Washington:

Gone is the wooden frame that made the older beds so hard to get out of, exchanged for a foam collar that surrounds the water bladder. Spandex covers the top of the mattress to give a floating sensation. A fiber insert quells waves and keeps the water bladder still. An updated temperature system keeps the water feeling just right.

The innovations, Hall is hoping, will spur nostalgia in some and interest a new generation of buyers in a piece of bedroom furniture that they may know little about.

"I think that some people will have a memory of it and want to revisit it just because they remember waterbeds and want to see how different they are," Hall told the Sun. "And then there'll be a generation, it'll be a total novelty for them."

Hooking that new generation of kids may be the biggest challenge in the waterbed's comeback. Hardman occasionally sees some young people in his store now. But they're accompanied by parents or grandparents who drag the kids along to show them a relic from the past.

"It's like a novelty item. They've never seen one before," he says. "It blows my mind that they haven't seen a waterbed."

This would all seem rather quaint if sleep weren't such a deadly serious topic. Research over the past few years has shown just how critical a good night's sleep is. A continued lack of sufficient sleep has been strongly associated with, among other health problems, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension and a decreased life expectancy.

Hardman has a potential answer to that problem sitting in his store, just as it has been for the past 43 years.

"There's just something about that semi-weightless state that you can only get laying on a waterbed," he says. "There's something about it that's so soothing and relaxing."


The Strange Yet True History of the Waterbed in America

Amanda Harding March 14, 2018 CheatSheet.com

Even if you never owned one yourself, chances are you know someone who has or had a waterbed.

The waterbed hit its peak of popularity in the 1980s and has been on a steady decline ever since. In 1987, one out of every five mattresses purchased in the U.S. was a waterbed. These days you’re much more likely to order your mattress online and make a video of the unboxing than you are to fiddle with the cumbersome task of installing a giant, heavy bedfilled with hundreds of gallons of water.

Ahead, discover the history of this unique bed style and the reason why they might be making an unexpected comeback (just not for humans).

Modern waterbeds were invented by a design student

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Charlie Hall was just a student at San Francisco State University when he came up with the idea to fill a mattress with water and sleep on it. His previous attempts at providing total liquid comfort for lounging included chairs filled with cornstarch and gelatin.

Hall presented his master’s thesis project in 1968 and allowed his whole class to test out his waterbed creation. “Everybody just ended up frolicking on the waterbed,” Hall said.

It was the beginning of a mattress revolution.

Primitive waterbeds were made for comfort, not cavorting

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While Charlie Hall is credited with coming up with the first modern waterbed, there were some earlier attempts worth mentioning. Scottish physician Dr. Neil Arnot made a “hydrostatic bed for invalids” which consisted of a warm bath filled with water and topped with rubber. It was meant to reduce bedsores.

Science fiction writer Robert Heinlein, who was bedridden with tuberculosis, wrote about waterbeds in one of his books but never actually made a real one. The first mention of waterbeds dates all the way back to 3600 BCE, when ancient Persians filled goat skin mattresses with sun-warmed water.

Marketers made the waterbed sexual

Hall’s intention wasn’t necessarily to sell waterbeds as sex aids — but the timing of their release coincided with the sexual revolution, and marketers quickly latched on to the idea of making the waterbed all about sex.

One company claimed that “Two things are better on a waterbed. One of them is sleep.” Another said, “She’ll admire you for your car, she’ll respect you for your position, but she’ll love you for your waterbed.” Even notorious lothario Hugh Hefner had a Tasmanian possum-covered waterbed.

In 1971, Time reported that “in Manhattan, the waterbed display at Bloomingdale’s department store for a while was a popular singles meeting place.”

The rise and fall of the waterbed was dramatic

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By the 1980s, waterbeds were more mainstream, moving beyond just playboy bedrooms and into modern suburban homes. Their popularity peaked in 1987, when one in every five mattresses sold was a waterbed and the market was worth $2 billion.

These days, the market share is down to five percent. But the real question is, “Why?”

Waterbeds are a real commitment

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Most people believe that waterbeds went out of fashion because they were a little “icky.” But some experts have a different theory.

Installing a waterbed was no easy feat. Running a hose to your bedroom, worrying about leaks, concerns over algae, and bans in certain apartment complexes meant that waterbeds were often more trouble than they were worth. And moving? Forget it. You might as well leave the whole expensive thing behind.

Even the waterbed’s inventor admitted that they were complicated and high maintenance.

The waterbed has come a long way

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Technology has changed the entire world, and waterbeds are no exception. Soft-sided “waveless” waterbeds aren’t quite as ugly as the ’80s version you’re probably picturing.

The water is separated into multiple compartments rather than one huge pocket so sleeping on one doesn’t feel as dramatic. New waterbeds look less like “pleasure pits” and more like regular beds.

These days, waterbed customers aren’t human

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Even though the waterbed market has been declining for human bedrooms, another species still sees the benefit. Time published an article in 2012 on the trend of buying waterbeds for cows.

There are entire companies devoted to creating waterbeds for cows to help reduce sores and infections since they’re less likely to grow bacteria. One farmer purchased $100,000 worth of waterbeds for his cows and justified it by saying, “Happier cows, happier milk.”

Waterbeds may never be as popular again — at least not for people. But at least the cows are udderly comfortable.

Source: https://www.cheatsheet.com/culture/the-str...

The Weird True Story of the Rise and Fall of the Waterbed

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If you've ever slept on a waterbed, you know that it is a singular experience. My cousins had one growing up, and I thought it was the most fascinating thing — I had never dreamed that sleep could feel (or, let's be honest, sound) like that. Almost since its invention, the waterbed has been associated with excitement and even licentiousness — but ever since the late 1980s, when the waterbed hit its peak, it's been slowly disappearing from the American home, if not the American consciousness. Read on the for the weird true story of the rise and fall of the waterbed.

The waterbed, as we know it, got its start in California, in the late sixties. After experimenting with chairs filled with cornstarch and even Jell-o, Charlie Hall, a design student at San Francisco State University, hit upon the idea of a mattress full of water. Hall presented the water-filled mattress as his master's thesis one evening in 1968, and his entire class spent the night frolicking on it. Thus the modern waterbed was born.

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Hall wasn't the first person to come up with the idea of filling a mattress with water. In the early 1800s, Dr. Neil Arnot created a 'hydrostatic bed for invalids' that was intended to reduce bedsores. The bed consisted of a warm bath filled with water and topped with a layer of rubber, which was then sealed to prevent leaks. And science fiction writer Robert Heinlein, inspired by the time he spent bedridden with tuberculosis, described a waterbed in great detail in one of his books, although he never bothered to build it.

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But it was modern technology that really made the waterbed possible. The invention of vinyl meant that a mattress that would reliably hold water and not leak was a real possibility, so Hall began his experiments at just the right time. Of course, it was the swinging sixties, and marketers quickly picked up on the waterbed's more tantalizing possibilities. One company claimed that "Two things are better on a waterbed. One of them is sleep." Hall sold waterbeds to members of Jefferson Airplane and to Hugh Hefner. In 1971, Time reported that, "in Manhattan, the waterbed display at Bloomingdale's department store for a while was a popular singles meeting place."

In the 1980s, the waterbed successfully made the leap from bachelor pad to suburban bedroom. At the peak of the waterbed craze, in 1987, more than one out of five mattresses purchased in the U.S. were waterbeds — meaning that enjoying that sweet, sloshy sleep was almost mainstream. But since then, their market share has declined to a lowly five percent. What happened?

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Some people have attributed the decline of the waterbed to their association with creepy '70s lotharios, but their popularity with suburbanites in the '80s seems to refute that. I think the real problem with waterbeds was that they were kind of a pain. Installing one meant running a hose into your bedroom, risking flood-like conditions. Moving a waterbed was even more complicated, requiring an electric pump or another device to siphon out the water. And the wooden frames could weigh hundreds of pounds. Plus there was the possibility of your mattress springing a leak, or growing algae (although, to be fair, this could be avoided by adding a little Clorox to the water upon the initial filling). Many apartment complexes banned them.

But the modern waterbed still had its adherents — and it might look (and feel) much different than you'd expect. New softsided, or 'waveless', water beds lack the telltale wood frame of the old models. They consist of a water-filled pouch or coils surrounded by foam sides, and look just like a standard mattress. Separating the water into multiple compartments cuts down on the wave action, which makes for a bed that's just as supportive and not nearly as sloshy (although maybe also not nearly as fun).

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Oddly, waterbeds may be finding a new market, but not a human one. Time, which first reported on the popularity of the waterbed in 1971, published an article in 2012 about the trend of buying waterbeds for cows. Yes, cows. Apparently this unconventional accommodation helps to reduce sores and infections, and is less likely to grow bacteria than beds of traditional materials like wood chips. There are entire companies devoted to producing waterbeds for cows. As one Oregon farmer put it: "Happier cows, happier milk."

So, in its own way, the waterbed persists. It may have disappeared, for the most part, from the American bedroom, but in the American psyche (and maybe the American farm), Charlie Hall's unusual invention still looms large.

Source: https://www.apartmenttherapy.com/waterbed-...

What Ever Happened To Waterbeds?

BY JEFF WELLS PRINTED FEBRUARY 10, 2016 MentalFloss.com

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For kids and adults alike, waterbeds used to be the coolest—until suddenly they weren’t. After a heyday in the late 1980s in which nearly one out of every four mattresses sold was a waterbed mattress, the industry dried up in the 1990s, leaving behind a sense of unfilled promise and thousands upon thousands of unsold vinyl shells. Today, waterbeds make up only a very small fraction of overall bed and mattress sales. Many home furnishing retailers won’t sell them, and some that do say it’s been years since they last closed a deal.

So what happened? Although they were most popular in that decade of boomboxes and acid-washed jeans, waterbeds had been gaining steam since the late 1960s, and in retrospect seem to have more substance to them than other notorious fads. How did our enthusiasm for sleeping atop gallons and gallons of all-natural H2O drain away so quickly?

By some accounts, waterbeds date all the way back to 3600 BCE, when Persians filled goat-skin mattresses with water warmed by the sun. In the early 1800s, Dr. Neil Arnott, a Scottish physician, created a “hydrostatic bed” for hospital patients with bedsores. This was essentially a warm bath covered with a thin layer of rubber and then sealed up with varnish. In 1853, Dr. William Hooper of Portsmouth, England patented a therapeutic rubber mattress that could be filled with water. It, too, was for hospital patients suffering from poor circulation and bedsores. In the mid 20th century, science fiction writer Robert Heinlein—inspired by the months he spent bedridden with tuberculosis in the 1930s—described waterbeds in great detail in three of his novels. The beds he envisioned had a sturdy frame, were temperature-controlled, and contained pumps that allowed patients to control the water level inside the mattress. There were also compartments for drinks and snacks, which sounds really convenient. It was, according to Heinlein, “an attempt to design the perfect hospital bed by one who had spent too damn much time in hospital beds.”

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The inventor of the modern day waterbed was an industrial design student named Charles Hall, who in 1968 submitted a waterbed prototype (made with a vinyl mattress rather than a rubber one) for his masters thesis project. Hall wanted to rethink furniture design, and was taken with the idea of fluid-filled interiors. Before settling on the waterbed, he had tried filling a chair with 300 pounds of cornstarch gel, which quickly rotted. He also tried using JELL-O as a filling, with similarly disastrous results. The introduction of water fulfilled his vision without the ick factor. During the graduating class’s thesis workshop, Hall told The Atlantic, students ignored other projects and ended up hanging out on his waterbed.

Hall established his own company, Innerspace Environments, and began manufacturing waterbeds for sale throughout California. Early customers included the band Jefferson Airplane, as well as the Smothers Brothers. Eventually Hall’s bed, which he named “The Pleasure Pit,” made its way into 32 retail locations throughout the state. Success was short-lived, however, as cheap imitators quickly flooded the market. By the early 1970s, dozens of different companies were manufacturing waterbeds, feeding the growing demand for a groovy new way to … sleep.

Although many associate waterbeds with strait-laced suburban living, back in the ‘70s they were a symbol of the free-flowing counterculture movement—more likely to be sold with incense and Doors albums than with fluffy pillows and high thread count sheets. “That fluid fixture of 1970s crash pads” was how a New York Times story from 1986 described them. The names of manufacturers and distributors reflected this: Wet Dream, Joyapeutic Aqua Beds, and Aquarius Products were a few that rolled with the times.

Sex, of course, was a big selling point. “Two things are better on a waterbed,” an Aquarius ad stated. “One of them is sleep.” Another ad proclaimed, “She’ll admire you for your car, she’ll respect you for your position, and she’ll love you for your waterbed.” Hippies and hip bachelors alike were the target market for the bed that promised the motion of the ocean. Hall even got in on the act, offering a $2800 “Pleasure Island” setup, complete with contour pillows, color television, directional lighting, and a bar. Hugh Hefner loved the craze, of course—Hall made him one covered in green velvet, and Hef had another that he outfitted in Tasmanian possum hair.

By the '80s, waterbeds had moved from the hazy fringe to the commercial mainstream. “It has followed the path of granola and Jane Fonda,” the Times noted. Indeed, waterbeds were available in a variety of styles, from four-post Colonials to Victorian beds with carved headboards to simple, sturdy box frames. Allergy sufferers liked having a dust-free mattress, while back pain sufferers were drawn to the beds’ free-floating quality. Advertisements by sellers like Big Sur Waterbeds played up the health benefits with shirtless, beefy dudes like this one:

People were also eager to try a new spin on something as boring as a bed. Kids, especially, loved the squishy, gurgling weirdness of a waterbed. If you were a child of the '80s, it arguably was as close to a status symbol as you could get. Manufacturers, meanwhile, fed the demand with novelty frames, bunk beds, circular love nest beds, and even waterbeds for dogs. They also improved the experience with innovations like “baffles” that cut down on the wave motion many beds created, thereby addressing the one-of-a-kind problem of people getting seasick in their own bedrooms. As waterbed mania swept the nation, specialty outlets like Waterbed Plaza, Waterbed Emporium, and the Waterbed Store opened up shop, and wave after wave of cheesy local television ads followed.

By 1984, waterbeds were a $2 billion business. At the height of their popularity, in 1987, 22 percent of all mattress sales in the U.S. were waterbed mattresses.

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Here’s the thing about waterbeds, though: They were high maintenance. Installing one meant running a hose into your bedroom and filling the mattress up with hundreds of gallons of H2O—a precarious process that held the potential for a water-soaked bedroom. Waterbeds were also really, really heavy. In addition to the filled mattress, the frame—which had to support all that water weight—could be a back-breaker. When the mattress needed to be drained, an electric pump or some other nifty siphoning tricks were required. Waterbeds could also spring leaks (as Edward Scissorhands showed), which could be patched but, again, added to the cost and hassle.

In the '90s, it became clear that the novelty of waterbeds couldn’t overcome the additional work they required. By that time, competitors like Tempur-Pedic and Select Comfort were also coming out with mattress innovations that offered softness and flexibility without making customers run a garden hose through their second-floor bedroom window.

These days, the waterbed market is still going, albeit on a much, much smaller scale. Mattress models are lighter than the models of decades past, and come with nifty accessories like foam padding and interior fibers that further cut down on the wave effect. They’re also outfitted with tubes or “bladders” that take in water rather than the entire mattress, making the experience less like filling an enormous water balloon. Most models are quite sophisticated, in fact. The Boyd Comfort Supreme mattress has all the technical specs of a household gadget: three-layer lumbar support, four-layer reinforced corners, “thermavinyl” heat resistant bottom layer, five-layer wave reduction system. That’s a lot of layers! There are also airframe waterbeds that stand firm on their own, and sophisticated temperature-control devices that keep sleepers warm. Marty Pojar, owner of The Waterbed Doctor (which takes mainly online and phone orders), told The Orange County Register that most of his orders come from customers in the Midwest and Northeast, where customers want to hop into a warm bed on cold winter nights.

Like those who still play Sega Genesis or prefer a flip phone to an iPhone, waterbed customers are fiercely loyal to their retro trend. But their enthusiasm alone won’t likely bring waterbeds back to the mainstream. Indeed, even the name “waterbed” carries negative connotations, retailers note. Pojar prefers to call them “flotation” beds. A Washington D.C. furniture salesman interviewed by The Atlantic said he oftentimes doesn’t tell customers when they’re lying on a waterbed. "Everybody who tries the ones we have on our floor is very happy with the feel, but some people won't get it just because it's a waterbed," he said. These days, the most promising market for soft, squishy waterbeds may, oddly enough, be cows.

Source: http://mentalfloss.com/article/71404/what-...

17 YEARS OF THE WATER BED: A SOCIAL HISTORY

By PATRICIA LEIGH BROWN Printed AUG. 28, 1986 The New York Times

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This is a digitized version of an article from The Times’s print archive, before the start of online publication in 1996. To preserve these articles as they originally appeared, The Times does not alter, edit or update them. Occasionally the digitization process introduces transcription errors or other problems. Please send reports of such problems to archive_feedback@nytimes.com.

IT may never join the loftiest ranks of modern furniture design, those hallowed niches reserved for the likes of Mies van der Rohe or Charles Eames. And it is possible to overstate the cultural importance of the water bed. After all, the modern water bed began as a gurgling mass of velvet-topped vinyl, procured in bead-draped record stores along with incense and albums from the rock group Cream.

Still, if contributions to modern design were judged purely on the basis of emotions engendered, the water bed, that fluid fixture of 1970's crash pads, might be at the top of the ratings.

''A capitalist rip-off,'' a floor-loving purist said in Rolling Stone at that time. ''The bounciest bedroom invention since the innerspring mattress,'' said Time.

In the catalogue for last winter's ''High Styles'' show at the Whitney Museum of American Art, Martin Filler called the water bed one of the ''most evocative furniture types of the time.'' Filled with up to 250 gallons of water and who knows how many tons of sexual promise, the organic, free-floating form seemed to capture the spirit of the age. Its mystique was skillfully perpetuated by water bed dealers and manufacturers. ''Two things are better on a water bed,'' read the copy of one popular advertisement in 1970. ''One of them is sleeping.''

But times change. ''When I was a hippie,'' says the San Francisco writer Ben Fong-Torres, a former water bed owner, ''I remember thinking that one day there would be a New Yorker cartoon in which you walked into an antique store and looked at beanbag chairs and water beds.''

Strangely, however, the water bed has not become passe. Rather, it has followed the path of granola and Jane Fonda. ''We have infiltrated the mainstream,'' says Henry R. Robinson, the president of the Trendwest Furniture Manufacturing Company and the official spokesman of the Waterbed Manufacturers Association.

The $1.9 billion annual sales of the flotation sleep industry, as it is known, now constitute between 12 percent and 15 percent of the American bedding market, according to Mr. Robinson. In comparison, sales hovered around $13 million in 1971. Water beds now come in popular styles such as four-poster Colonials, which account for 49 percent of current frame sales. There are Victorian water beds with etched-glass and carved headboards. They are sold today in suburban shopping malls in stores with names like Waterbed Plaza. ''The water bed buyer profile is not distinctively different today from conventional mattress buyers,'' says Leonard S. Gaby, a vice president of Simmons U.S.A., which began selling water beds in 1980 and now offers five different styles.

In perhaps the biggest blow to their Haight-Ashbury image, water beds will be making their debut in the popular Spiegel catalogue next year, according to Carl Truett, furniture buyer for the company.

About the only place water beds do not seem to sell, in fact, is New York City, which has the distinction of being considered the nation's worst market for water beds. Manufacturers blame this on restrictions against them in apartment leases and the high costs of retailing, but David Klein, a vice president of Kleinsleep, a major New York bedding retailer, has another theory. ''New Yorkers are urbane, sophisticated,'' he says. ''By 1970, New Yorkers were bored with water beds.''

Born in 1969, the same year as Woodstock, the modern water bed was designed by Charles Hall, then a student, as a project for a class at San Francisco State University. Though therapeutic flotation systems date to the early 1800's, and possibly beyond, Mr. Hall is widely considered the inventor of the water bed in its popular form. The designer had originally turned to starch and Jell-O as a filler rather than water, but the goo tended to swallow the sleeper. This gave rise to newspaper feature headlines such as The Toronto Star's ''Rancid Jell-O Led to First Water Bed.''

Eventually, Mr. Hall hit upon the right formula: a vinyl bag filled with water that was fitted with a temperature-control device and liner and set in a sturdy frame.

Mr. Hall's idea caught on instantly, but there were many cheap permutations. ''They were selling bags of water for $20,'' Mr. Hall says today. ''It was a disaster.''

Water beds became common on many college campuses, though their early reputation for leaks caused them to be banned by some campus housing authorities. A Vassar graduate of the early 70's, now a Manhattan banker, recalled, ''There was always a big scene in September with hoses hanging down from windows when someone moved their water bed in.'' She finally gave up on water beds, deeming them ''too squishy.'' David Klein said: ''It was a countercultural item. It was different. It was not the bed your parents had.''

In the mid-70's, stand-up comics and television sitcoms had a field day with water beds. In an episode of the sitcom ''Phyllis,'' for instance, Phyliss (Cloris Leachman) checked into a motel room only to discover a pink fur water bed. She later accidentally stabbed it with a letter opener, creating a geyser that gushed to the ceiling.

Such scenes created a profound image problem for the water bed industry. Mr. Robinson said: ''There was a stigma. The water bed was associated with sex, drugs and rock-and-roll, let's face it.'' Letitia Blitzer, 25 years old, of Bala Cynwyd, Pa., is emblematic of the water bed's image problem. ''They sort of looked left over from the 60's,'' she explains. ''I don't feel left over from the 60's. I can't tell you how fearful I was of having a garbage bag filled with water covered with psychedelic seagull and rainbow-decorated sheets.''

Nevertheless, at the instigation of her husband, Seth, also 25, the couple bought a water bed two years ago. Now, Mrs. Blitzer says, ''I'm glad I took the plunge.''

The advent of ''superwaveless'' mattresses has helped the water bed appeal to a more conventional market. The modification has ''made the water bed more of an adult product and taken away the major sales detriment,'' says Mr. Hall, who now designs beds for Monterey Manufacturing.

Perhaps the water bed, like so many other things in modern life, was bound to grow up. ''It's the old story of the counterculture becoming respectable,'' said Alan Dundes, professor of anthropology and folklore at the University of California at Berkeley.

''The country is in a different mood now than in the 1970's,'' he continued. ''There is a movement of conservatism. The family is coming back. There is a shift away from the self-indulgence of the 1970's.'' He hypothesized that the water bed ''had to undergo a metamorphosis and conform to an image of respectability in order to survive.''

Some of the water bed's original fans have changed, too. Marleen Nienhuis gave up the water bed she had purchased in Greenwich Village over 10 years ago, relegating it to her attic in New Jersey when she took a job on Wall Street. ''It unleashed a reservoir of emotions,'' she said of her decision, but somehow the idea of sleeping on a water bed and then going off to work at a major corporation didn't jibe.

In her place are new adherents, unfettered by history. ''I love it,'' said Annette Zullo, who has a four-poster waveless water bed with a carved headboard in her ranch house in Copiague, L.I. ''You can hardly tell it's a water bed.''

Still, despite its mainstream status, the water bed remains a powerful symbol of earlier, more spontaneous times. Observed Rod Lauer, owner of

Novembre Waterbeds in Baltimore, one of the nation's oldest dealers, ''People kind of smile when you say the word water bed.''


Source: https://www.nytimes.com/1986/08/28/garden/...