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Ask Dr. Lisa: Is a Waterbed a Good Choice?

  • Posted: August 2, 2011 
  • Filed under: Articles

Ask Dr. Lisa is a way for you to question The Sleep M.D. directly!  Each week we pick out questions submitted on our Facebook Page, and send them to our medical sleep expert, Dr. Lisa Shives. In this installment, Dr. Lisa answers questions about waterbeds and restless leg syndrome:

Gail Hengle-Fill asks: I just bought a waterbed. It’s fancy and comfy. What is your opinion on waterbeds?

Waterbeds have been around in their current form for decades, and have their share of supporters and detractors.  In their simplest form, waterbeds are a vinyl bladder that sits inside of rails that keep it shaped and secure.  Soft sided waterbeds are more complex, and look to the casual observer like any other mattress.  Waterbeds can come in designs that allow the free flow of water, or with features that reduce wave action.

As with any mattress choice, comfort is in the back of the beholder.  If you enjoy your waterbed and it helps you get a good night’s sleep, then it’s obviously a good choice for you.

Ruth Evinger asks: Are there any sleep positions that can help minimize the effects of restless leg syndrome? It seems that some do make it worse.

Restless Leg Syndrome, or RLS, is a disorder in which patients feel an almost irresistible urge to move their legs or other extremities.  The urge to move results from an unpleasant feeling, usually a tingling or crawling sensation, in the limb.  RLS occurs most often in individuals who are middle-aged and older, but can affect anyone, including children.  In most cases, the cause of RLS is not known, but may occur more often in those with peripheral neuropathy, chronic kidney disease, Parkinson’s disease, anemia and iron deficiency.  Pregnancy and use of some medications can also cause or exacerbate RLS.  RLS appears to be caused by a malfunction of the neurotransmitter dopamine.  Iron is necessary for the synthesis of dopamine and many of the aforementioned conditions are associated with low iron.

 It’s difficult to suggest a sleep position that is right for everyone.  In many cases, patients with RLS do report that it’s worse in one position than another, but that position varies.  This is a case of “do what works best for you.”  Some have found that a bath, massage, or stretching can provide relief.  There are medications that can help with RLS, but they are prescribed only for the worst cases, as they have side-effects that include sleepiness.


Dr. Shives works with SleepBetter.org to provide a medical view of sleep issues. She is one of only a few practitioners with a fellowship in Sleep Medicine in addition to board certification by both the American Board of Internal Medicine and the American Board of Sleep Medicine.

Learn more about Dr. Lisa Shives by clicking here.

Dr. Shives works with SleepBetter.org to provide a medical view of sleep issues. She is one of only a few practitioners with a fellowship in Sleep Medicine in addition to board certification by both the American Board of Internal Medicine and the American Board of Sleep Medicine.

Learn more about Dr. Lisa Shives by clicking here.