A Brief History Of The Mattress

Unlike us, early man did not need a bedroom to go to sleep. He could make a bed out of fallen leaves and cover himself with an animal skin with its resident insect population. But, thankfully for us, the mattress has evolved into the most important piece of furniture in our home.

In ancient times, a mattress was whatever material you could pile in the corner of a room (or cave) to protect yourself from the hard ground. This ranged from leaves and straw to animal skins. In the Bible, Jacob used a stone for a pillow. While this might be okay if you are going to wrestle with an angel all night, it could not have been very comfortable.

The pharaohs of ancient Egypt had a better idea. They decided to make beds by raising a wooden platform mattress off of the ground to sleep. This probably did a better job of protecting them from snakes and other critters but does not sound substantially more comfortable. And while the pharaohs slept up high, more common Egyptians still slept huddled on mattresses made from stacks of palm leaves.

The Romans decided that they needed a bit more comfort. They had the first water beds. They literally fell asleep in a tub of water, and when it got too cold they moved to a swaying hammock or a sack stuffed with straw, feathers, sticks or wool. The Renaissance saw the introduction of higher quality materials, like silk and velvet, used to cover the coarser ticking.

The next centuries saw few changes to the mattress and more changes to the bed frame. Ropes were woven in a tight lattice pattern to hold the mattress with a little more give. This is where the term “sleep tight” originated.

The late 18th and early 19th century saw major advances in sleep. The cast iron bed frame appeared and so did the cotton stuffed mattress. These beds were less likely to become infested with the bugs that had plagued man for centuries as he tried to rest.

1865 saw a remarkable invention. The innerspring mattress was patented. This has become the model after which most modern mattresses are based. Although patented in 1865, the innerspring mattress and box spring did not become dominant in the bedding industry until the 1930″s. After this point, technology started taking off.

Futons and foam rubber appeared in the ’40s and ’50s, and the 1960s saw the invention of the waterbed and the adjustable bed. The airbed appeared in the ’80s. The 1990s were all about size, with the queen size bed actually taking over as the best selling size, beating the twin.

The new century has seen the introduction of the TempurPedic bed and the use of viscoelastic memory foam on just about every other type of mattress available.

We sure have come a long way from sleeping on the ground and resting our heads on a rock. Thankfully, as man has evolved, so has the mattress. Now we can sleep in the most comfort our money can buy, maybe a Simmons or a Sealy.



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