Mattress Trivia—A Brief History of the Mattress

Mattress Trivia—A Brief History of the Mattress

You probably lay down on a mattress every night for several hours trying to get some sleep so you feel rejuvenated and rested for the next day, but have you ever thought about where mattresses come from or how they evolved into the options that are available today at places like 2 Brothers Mattress? Here is some trivia from a Utah mattress store to give you a little bit of mattress history.

Early Bedding
If you’ve ever told someone you were going to “hit the sack”, you may not be aware that the expression dates back to 9th and 10th century Anglo-Saxons, who used to live, sleep, and eat in their home’s great hall. At the end of the day they would clean up dinner and make up a bed by putting hay into a sack. Ancient Egyptians used to make bedding out of palm fronds, while our Paleolithic ancestors likely made their beds from leaves. Beds evolved by the 17th century into a lighter and more elegant creation, with cords or ropes stretched along a frame that supported the bedding off the ground, and a base stuffed with hay and topped with softer feathers. Wealthier people often had beds surrounded by canopies and drapes to help keep the warmth in at night.

Moving to Metal
Another common saying that you have probably heard is “sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite.” To sleep tight meant to keep the ropes or cords under your bed tightly stretched so they provided adequate support, and the use of wood for bed frames would often lead to fleas and bed bugs that would bite in the night. As a result, metal beds made an appearance in the 19th century, with a wide array of styles from decorative iron and brass to plain designs for servants or in hospitals. Today you can find stylish metal furniture to hold your 2 Brothers Mattress bed from many furniture manufacturers, and these styles are sometimes modeled after beds from the 1800s.

Introducing New Mattress Types
In the 1800s and 1900s people began experimenting with new ways to fill their mattress, including adding metal coils, air, or water instead of straw. Water beds, which became popular in the 1970s and 1980s, actually date back to 19th century hospitals and were used as a way to eliminate pressure points so patients wouldn’t develop bed sores or to support patients with bone fractures or who were paralyzed. The first air bed dates back to the Roman empire, but even with a few people copying the idea throughout the centuries they have never become wildly popular because they are not as comfortable as some other options.

A convertible bed, such as a futon or a Murphy bed, is another design that dates back hundreds of years to a time when many families lived in small homes and had multi-functional living spaces; thus, they needed to be able to hide their bed from view or use it as a couch or other space during the day while sleeping on it at night. These beds might have been stowed away in a wall or behind curtains during the day.

If you’re amazed at how large beds have become today, consider that the largest bed ever made is the Great Bed of Ware (pictured to the left). It was built in Great Britain in 1596, measured 11 feet by 11 feet, and could sleep about 12 people comfortably.

Today you can find the most comfortable mattresses at a place like 2 Brothers Mattress, and knowing the history of the mattress you can marvel at how far we have come in making sleep cozy and comfortable.