The Bed in History
Comfortable, supportive mattresses are something most of us take for granted. We don't think about how they've evolved over time. Here's an eye-opening lesson on the bed throughout history and in more modern times. Give your readers something to think about the next time they go to sleep. So lie down and let us tell you a story.
Great Bed of Ware.
On display at the Victoria and Albert Museum, it originally measured 18 feet six inches wide by 12 feet long and was elaborately carved and canopied. And could accommodate 68 people.
* 10,000 years ago, in the Neolithic period, people began sleeping on primitive "beds."
* 3400 BCE. Egyptian pharaohs discover the benefits of raising a pallet off the earth. King Tutankahmen had a bed of ebony and gold. Common people slept on palm bows heaped in the corner of their home.
* Roman Empire. First luxury bed. Often decorated with gold, silver or bronze, these beds featured mattresses stuffed with reeds, hay, wool or feathers.
* Roman Empire. Romans discover the waterbed. The sleeper would recline in a cradle of warm water until drowsy, then be lifted onto an adjacent cradle with a mattress, where they would be rocked to sleep.
* Renaissance. Mattresses were made of pea shucks or straw, sometimes feathers, stuffed into coarse ticks, then covered with sumptuous velvets, brocades and silks.
Louis XIV was inordinately fond of staying in bed, often holding court in the royal bedroom. Reportedly, he owned 413 beds and displayed a special liking for the ultra spacious and ostentatious variety.
16th and 17th centuries. Mattresses were generally stuffed with straw or down, placed atop a latticework of rope.
* The late 18th century. Advent of the cast iron bed and cotton mattresses. Together, they provided a sleeping space that was less attractive to bugs. Until that time, assorted vermin were simply accepted as an accepted component of even the most royal beds.
* 1865. The first coil spring construction for bedding was patented.
* 1930's. Innerspring mattresses and upholstered foundations became serious contenders for the dominant position they now enjoy in the U.S. and Canada.
* 1940's. Futons introduced to North America.
* 1950's. Foam rubber mattresses and pillows appeared on the market.
The expression "sleep tight" comes from the 16th and 17th centuries when mattresses were placed on top of ropes that needed regular tightening.
1960's. Modern waterbed introduced. Adjustable beds become popular with consumers.
* 1980's. Airbeds introduced.
* 1990's. Spacious sleeping is once again on the rise. In 1999, the queen-size mattress became America's most popular choice for futon mattress size – for the first time ever – beating the twin.
* 2000's. Choice and comfort are key words in contemporary bedding including futons. In addition to an almost unlimited range of innerspring futon mattress designs, new types of soy-based foam futon mattress cores (such as "memory" or visco-elastic foam and refinements to traditional latex) as well as airbeds, waterbeds and high-tech adjustable sleep sets offer consumers attractive, quality alternatives. Pillowtop mattresses, a popular innovation in luxury, offer an extra layer of soft cushioning, and single-sided no-flip mattresses are common.