The Evolution of the Mattress
When you look at the vast selection of mattresses available at a mattress store, you probably don’t think much of the variety since thats what you have come to expect. In this day and age we have gotten used to the innovations in mattress technology that make our beds so incredibly comfortable. We are so used to comfortable mattresses that most of us take for granted the fact that things weren’t always this way. Mattresses have come a long way since man first got the idea to not sleep directly on the ground.
The idea of mattresses goes back as far as 10,000 years ago during the Neolithic period. Primitive, cave-dwelling humans, following a Flintstonian line of logic, used large rocks covered in animal skin and grass to sleep on. When there were no raised rocks to rest, sleeping on the ground on top of animal skins was also a popular option. From there, at sometime around 3,000 BCE, Egyptian royalty began the practice of purposely raising their beds off of the ground. Pharaoh Tutankhamen owned a raised bed made of ebony and gold. At this point it was only the royals and possibly some highborn people that had the luxury of an actual bed. Most people at this time were still sleeping on piles of reeds.
It wasn’t until the Roman empire that we see actual stuffed luxury mattresses. Still owned exclusively by the upper echelons of society, these mattresses were stuffed with cotton, feathers, and reeds and usually sat upon beds of precious metal. Some scholars believe that the water bed was also created by the Romans, although there is still some debate on the matter.
With the path laid by the Roman empire, the Renaissance period pioneered on and improved on the Roman model. This is the first period in time when people began to consider what material their mattress was made of, not just what it was stuffed with. They first stuffed a coarse sack full of straw and feathers and proceeded to wrap it in velvet or silk. And thus, silk sheets were created. These mattresses were typically raised on wooden frames, held together by leather straps. This innovation provided to the common people not only raised people above the ground away from the disease infested pests that often resided on their floors, but also heavily prevented harmful mold from growing.
In the 18th century, the cast iron bed as well as the cotton mattress made their first appearances. People began to experiment a bit more on what worked best as mattress filling. Horsehair and coconut fibers were often used in addition to wool and cotton. These new mattresses were also a less attractive space for bugs and other pests. Up until this time bugs were an occupational hazard when it came to sleep so this was a very important innovation.
The next large step in the evolution in mattresses didn’t occur until 1865 when the technology for the first coil spring mattress was patented. The patent was originally used for cushions in chair seats but was soon after transfered to mattresses. Also in the late 19th century, a design for a modern water bed was introduced and was used in hospitals to prevent and treat the formation of ulcers.
The 20th century provided a boom in mattress technology beginning in the 1930’s with the innerspring mattress. Many of the innovations in the 20th century stem from the chemical advancements from WWII. The most common material developed from these advancements is polyurethane foam. It wasn’t until the 50’s that foam mattresses hit the market and became popular. With the development of vinyl, the 60’s ushered in the modern water bed which was very popular until the late 1900’s ushered in pillow-top, pocket spring, adjustable, and air mattresses. Memory foam was developed by NASA in the 60’s but did not become commercially popular until the 90’s.
These days there are too many different variations of popular mattress designs to even count. Just as we as a species has evolved, our emphasis of the importance of comfort has evolved with us. The choices that are currently available to you when you’re shopping for mattresses are numerous and they can all be found in one place: Mattresses for Less. Come get your new mattress at Mattresses for Less and after they deliver it the same day and haul away your old mattress, once you lay down to go to sleep, think about how far mattresses have come and how glad you are to not be sleeping on a rock.