Who Invented the Mattress

In ancient times, early man did not need or have a bedroom to go to sleep in. Instead, he would make his bed out of fallen leaves and cover himself over with an animal skin complete with its own resident population of insects. Fortunately for us, the mattress has now evolved into one of the most important pieces of household furniture which was born out of necessity rather than invention.

The early mattress was made out of whatever material could be found and was piled in the corner of a cave or other abode in order to protect yourself from the hard ground. Anything that was reasonably soft such as leaves, straw or animal skins would make an ideal mattress for our early ancestors. In the Bible, we read about Jacob using a stone for a pillow, which may have been ideal to wrestle with an angel all night, but it could not have been too comfortable.

Fast forward a few years to the Egyptian Pharaohs who came up with a better idea. They decided to make beds by raising a wooden platform off of the ground to sleep on. This was probably done more to protect themselves from snakes and other critters rather than being a comfortable alternative to sleeping on a mattress of leaves or straw. While the pharaohs slept up high on their wooden platform, more common Egyptians were still huddled up on mattresses made from stacks of palm leaves.

It was only when the Romans came along that it was decided that more comfort was needed. Their idea was to literally fall asleep in a tub of water, which could be seen as the first water beds. Once the water got too cold they moved to a swaying hammock or a sack stuffed with straw, feathers, sticks or wool.

The Renaissance period saw the introduction of higher quality materials such as silk and velvet which were used to cover the coarser ticking.

Over the next few hundred years, the mattress changed very little but the bed frame did. Ropes were woven in a tight lattice pattern to hold the mattress with a little more give. With use, the ropes would stretch and sag and had to be periodically tightened. It is said that this is where the term "sleep tight" originated.

By the early 19th century, there were major advances in sleep with the appearance of the cast iron bed frame together with cotton stuffed mattresses. These new beds were less likely to become infested with bugs that had plagued man for centuries as he tried to sleep.

Further down the line in 1865, the inner spring mattress was patented. This has become the model after which the majority of today's modern mattresses are based. Even though the inner spring mattress and box spring were patented in 1865, it was not until the 1930's that they became dominant in the bedding industry. After this point in time, technology really started taking off.

The 1940's and 50's saw futons and foam rubber appearing followed by the invention of the waterbed and the adjustable bed in the 1960's. The 1980's saw the introduction of the airbed. The 1990's were all about size, with the queen size bed actually taking over as the best selling size, beating the twin.

The last few years have seen the introduction of the Tempurpedic bed and the use of memory foam on just about every other type of mattress available.

We sure have come a long way from sleeping on a bed of leaves with a rock as a pillow. Thankfully, as man has evolved, so has the mattress and we can now sleep in the most comfort our money can buy.