The mattress is so ubiquitous that often we take it for granted. It doesn’t take many nights sleeping without one to realise how fantastic they are. Even one night on a hard surface like a floor or the ground is more than enough for most of us. Naturally, mattresses have not always been a part of human life, so just what is the history of the mattress?
Way back in the Neolithic Period, humans were sleeping on animal hides, straw, grass or any other softer material they could get their hands on. This was the dawn of a new era of sleeping, a monumental step in the science of sleep comfort.
The next major steps were taken by Egyptians, Greeks and Persians, amongst a number of other early civilisations. They began to construct beds out of wood, stone and other available materials, with a variety of materials on top to add comfort. The Persians even slept on goatskins filled with water, the earliest known waterbed.
The next major development wouldn’t come for another 1500 years, when long stuffed fabric mattress began to appear. These were generally made of silk or velvet and stuffed with feathers or straw.
It was in the 18th and 19th Century that mattresses we would recognise today began appearing, filled wool and cotton. In the mid 19th Century, the first spring mattresses began to be produced, and are similar in design to those still produced today.
The final step in the history of mattresses occurred in the 1970 and 1980s when memory foam, an offshoot of work NASA had done on foam, began to be used in the manufacturing of mattresses, giving us space aged beds.