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History of the Bed

History of the Bed Header

Sleep is an integral part of everyone's life. Each night, we look forward to the warmth of our bedroom and a full night's sleep. It affects your mood, relationships, productivity and energy for the day. While you sleep, your brain goes to work by retaining important information from the day and recharging. This can only be achieved by a good night's sleep on your bed. The comfortable linens, ultra plush mattress and contoured pillow all come together to provide the ultimate in comfort. However, beds haven't always been like this. The history of the bed's transformation over the years is a fascinating journey from piles of straw and rocks to memory foam and customizable mattresses.

21 Interesting Facts About the Bed

  • During the Neolithic period 10,000 years ago, primitive man began sleeping on rocks covered with straw, grass and animal skins.
  • Bed frames discovered in Egypt date back to the Early Dynastic period around 3100 B.C.
  • Around 3400 B.C., the pharaohs discover the benefits of placing their beds on raised platforms.
  • King Tutankhamen had a bed of ebony and gold.
  • Portrait of King Louis XIV of France

Louis XIV was very fond of beds and staying in them. He would often hold court in the royal bedroom in the Château de Versailles. He owned 413 beds which were all decorated with elaborate and ornate detailing.

  • The first luxury bed, decorated with gold, silver and bronze dates back to the Roman Empire. These beds featured mattresses stuffed with reeds, hay and feather.
  • Romans invent the waterbed.
Illustration of the Princess and the Pea Fairytale

“The Princess and the Pea” is a famous story by Hans Christian Anderson and tells the story of a young woman whose royal identity is established by a test of her physical sensitivity to a single pea, placed under 7 mattresses. Although not directly related, the 11th-century ”Kathasaritsagara” by Somadeva (collection of Indian legends) tells a story of a young man who slept on top of seven mattresses and fresh sheets but wakes up  in great pain. A crooked red mark was found on his body and it was later found that a single hair was found on the bottom-most mattress of the bed.

  • The ancient Greeks developed a multi-purpose bed called the "Kline" Constructed from either wood, iron or bronze, the Kline served as a place for dining, leisure and sleep.

  • During the 16th and 17th centuries, mattresses were stuffed with down or straw and were placed on latticework of rope.
  • Shaker Style Bed with Rope Lattice Support

The phrase “sleep tight” comes from 16th and 17th centuries when the mattress was placed atop ropes and needed to be tightened for the night.

  • The 18th century brought about the cast iron bed and cotton stuffed mattresses.
  • Napoleon Bonaparte popularized the Sleigh bed through France during the Empire period.
  • The first coil spring bedding was patented in 1865.
The Great Bed of Ware

The Great Bed of Ware is a massive bed with four large oak bedposts, decorated with marquetry and was constructed in 1590 by carpenter Jonas Fosbrooke. This bed measures 10 by 11 feet and can fit over 15 people at once!  William Shakespeare mentioned the Great Bed of Ware in his play ‘Twelfth Night’, which was performed in 1601. It is displayed in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

  • Innerspring mattresses and upholstered foundations became popular during the 1930’s.
  • Foam rubber mattresses and pillows appeared in on the market during the 1950’s.
  • Queen size mattress are amongst the most popular size in North America.
  • The word Futon comes from Japan and means “bedding” The modern design of the futon was created by William Brouwer during the late 1970’s.
  • NASA develops a material known as “memory foam” and was introduced by Tempur-Pedic as a mattress in 1992.
  • Variations of coil mattresses; Bonnell, Offset coil, Marshall and continuous coil are offered.

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