In the modern day, it is easy to go to a bed shop and test out all of the mattresses they have on offer, in a variety of different sizes and types to ensure maximum comfort when you sleep.
If only this level of luxury was accessible hundreds of years ago!
Back then, you had to rely on your creative skills or the craftsmanship of someone around you to make sure that you were not sleeping on the cold hard floor! Here at Dreamers we take a look at the history of the bed and how we’ve come from straw to sleeping soundly.
Before the 19th century – Whatever you could get your hands on!
The idea of the mattresses that we have today was an alien thought pre 1800, as many people made their own places to sleep through any materials that they could yield. This includes straw, feathers or even horse hair, sounds comfy, right? This is because there was no universal material to fill mattresses with that a sufficient level of comfort while sleeping, so there would often be a large disparity of what people could afford to use at this time.
1871 – The first innerspring mattress
Even though the coil spring was invented in 1857, this revolutionary mattress was first invented 14 years later by a German called Heinrich Westphal, but he spent much of his life living in poverty meaning his invention only really woke up 60 years later. However, the fact that it had been invented and thought of during this time really provided the springboard for this to be adjusted into the mass produced mattress of the 20th century.
1900-‘s – Beds as we know them today
During this time the metal coil mattresses that are still widely used today skyrocketed in popularity. But it is important to know that there were other bed types that were tested during this time, as the century of creativity was only just beginning. However other types of beds were creating during the 1900’s including water beds, and mattresses made of latex foam, but the metal coil’s variants became immensely popular in the 1930’s and were for the rest of the 20th century.
These alternative types of beds were popular, and it is important not to discount them, but the coil spring truly was king during this period. Speaking of king, the king and queen sized beds were introduced during the 1940’s-60’s. This was to promote better sleeping and to accommodate the growing (literally!) population.
2000’s – Foam lives long in the memory
Although invented in the 1960’s, memory foam mattresses were only mass produced for commercial use in the 21st century. It was often used in medical settings to relieve pain before it was made available for mattresses, but it made its way into the field of beds by becoming a comfier and less squeaky alternative than the metal coil. Due to its widespread availability in the modern day, this is now the mattress of choice if you are looking for a new, comfy bed.
Heinrich Westphal, we salute you!
The bed has come a long way since it’s origins, but it’s safe to say that we are glad to be sleeping on a comfy, memory foam mattress or open coil spring mattress as opposed to the makeshift straw and feathers that were used hundreds of years ago.