What’s one of the most rewarding things to do at the end of the day? If you’re like us, it’s slipping into bed and drifting off to welcome sleep! Many of us know the importance, a good mattress has on our sleep. No one wants to lay down on a bumpy, saggy surface and wake up with aches and pains. But, mattresses, as we know, weren’t always so comfy and supportive. They evolved from rudimentary surfaces to plusher pads and mattresses built using the latest technologies. Today, mattresses don’t just provide comfort and support. They can even cool the body and keep bugs at bay. Join us as we take a look at the evolution of mattresses.
The first mattresses seem to have been created in the Neolithic period, some 10,000 odd years or so. They were far removed from the ones we know today and would have consisted of just leaves and animal skins. Though not at all plush, they did provide some comfort compared to the hard ground. It took many more ages before beds began to be raised from the floor and look like what we’re familiar with today.
The ancient Egyptians had more advanced beds or cots although they were still not luxurious. The beds were elevated and made of palm leaves. The wealthy class slept on more ornate beds. Instead of soft pillows, headrests were carved into the beds as they were cooler to use in the hot Egyptian climate.
When King Tutankhamun’s tomb was found, archeologists discovered several beds within. One stood out among the rest as it had three layers made of light hardwood. It resembled a camping bed and could be folded. It appears that the bed was made especially for the king as there doesn’t seem to be evidence of more like it.
As time moved towards the Roman period (around 700 BC), beds began to be made more luxurious. They were likely used by the upper crust of society as they were decorated with precious metals and the mattresses were filled with materials like hay and wool. Commoners would have used beds far less luxurious but more so than those used by the ancient Egyptians. They were basically bags filled with hay.
More improvements were made to beds and mattresses in the Renaissance period. They became even more luxurious and elaborate. The four-poster bed came into being and became hugely popular. Testers were added to the bed to support side drapes and provide sleepers with warmth and privacy. Mattresses were stuffed with straw or feather and covered with soft velvet and silk. As for the poor, mattresses would have been filled with straw but without expensive covers.
This period saw the creation of cast iron beds. They were handmade and were soon mass-produced. Mattresses saw a change too as linen and cotton became popular covers. The combination of iron beds and linen/cotton mattresses helped create a more bug-free environment which wasn’t possible with the older wooden beds.
The coil spring was patented in 1865 and 1871, Heinrich Westphal invented the first inner coil spring. He didn’t receive much recognition for it, and he died before he saw it turn into the phenomenon it became. In 1895, British store Harrods sold waterbeds through mail order.
At the turn of the century, James Marshall invented the pocket coil spring mattress which soon became popular. It wasn’t until the mid-20th century that foam rubber mattresses came into the market. Futons were also introduced, and waterbeds made a comeback. In the 1980s, air beds were introduced and became sought-after mattresses for their convenience.
The 21st century has seen some of the most remarkable progress with mattresses. Memory foam, which was first developed by NASA in the 1970s to improve aircraft seat cushioning, began to be used in mattresses and pillows. Materials like latex were also used and still are. The introduction of added layers like gel foam and hypoallergenic covers have made contemporary mattresses many times superior to their ancestors.
Nuvanna uses a combination of memory and gel foam to provide better sleep possible. It’s designed by a mattress scientist with more than 20 years of experience. It features three layers that all have a role to play in your sleep. The top layer uses phase-changing gel particles to draw out body heat and disperse it to keep you cool and prevent sweating. The middle layer absorbs motion to prevent one person’s movement from disturbing the other. The bottom layer uses a support system that keeps the body properly supported and prevents it from sinking in.
Mattresses continue to be tested and developed with new technologies and materials. We now have products that cater to different sleeping positions, regulate body temperature, and prevent back pain, to name a few. It’s an exciting time we’re living in as we look forward to how mattresses will continue to evolve and give us the sleep we need to become our best selves.