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The History of Beds

For many centuries and across many cultures, the bed and a good nights sleep has been considered an important part of making a home. For 10,000 years, man has sought the perfect bed.  Here’s an interesting account as to how the bed as we know it today has evolved over time. 

3500 BC – Neolithic Period

Our Neolithic ancestors constructed primitive beds for sleeping on. These beds were raised off the ground to avoid drafts, dirt and pests. The first mattress most likely consisted of a pile of leaves, grass or possibly straw with animal skins over it.

3400 BC - Ancient Egypt

In Ancient Egypt, beds were more than a just a place for sleeping. Beds were used as a place to eat meals and entertain socially. Beds found in ancient Egyptian tombs were considered an important part of the after life. King Tutankahmen slept in a bed made of ebony and gold while common people slept on palm bows heaped in the corner of their home.

200 BC -  Ancient Rome

The Romans were the first to enjoy luxury beds of those times. Often decorated with gold, silver or bronze, these beds featured mattresses stuffed with reeds, hay, wool or feathers. The Romans also discovered the waterbed. The sleeper would recline in a cradle of warm water until drowsy, then be lifted onto an adjacent cradle with a mattress, where they would be rocked to sleep.

15th Century - Renaissance

During the Renaissance, mattresses were made of pea shacks or straw, sometimes feathers, stuffed into coarse ticks, then covered with sumptuous velvets, brocades and silks. Louis XIV was fond of lounging in his bed, often holding court in the royal bedroom. He reportedly owned 413 beds, most of which were ultra spacious and very ostentatious.

16th and 17th Centuries

A typical bed of 1600 in its simplest form was a timber frame with rope or leather supports. The mattress was a 'bag' of soft filling, most commonly straw or down covered in plain, cheap fabric. These beds played host to an assortment of vermin.

18th Century

Natural mattress fillings, including coconut fibre, cotton, wool and horse hair replaced the straw or down fillings of previous centuries. These fillings were covered in quality linen or cotton. The mattresses also became tufted or buttoned to hold the fillings and cover together and the edges were stitched. Iron and steel replaced timber frames in the late 18th century. These provided a sleeping space that was less attractive to the vermin which was then found as an everyday component of even the most royal beds.

Mid 19th Century

In 1865 the first coil spring construction for bedding was patented. In 1871, the German, Heinrich Westphal invents the innerspring mattress. He later died in poverty, never having profited from his invention. In 1895 a few water-beds, which resemble large hot water bottles, are sold via mail order by the British store, Harrods.

20th Century

In 1900, the pocket coil mattress was invented by James Marshall. In 1906, the Sealy Mattress Company is formed after buying all patents and knowledge from a US inventor. By the 1930’s innerspring mattresses and upholstered bases swept the market to gain the dominant position they now enjoy worldwide. In the 1950’s the first foam rubber mattresses and pillows appeared on the market. The 1960’s saw the advent of the modern water-bed and adjustable beds become popular with consumers.

21st Century

Consumers are spoilt for choice in today’s bedding and mattress industry. In addition to an almost unlimited range of innerspring mattress designs, new types of memory or visco-elastic foam and latex mattresses as well as airbeds, water-beds and high-tech adjustable beds have also entered the market. For most people, comfort is the single most crucial factor when buying a new mattress and today’s mattresses are built for just that – superior comfort. Luxurious cushioning materials create a plush and comfortable feel and pillowtop mattresses have become a popular innovation in the 21st Century. bedsonline launched Australia's most innovative and informative business to satisfy the discerning needs of Australia's bed buyers seeking the ultimate in value, comfort and support.