You’ve probably never given it much thought, but the humble mattress is actually a pretty interesting example of human ingenuity. They’re based on a very simple concept and a very basic human need (the need for a good night’s sleep!) yet they’re anything but basic!
They’ve actually had a pretty long and colourful history, and today’s modern mattresses have plenty of fascinating quirks! If you’re curious to know more about the mattress you sleep on every night, read on below.
Here are 10 weird or unusual facts about your mattress that we bet you didn’t know.
The earliest known example of a mattress dates back to around 77,000 years ago. The ‘mattress’ was found in a small rock shelter and was made from layers of reeds and rushes. Over time, mattresses became more advanced with later examples from Ancient civilisations like Egypt being designed to sit raised off the ground.
The word for mattress is Arabic in origin and comes from ‘Matrah’ which means something akin to ‘throw’. It referred to the practice of throwing a pillow down to sleep on, which is something the Arabian’s would do. It’s believed that the word was introduced to Europe around the time of the Crusades. The Europeans, who were sleeping on much coarser straw bedding at the time, were quite impressed by the soft throw pillows of the Persian’s.
The Persian’s are also credited as being the ones to first invent water beds. They did this around 3600 A.D, but it wasn’t until much later that the idea was revisited by physician Neil Arnott in 1833 - he believed that water could help to relieve the bed sores of his patients. The water bed again became popular in the 1960s, reaching the height of its popularity in the late 80s.
In the late 1800s and early 1900s it was common for mattresses to be held in place on the bed frame by woven ropes, rather than timber slats. These ropes often needed to be tightened to ensure that the mattress wouldn’t sag onto the floor, which is why the phrase ‘sleep tight’ came into popular use. Mattresses around that time were also often stuffed with straw, feathers and corn or pea husks, which were very attractive to bed bugs and this led to ‘sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite’ becoming a common refrain!
Although the idea of tightening your bed doesn’t have much relevance today, creepy crawlies unfortunately still exist! Whilst modern mattresses are far less prone to bed bug infestations than they once were, they remain common throughout many parts of the world, and there’s a very good chance you’ve got a different type of critter crawling around in your mattress - the dreaded dust mite! Dust mites are a microscopic insect that love to breed in warm, humid environments. They also love to feed off human skin cells. If you’ve had your mattress for a while, there’s a good chance you have an infestation. Read our tips on cleaning your mattress for advice on how to manage them.
It comes as a bit of a shock to find out just how recently fitted sheets were invented when you consider how long mattresses have been around. Invented by Bertha Berman in the 50s, fitted sheets were developed as a solution to the fact that sheets would just never stay put. Bertha’s patented design was hugely innovative, but the sheets would still pop off the corners of the mattress. It wasn’t until 1993 when Gisele Jubinville created the design that we know (and struggle to fold) today. Read here for tips on how to fold your fitted sheet.
Whilst the standard Australian super king bed size provides more than enough space for most of us, it’s far from the largest mattress in the world! In fact, the largest bed in the world (according to the Guinness Book of Records) measures in at 2,650 cm long x 1,644 cm wide, considerably larger than the 203 cm x 203 cm size of a super king mattress.
Did you know that your memory foam mattress has space age origins? The material may be common in mattresses today, but it was originally intended for use by astronauts. NASA invented the foam back in the 1970s to help cushion astronauts against G-force pressure that they would experience when being launched into space. It wasn’t until later that the possibilities of the visco-elastic foam were explored.
The Hastens Vividus bed is the world's most expensive bed. Touted as one of the most luxurious sleep experiences in the world, the bed is owned by the likes of Drake and Cristiano Ronaldo. The luxury bed takes upwards of 600 hours to assemble and is hand stitched in Sweden. You won’t find anything with anywhere near that price tag at Bedshed, but if you’re in the market for a top-quality mattress made from luxury materials, browse our Kingsdown, Insignia or Tempur range of mattresses!
Some sleeping positions offer more health benefits than others. In particular, the Zero Gravity or Zero-G sleep position has been shown to offer numerous health benefits because it takes the pressure off your circulatory and respiratory position by elevating the head and legs. It is however a difficult sleeping position to achieve without the assistance of an adjustable bed. If you want to find out more about healthy sleeping positions, read here.
Mattress dominoes is a real record category. Yes, people have stacked mattresses up on their side to see how many they can knock over and the record is actually quite impressive - 1,001 mattress dominoes in Shanghai in 2012!
Many of us are surprised to find out that there actually is a point in time when mattresses should be thrown away. The average age of a mattress is around the 7-8 year mark for most brands, although this can vary. As mattresses get older they tend to sag or begin to break down, which means they no longer provide the correct level of support (and often become lumpy and uncomfortable in the process). Mattresses can also become dangerous to our health over time as the buildup of dust and skin cells often attracts dust mites which can cause allergies. Read this article, to find out more about when it’s time to replace your mattress.
If all these weird and wacky facts about mattresses have got you thinking it might be time to buy a new one, then visit us in-store today or try our handy mattress selector online for helping finding the perfect one!
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Bedshed is one of Australia's largest mattress, bedding and bedroom furniture retailers. We carry ranges of beds, bedroom suites, children's bedroom furniture, headboards & bases and mattresses from brands like Sealy, Sleepmaker, Tempur, Kingsdown, Dreamsense and Insignia, as well as a wide range of manchester and pillows.