We’re lucky to be living in a place and age where we can enjoy a luxury like the Ultimate Protection And Comfort Temperature Balancing Mattress Pad or the ultra-soft Warmzone blanket, let alone allergen-free bedding! We’ve been a leader in that business for over 20 years, but what came first? What did people of the past sleep on? Was it quite as comfortable?
That might depend on what you’re used to. The material used to make bedding varied from place to place. In the Neolithic period and beyond, animal skins have been used to provide comfort and warmth. Mattresses of the ancient Roman Empire were stuffed with wool, reeds, feathers, or hay. Sleeping mats in Japan (called futons - still often used today, but not to be confused with our Western futon sofas) were filled with cotton and rolled up during the daytime. The oldest-known bedding, discovered in South Africa not so long ago, were sleeping mats made of mosquito-repelling evergreens.
Beds and bedding were of no small consequence in Europe from about 14th century forward, and the type of bedding you slept on was a pretty good indicator of your class. The poorer classes typically slept on straw or straw mattresses - while not luxurious, certainly more soft and comfortable than a cold, hard floor. By the late 1400s, peasants were more likely to be sleeping not only on a straw mattress, but a straw mattress laid atop a platform raised off the floor (although sleeping raised off the ground goes back to the Neolithic period). Meanwhile, the four-poster canopy bed we often see in Renaissance-era movie scenes made its appearance in the 1500s, and featherbeds and pillows, although thought to be reserved for the very self-indulgent or for the sick, became more popular later that century, too. It wasn’t unusual to find fine linens in a will, passed down from generation to generation.
The late 19th century marks the advent of the box spring, and the rest is history. Beds and bedding have gotten more advanced, more comfortable, and even safer as time has gone on (although let’s not forget the waterbed, which appeared in 1895 and still appears here and there).
For those with allergies and easily-irked backs, the options have only improved! Protect your bedding and appreciate how far we’ve come by resting your head on some down alternative (no goose feathers allowed!) sleep luxury. When we give ourselves some space from our technology and the stress of the day, modern sleep might just be the best sleep yet.