19 Fascinating Facts About Beds, Bedding and the History of Sleep
What's the one place in your home that you can rest in comfort and shed the cares of your stressful day? It's your bedroom—specifically your bed. We all love to sleep—some probably adore it so much they sleep half their day away. Beds have been around for centuries to aid in our sleep. They have been recreated over and over again to provide the rising high demand in support, comfort and other growing needs.
Beds have quite the history too. We all love our bed and the zzz's we catch there, but how much do we really know about this grand piece of furniture? Here are a handful of fun facts about beds:
- Wouldn't it be great to sleep in a bed made completely of ebony and gold? King Tut slept in this luxurious bed each night. His citizens, however, weren't so lucky; they were forced to slumber on palm branches.
- Today, the most popular mattress size over any other mattress size is the queen.
- People in the 15th century packed their mattresses with feathers, pea pods, horse hair or straw and covered them with coarse, tough material. If you were rich, you could afford to cover your mattresses with velvet or silk.
- The first steel and iron beds were developed in the 18th century replacing the standard wooden frame that was popular at that time. In this same century, mattress fillings were greatly improved to materials of cotton, coconut fiber, and wool. Filling a mattress with these materials didn't attract the vermin and bugs.
- Numerous US homes in the 1940s weren't as big as they are now. Many people didn't have a lot of space, or they needed to save what area they had. So the futon bed was born. Since then, this bed continues to be popular—especially for apartment dwellers.
- Do you know what TV show was the first to have a scene with the couple in the same bed? If you said The Munsters, Bewitched or I Love Lucy, you'd be wrong. It was the 1947 show, Mary Kay and Johnny. Perhaps the reason this wasn't censored because the show aired on a local TV station rather than a network. After 1948, however, networks banned TV shows from showing a couple in bed together for 20 years. TV sure has come a long way!
- Waterbeds are an interesting invention. But did you know that it was actually made more than 3,000 years ago? In Persia, the very first waterbed was created with goatskin and stuffed with water. A more modern waterbed was created in 1873 by Neil Arnott; it was used in a hospital to treat and prevent bed sores. Twenty-two years later the bed, which resembled a huge hot water bottle, became available by mail order from a British store; unfortunately, there weren't enough materials so it kind of died out. However, when vinyl was invented in the 1960s the waterbed rose in popularity and it was given the name "Pleasure Pit."
- Did you know most people in Japan don't sleep in beds? They rest on a shikibuton which is a simple cushioned pallet about three or four inches thick. It goes on the floor and, in the morning, they roll or fold it up and store it somewhere. This allows them to use rooms for something else through the day.
- In the 16th and 17th century, the first box-spring had ropes that were stretched and tied across the bed frame to form a web under the mattress. When the lines became slack, they pulled tight for a better night's sleep; thus, the famous phrase, "Sleep tight."
- If you think your pillow is uncomfortable, be thankful you didn't live as a first Egyptian! They used to carve a piece of wood for their neck. Even with some sort of covering, this would be hard on your neck!
- The original coil system mattress is from 1865 and has a patent. This paved a path for the mattress we have today.
- Without a doubt, the Murphy bed is a fascinating creation. It was designed in the 1900s by an American, William Lawrence Murphy. But what was so astonishing about this bed was that when you were done using it, you folded it up into the wall. What a space-saver! Mr. Murphy got a patent in 1908 for his bed but never trademarked the "Murphy Bed" name.
- No matter what you do, over years of use, your bed will accumulate dust mites. In a 10-year period, your bed will have thousands upon thousands of these tiny pests and your mattress will double its initial weight. Wow!
- If you have a foam rubber pillow, chances are you don't want to part with it. They became popular in the 1950s. Today, many mattresses continue to have foam rubber as a critical element.
- Some of you may have helped flip or rotate mattresses on the beds every season or at least twice a year. If you did it growing up, you probably still do this today. But thanks to the no-flip mattress from 2000, there's no need to do this anymore. Hey, maybe it's time to buy a new mattress!
- Air beds have improved dramatically since first being invented in the late 19th century as a way of relieving pressure on one's body. In the 1980s, vinyl air beds took over and, nowadays, are used mainly for house guests and camping.
- According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the biggest bed was made in the Netherlands in May 2011. It measured 53 ft. 11 in. wide by 86 ft. 11 in. long. Holy cow!
- Bunk beds are lots of fun for children and make impressive forts. Have you ever wondered who invented them? Well, no one knows for sure, but they're thought to date back to medieval times as a space-saving method for the poor—wow! Bunk beds began to gain fame when the armed forces decided they'd be a terrific way to house two times the number of soldiers. During the 1980s, TV shows like The Brady Bunch made these beds well-known, and the popularity of bunk beds hasn't died down since.
- Are you curious what the priciest bed in the world is? It's the Baldacchino Supreme bed that's handcrafted out of chestnut, ash and cherry wood as well as 24-carat solid gold. It's adorned with fancy applications that look like gold leaves and, for some more bling, the headboard can have customizable diamonds or other stones implanted. This gorgeous bed is covered with only the finest cotton and Italian silk. So what's the price of this lavish bed? $6.3 million!