The History of the Mattress

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You’ve slept on one almost every night of your life. It’s critical to a good night’s sleep and your overall health. But how did the mattress come to be and what do modern versions offer?

Early History

The word mattress comes from an ancient Arabic word pronounced matrah, meaning “something thrown down.” According to the Smithsonian, the oldest mattress in the world dates to nearly 77,000 years ago. During the Middle Eastern crusades of the eleventh century, Europeans saw local Arabs sleeping on cushions on the floor and adopted the practice in their home countries.

Centuries of Straw

From their early introduction into Western civilization until the mid-nineteenth century, mattresses were made at home from materials on hand like straw, horse hair and feathers piled beneath a simple cloth or blanket. Some beds were placed on the floor, while others were built on a platform of wood, crisscrossed rope or iron bed frame. When the bed became uncomfortable, its contents were fluffed or replaced.

Introducing the Spring

In the late 1800s, mattresses in North America started incorporating an innerspring core built between layers of fiberfill or cotton batting. Construction evolved to include pads over the coils to prevent the top layers from sinking into the springs. Most of the twentieth century saw thick cotton-canvas covers and beds that could be fully flipped and rotated.

Modern Construction

There are three main categories of modern mattresses: innerspring, all-foam and hybrid models that incorporate the best of both designs. Foam models are made of synthetic materials like latex, viscoelastic and flexible polyurethane foam. Some models have built-in pillow tops, or you can add one post-purchase. Your personal preference for firmness, heat absorption and motion transfer will help determine which type is best for you.


Call 1-888-543-5152 today and let the experts at Bedding Mart help you select the best mattress for a great night’s sleep.

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  • Kevin Spencer