The Complete History of the Mattress

Published on 7 December 2022

Posted in Blog

Mattresses are a massive part of our everyday lives and it’s strange to think that they didn’t actually start off as they are today. Just like everything else, mattresses have been through thousands of years of evolution to become the comfortable, warm and inviting items that they are today. The history of the mattress starts a long time ago and can be traced back to simple, primitive piles of leaves in the stone age.

Early Mattresses

The earliest proof of mattress usage came from fossils of leaf piles covered with animal hides. The leaves provided enough give to let people roll around, while the hide on top kept the leaves from scratching the skin.


Fast forward to ancient Egypt in 3100-1200 BC. Their mattresses were the first to be raised off the ground. Often found in the homes of the rich, beds with long legs and sloped backs allowed their owners to stay off the floor away from the dirt and insects.

The initial material was a combination of woven palm leaves but later developed into actual fabrics.


The very first luxury mattresses were built in the Roman period from 753 BC – 476 AD. They were especially for the rich and decorated with gold, silver and bronze. They weren’t the most comfortable things to sleep on though as they were stuffed with reeds, hay or wood shavings.


The Renaissance period was the first era where comfort really started to be considered. The mattresses, of which Louis XIV owned 413, were filled with pea shucks and covered in velvet, brocades and silk.

The Industrial Revolution And The Development of Mattresses

Mattresses as we know them today, with their cotton covering and coil spring construction began life in the industrial revolution in 1700 AD. These mattresses were raised on metal frames to keep away rats and insects, helping to prevent the spread of disease.

In 1895, Harrods began to sell waterbeds via mail order to those who could afford a little luxury.

Modern Day Mattresses

Speaking of luxury, we move into the 20th century, where the box spring mattress aimed to reduce the lumps and bumps felt by sleepers. This aimed to resolve back problems.

To spruce up the design of the mattress, they were then made to match the remainder of the bed with upholstered bases covered in velvet or cotton fabric. They were the ‘in thing’ for the décor conscious.

In the late 1950s, the foam mattress was introduced, creating a softer foundation to sleep on.

The Mattresses Of Today

In the early 1990s, mattresses were beginning to be designed with comfort in mind. No longer concerned with the appearance, a good mattress was one that provided the perfect night’s sleep.

We now have the luxury to choose from an unlimited number of combinations when it comes to our mattresses. There are memory foam mattresses to mould to our shape and even mattresses that zip together in the middle so one partner can have firm, while the other has soft. Whatever your mattress needs, has the perfect solution for you. Bed hire allows businesses to always be prepared for sudden influxes in visitors, even at short notice. If you’d like to enquire about our bed hire services, contact today and we’ll be happy to help.

Back to News