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Sleeping Through History: A Brief History of Popular Beds

April 28, 2015


Sleeping Through History: A Brief History of Popular Beds

As long as there have been people, there has been a need for a comfortable and cosy place to sleep. As South Africans we can be proud of the fact that one of the oldest beds in the world has been discovered here. Granted it is nothing special to our modern tastes – there are no springs or foam – but it does inspire a little interest in the history of other iconic beds, such as the mattress bed, Murphy bed and the infamous water bed.

Prior to the emergence of the comfortable mattresses that you see in Bed King Stores, people throughout history have slept on a huge variety of materials in an attempt to keep comfortable and warm. Ancient Egyptians would have bedded down on to a pile of palm fronds while early Anglo-Saxons would have literally hit the sack – stuffing hay and other soft materials into a sack to sleep on. Because of the importance of a good night’s sleep, there has always been constant innovation. One of the most import of which was of course the precursor to the modern mattress. While they might not have looked anything similar or even be slightly comparable in comfort, early mattresses were stuffed with a variety of fibres such as animal hair, coconut hair and feathers. The stuffing was tightly bound into a shaped bundle and then covered with material. While they were definitely a step up in terms of comfort they were still very prone to bedbugs. It would take the invention of the iron bed stand and the cotton mattress to make a deal difference in the fight against bed bugs.

Murphy beds have been around a lot longer than many people think. In fact, in many small households hundreds of years ago it would be common for space to be at a premium and therefore a sleeping space that would only be used a few hours a day was a luxury that few could afford. Instead many opted to have beds that could be stowed away or moved easily when not in use. The Murphy Bed that we now know was invented in 1900 by William Murphy in the USA. This bed was designed to fold up into a closet, allowing people to make the most of their small inner-city apartments.

We might think that the water bed is a recent invention, but it turns out that for thousands of years people have sought out the comfort of water as a sleeping aide. While not quite water beds as we know them, ancient people such as the Romans and the Persians would relax on goat-skinned beds that were filled with water. However the impracticality of such a luxury made water beds die out for thousands of years until they were revitalized by hospitals as a means to relieve pressure on patients in pain. Harrods, the British department store did offer waterbeds in the late 1890s, but it was not until the widespread availability of vinyl that waterbeds really took off however. Becoming synonymous with the hippie revolution, these waterbeds became the must have sleep accessory for any hip pad. However due to the insurance and other risks involved, they slowly fell out of mainstream popularity.

Today Bed King is proud to offer you the latest bed technology: Memory Foam. This bed material was designed by NASA and mould to your body shape offering you an exceptionally comfortable sleeping option. While memory foam was too expensive for public use when it was developed in the 1960s, nowadays the prices have dropped extensively while new gel memory foam has been introduced, making this a highly sought after sleep solution.

But beds didn’t stop there. Nowadays Bed King offers a huge variety of mattress types in a variety of sizes and of course at the best prices to suit your sleep needs.


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