Mattress Quiz Thank You!
It’s Chad here – owner of Everything Foam Co.
So… how do you think you did?
When it comes to mattresses. Are you smarter than a 12th grader?
Here’s the ‘answer sheet’!
(We know you’re trustworthy enough to grade yourself!)
1. Where did the word ‘mattress’ originate from?
Answer: The Arabs. The word “mattress” actually is Arabic in origin. The root word of mattress means “to throw something down,” referring to the practice of the time of sleeping on cushions on the floor. The word “mattress” was most likely brought to Europe by the Crusaders.
2. Who first began sleeping on pallets raised off the floor?
Answer: The Egyptians! You can thank the ancient Egyptians for the invention of the raised bed. Egyptian pharaohs began using raised pallets around 3400 BCE. This kept the sleeper off the cold ground and also made it harder for rodents, insects or snakes to crawl over the bed. Made of plain wood (if you were a commoner) or covered with gold, jewels and ebony if you were of high social status, the simple platform bed was topped with a mattress made of wool cushions. Linen sheets and a stone or wooden head support added extra comfort.
The ancient Egyptians did not use pillows on their beds, but instead had a carved headboard that was shaped so that they could lay their neck on it to sleep. Most people would find this very uncomfortable! This brings the phrase “My pillow is as hard as a rock” to a whole new meaning!
3. During the Renaissance period (1350 – 1600) what were mattresses usually filled with?
Answer: Pods from peas, reeds & straw! During the Renaissance, mattresses were often stuffed pea pods (the outer shell that cover peas), straw, or sometimes reeds & stuffed into coarse burlap sacks. As people began creating their mattresses, they became more and more fancy.
Coverings of velvet and expensive silk were common among the wealthy. The introduction of using cotton as stuffing for mattresses in the early 1700’s helped keep bugs out of beds. Cotton was less attractive to insects than the materials previously used to stuff mattresses.
4. In the 1700’s, mattresses used to rest on what?
Answer: Ropes! That’s where the saying “good night, sleep tight” came about when in the 1700’s mattresses used to rest on ropes woven through a bed frame. When the ropes started sagging, people would have to tighten the ropes with a bed key.
5. When was the inner spring mattress invented?
Answer: 1871! That was the year in which German Heinrich Westphal invented the inner spring mattress. He later died in poverty, never having profited from his invention. However, this opened the way for the modern mattress that we know today.
6. When were fitted sheets for mattresses first invented?
Answer: 1958 The fitted sheet – the sheet that goes over the mattress and is the bane of many people’s existence — was first invented in 1958 by Berta Berman.
7. When was ‘memory foam’ first developed as a product for mattresses?
Answer: The ’60’s. Memory foam, the latest in sleep technology, was actually developed in 1966 by Charles Yost under contract for NASA. He had been contracted to develop a cushioning to use for takeoff to relieve the stress caused by the high G-force the astronauts were subjected to. The original product was called T-foam or temper foam. It was never used for its intended purpose as it was not durable enough in its original form.
NASA then sold the formula to medical companies who tried to commercialise it; however, they too struck problems because it was to brittle to be used long term. It was only when a Swedish manufacturing company called Tempurpedic was able to craft a more durable version that still had the same desirable qualities that it was ready to become a commercial product.
It seems incredible that memory foam owes its origins to the Cold War and the space race. So when you go to sleep on your memory foam mattress tonight, think back over the history between the USSR and the USA. They are as much responsible, as Charles Yost, for your comfortable night’s sleep!
More Interesting Facts
1. The phrases, “hit the sack” & “hit the hay” comes from a time when mattresses were made out of a cloth sack and filled with hay or other plant material. People would literally have to beat their bed against the wall or with a stick before they went to bed, to make sure there weren’t bugs or small animals living inside!
2. The largest bed on record was made in the Netherlands and is 86 ft. by 53 ft. That’s an area of 4558 square feet.
A previous entry in the competition for largest bed included the ‘Great Bed of Ware’ constructed in 1590 in England. At 110 square feet, it could comfortably fit 15 people.
For context, one of the largest beds practically used by a person is owned by former NBA superstar Shaquille O’Neal. It’s 450 square feet.
3. Making your bed has always been a daily chore, but did you know that it is actually safer to leave your bed unmade? Dust mites thrive on the moist and warm environment of a made bed. Now you have a reason to skip this chore! Feeling lazy has its privileges sometimes!