You really don’t think about the origins of your bed, yet you spend so much of your lifetime in it, am I wrong? It’s funny how contradictory we humans can be. Well, let me sparkle your curiosity with this interesting fact: the bed you have in your bedroom, in which you spend most of your nights sleeping or not, has some rich history behind, and no, it’s not as simple as: “it’s a king size because kings used to sleep in such a bed”.
The earliest historical record of bed mattress sizes is under a huge question mark since historians really can’t agree on it. There are records dating 77 000 years back in South Africa, where evidence from the ancient people of Sibudu was found in the form of a bed construction. Their beds were made from sedge grass where the aromatic leaves acted as a natural insecticide repelling mosquitos and creating a pleasant ambiance for sleeping. Since the Sibudu people were believed to be nomads who travelled often, these beds were burned and there are hardly any traces left behind. Another standing for the earliest bed dates 10 000 years ago back in the Neolitic period when it’s believed the first primitive beds were invented.
The first actual (modern) bed
The modern bed we know today, a flat piece of elevated furniture, dates back 3500 years B.C. in Egypt, with Egyptian pharaohs being the first people to sleep on a piece of furniture that was lifted. The most famous bed from that period belonged to King Tutankahmon and was made of ebony and gold, while common people who weren’t kings nor rich enough to possess such a bed, slept on palm bows. The first modern bed we know today originated in the era of the Roman Empire, when Romans stuffed their mattresses with hay, wool and feathers and decorated the frame with gold and silver. Romans were also the first to discover the waterbed which consisted of a cradle full of warm water and another adjacent cradle with a mattress. The sleeper would stay in the warm water for a while and then would be lifted in the other cradle and be rocked until falling asleep. As the first modern beds, these bed mattress sizes didn’t have more than a 2.5metres to 2 metres of surface, and it’s hardly doubtful that a king slept on them.
Louis XIV and his obsession with beds
Louis XIV was the kind of man who loved his bed so much he often held court meetings in the comfort of his bedroom. These beds were truly king sized mattresses; they were large and had a very rich design with embroideries enriched with pearls and figures on gold and silver ground. Reportedly, he owned 413 beds like that, or closely similar.
The modern era starts with James Marshall who patented the wrapped coil spring which was unbelievably costly because it was made manually. However, in 1930s innerspring mattresses and upholstered foundations started emerging on the market and creating serious competition. And in 1958, the first palette of bed mattress sizes was introduced by Simmons. King and queen sized beds and two single beds marketed as a pair, or commonly known as a twin bed.
In short, the most common mattress sizes on the market today have nothing to do with kings and queens being the inventors. However, their luxurious design and appearance most certainly was under the influence of the lush life they lived.