From King Tut to King Size – The History of the Bed

Our ancient ancestors really didn’t enjoy sleeping on a cold, hard surface. Since the beginning of recorded time, people have made efforts to make their sleeping experience softer and more comfortable, even if that just meant throwing an animal skin over a pile of leaves.

Thanks to the efforts and passion of archaeologists, we know that ancient man was attempting to make  nights more comfortable — and by extension, more restful — by creating a surface on which to lay his weary bones that was a bit more forgiving than a cold stone floor or the bare ground. Animal hides covered piles of leaves, reeds, straw, moss, or whatever could provide a little cushioning.

We also know that as far back as 3,500 BC, Egyptian pharaohs were taking the concept of beds to new levels — literally — by sleeping on raised structures covered in soft materials. (The peasants still had to make do with more rudimentary sleeping arrangements!) Raising the bed served a practical purpose. It kept insects and other creepy crawlers from disturbing the sleep of these exalted rulers by crawling inside their royal mouths, ears and noses!

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The Egyptians weren’t the only culture in search of a better bed. Roman emperors also slept on structures so high that they had to have their own staircase to facilitate getting into bed at night and out again in the morning. Unlike the beds of the pharaohs, which were stone affairs, the Roman emperors had wooden beds which were intricately carved and gilded. Their “mattresses” were still stuffed with soft materials like straw, wool or feathers, though, since coil-spring mattresses were still millennia away from being imagined or manufactured. However, for the times, their beds were considered quite luxurious, even though they usually weren’t large enough to accommodate more than two people at most.

It wasn’t until well after the invention of the coil-spring mattress in 1900 (thank you, James Marshall!), that anything larger than a 2-person mattress would be come a “thing”. So who is responsible for the Queen size and King size mattresses that most adults use today? None other than the Simmons Company, who came up with the concept in the late ’50s — 1958 to be precise. Years later, these beds named after monarchs, became quite famous after being featured by the likes of Life magazine and other national publications.

A few years later, in the early ’60s, a California furniture company began making even larger custom-sized beds for wealthy people, and these giants (72″ x 84″) went into mass production in the mid-60s. The longer size (regular king size mattresses are 4 inches wider but also 4 inches shorter) was especially good for extra-tall people who were understandably tired of having to hang their feet over the end of the bed at night!

Of course, a larger sleeping area not only calls for larger bedding to fit it, but also for larger pillows, which is why today there are Standard, Queen and King size pillows as well as properly sized sheets, blankets, comforters, etc.

Speaking of pillows, size isn’t the only thing that matters. Having the wrong pillow can put a serious dent in a good night’s sleep as much as having a mattress that doesn’t offer proper support for your body. Sleep on the wrong pillow, and you’re likely to wake up with a stiff neck and a poorly rested body as well regardless of how wonderfully your mattress supports you. Luckily, you’ve got resources like Queen Anne Pillow Company to turn to! We’ve got top-quality 100% down pillows, synthetic down pillows, hypoallergenic pillows and more! Why not contact us today to learn more about our luxurious pillows and how we can help you sleep better tonight and every night?

Photo by Andrew Dong on Unsplash