Pretty much all of us sleep on one, we spend over a third of our life lying on it, in some cases even more, yet hardly give it a second thought. The NHS estimate of sleep time required for an adult is 6 to 9 hours. We are talking, of course, about the common or garden mattress.
Although they play such a big part in our lives most of us know extraordinarily little about mattresses, their makeup and composition, history, or any obscure trivia around them.
To enhance our knowledge of the subject we caught up with Rob Huffington from Mattress Time and asked him what his top unusual bit of knowledge on the subject would be.
“The first thing that people want to know is usually the most gross facts. Here is one you might not like. Unless you change them regularly your average mattress can wind up with up to ten million dust mites living inside it with you. Dead dust mites, dust mite droppings and your own dead skin cells can be up to ten percent of the weight of your pillow or mattress after eight years. Think about it.”
We have to agree that is a pretty disturbing piece of information. There are some other mattress and bed related facts that are not so troubling, and we list our top ten of them below.
- The word “mattress” is actually of Arabic origin and comes from a word meaning “throw” as bedding was often thrown down onto the ground wherever you were to make it more comfortable to sleep on.
- When it comes to history the Romans had a lot to do with mattresses. Though they originally made mattresses out of wool, reeds or hay they were also responsible for the first waterbed mattress, but it was only for the rich, you were rocked to bed in warm water than carried up to your chambers by servants. They also made the first feather beds.
- Raising the mattress off the ground and putting it on a frame was a key invention that helped distance sleepers from vermin and bugs crawling into bed with them.
- The first coil spring mattress made its appearance in 1857 so this venerable invention has demonstrated its longevity. We still have this type of mattress today.
- The largest bed ever recorded was a Dutch one measuring 86 feet by 53 feet so comfortably larger than the Great bed of Ware which could sleep 15 people!
- Ancient Greek pottery shows examples of folding beds so they are not the revolutionary new idea we thought.
- A rather weird legal holdover is the fact that in Washington State USA it is illegal to buy a mattress on Sundays. This is one that is probably rarely enforced.
- In South Africa archaeologists found a bed that was over 77,000 years old.
- We all say ‘sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite’ but do you know where the saying comes from? In the 18th century some beds were hung from ropes which were tightened to lift them off the floor.
- Finally, if you wanted to be picky about definitions, Japanese traditional mattresses or tatami, are not actually mattresses, they are floor coverings of straw or wood chips compressed together.