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A mattress is a large pad for supporting the reclining body, used as or on a bed. Mattresses may consist of a quilted or similarly fastened case, usually of heavy cloth, that contains hair, straw, cotton, foam rubber, etc., or a framework of metal springs, or they may be inflatable.

The word mattress derives from the Arabic "matrah", which means "to throw down" or "place where something is thrown" or "mat, cushion." During the Crusades Europeans adopted the Arabic method of sleeping on cushions on the floor, and the word materas eventually descended into Middle English through the Romance languages.


  • Neolithic period: The mattress and bed are invented. Beds are raised off the ground to avoid drafts, dirt, and pests. The first mattress probably consists of a pile of leaves, grass, or possibly straw, with animal skins over it.
  • 3600 B.C.: Beds made of goatskins filled with water are used in Persia.
  • 3400 B.C.: Egyptians sleep on palm boughs heaped in the corners of their homes.
  • 200 B.C.: Mattresses in Ancient Rome consist of bags of cloth stuffed with reeds, hay, or wool; the wealthy use feather stuffing.
  • 15th century: During the Renaissance, mattresses are made of pea shucks, straw, or sometimes feathers, stuffed into coarse ticks, and covered with velvets and brocades.
  • 16th and 17th centuries: Mattresses are stuffed with straw or down and placed atop a bed consisting of a timber frame with support latticeworks of rope or leather.
  • Early 18th century: Mattresses are stuffed with cotton or wool.
  • Mid 18th century: Mattress covers begin to be made of quality linen or cotton. The mattress cane box is shaped or bordered, and fillings include natural fibers such as coconut fibre, cotton, wool, and horsehair. The mattress is tufted or buttoned to attach the stuffing to the cover and the edges are stitched.
  • Late 19th century: The box-spring is invented to distribute weight and act as a shock absorber, thereby lengthening the life of an innerspring mattress.
  • 1926: Dunlop introduced a technology to produce vulcanized rubber latex foam. Similar foams still are used in latex mattresses and pillows (hence the name Dunlopillo). Initially it was only sold to British royalty.
  • 1930s: Innerspring mattresses and upholstered foundations become widely used, and artificial fillers become common. Encased coil spring mattresses, which consist of individual springs sewn into linked fabric bags, are introduced.
  • 1940s: Air mattresses constructed of vulcanized rubber-coated fabric are introduced.
  • 1960s: The modern waterbed is introduced and gains its first widespread use. Adjustable beds gain popularity.
  • 1970s: NASA invents material that later becomes known as memory foam.
  • 1970s: A more advanced technology to produce synthetic foam rubber mattresses and pillows enabled factories to mass-market latex foam and reduce the consumption of natural rubber latex.
  • 1992: Tempur-Pedic introduces a mattress made from memory foam.
  • 1992: Fibrelux introduces a mattress made from rubberized coir.
  • 2000: Simmons Bedding Co. invents the "no-flip" mattress, a one-sided construction style that has since been adopted by most North American mattress manufacturers.

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Mattress" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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