Discover the History of Mattresses: Uncovering Who Invented the First Mattress

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Who invented mattresses? It’s a question that has been asked for centuries. The answer is not as simple as it may seem. While the exact inventor of the mattress is unknown, the history of the bed and its transformation over the centuries is fascinating. From ancient Egyptians to the modern-day mattress, learn the story of the bed’s evolution and its inventors along the way.

Early Mattresses (1600s – 1800s)

Early Mattresses (1600S - 1800S)


Before the 1600s, people would sleep on mats or animal skins spread out on the floor or on a wooden platform. In the 1600s, the first mattresses were developed, filled with cotton, feathers, or horsehair. When were mattresses invented? Mattresses in the 1600s were not as soft and comfortable as the ones we enjoy today.


In the 1700s, the mattress industry began to expand. New materials, such as wool, were used to fill mattresses, increasing their comfort. In the late 1700s, the first spring mattresses were developed, using a system of coiled springs to provide support.


In the 1800s, advances in technology led to the invention of the innerspring mattress, which featured a steel coil system for support. In the late 1800s, the first mattress with a zoned support system was invented, offering varying levels of support for different parts of the body. This was the forerunner of today’s memory foam mattresses.

The First Mattress

The First Mattress

The earliest mattresses date back to the Neolithic Period. Primitive mattresses were made of a variety of materials including straw, feathers, and animal skins. In the Middle Ages, mattresses were made of wool, hair, and reeds, while in the 1800s, they were made of cotton and other plant-based materials. What were mattresses made of in the 1800s? Generally, they contained cotton or wool batting and were stuffed with down or feathers.

In the late 1800s, the mattress saw its first major technological advancement. In 1889, a German immigrant named Heinrich Westphal invented an innerspring mattress, which used metal coils to support the sleeper. This new invention quickly became popular, and by the early 1900s, innerspring mattresses had become the most common type of mattress in the United States.

Mattresses in the Early 1900s

Mattresses In The Early 1900S

The early 1900s saw the development of the modern mattress as we know it today. Before this, mattresses were mostly made from a variety of materials, such as feathers, straw, cotton, and even wool. What were mattresses made of in the 1700s? Mattresses of this era were often filled with straw, feathers, and other materials to provide cushioning and comfort.

The invention of steel springs and coils in the early 1900s revolutionized mattress construction. These springs and coils allowed mattresses to be made thinner and more comfortable than ever before. This development created the classic mattress design that is still popular today.

The use of foam and other synthetic materials in the 1950s and 1960s further improved mattresses, making them softer and more comfortable. By the end of the 20th century, mattresses were widely available in a variety of sizes, shapes, and materials. This allowed for more customization than ever before, allowing people to find the perfect mattress for their individual needs.

Mattresses in the 1950s

Mattresses In The 1950S

In the 1950s, the mattresses of the time were made of steel and wood frames and filled with cotton, foam and feathers. The mattress was the main source of comfort for people and had the power to transform a bedroom into a comfortable sleeping space. When was the first mattress invented? As early as the 1950s, mattresses were already in existence and had already been improved upon.

Mattress Material Features
Steel and Wood Frames Durability, support
Cotton Softness, comfort
Foam Conformability, breathability
Feathers Cushioning, softness

The use of these materials allowed for mattresses to provide comfort and support to the sleeper, while also being able to maintain its shape and durability. The combination of these materials in the 1950s allowed for mattresses to become more comfortable than ever before.

Modern Mattresses

Modern mattresses have come a long way since their beginnings in the early 1900s, when mattresses were typically made of cotton, wool, and horsehair. In recent years, various types of foam, latex, and innerspring mattresses have become popular. Today, there is a variety of mattress construction types, such as memory foam, hybrid innerspring, and adjustable air mattresses, all of which offer comfort, support, and a variety of features. Memory foam mattresses are well-known for providing a comfortable, contoured sleeping experience and are ideal for people who suffer from back pain. Hybrid innerspring mattresses are a combination of an innerspring system with a foam or latex top layer and are great for those who need additional support. Adjustable air mattresses are another popular option, as they can be adjusted to different firmness levels to provide the perfect feel for any sleeper.

Frequently Asked Questions

What were the earliest mattresses made of?

The earliest mattresses were mostly made from natural materials, such as:

  • Straw: straw mattresses were the most common type of mattress used in ancient times. They were filled with straw, feathers, or grass and were usually placed on wooden bed frames.
  • Cotton: cotton mattresses were also popular during this period. The cotton was usually stuffed into a bag and was then placed on a frame.
  • Wool: wool mattresses were made by stuffing wool into a bag and then placing it on a frame.
  • Horsehair: horsehair mattresses were made from the hair of horses and were usually placed on wooden bed frames.
  • Feathers: feathers were also used to make mattresses. Feathers were usually stuffed into a bag and then placed on a frame.

These natural materials provided a comfortable and supportive sleeping surface and were used until the invention of the modern mattress.

When Were the First Mattresses Made Available for Purchase?

Late 19th Century saw the emergence of the first mattresses available for purchase. These were:

  • Innerspring mattresses – Developed in 1871 by Heinrich Westphal.
  • Foam mattresses – Developed in the 1940s by chemist Earnest Bunn.
  • Air mattresses – Developed in the 1960s by Charles Hall.

These mattresses revolutionized the way people slept, offering greater comfort and support. They quickly became popular among consumers, allowing the mattress industry to flourish.

What is the Difference Between Traditional and Modern Mattresses?

Traditional mattresses are usually made of natural materials like cotton, wool, feathers and animal hair, while modern mattresses are usually made of synthetic materials like foam, latex and polyurethane. Traditional mattresses often have thicker layers of cushioning, while modern mattresses are designed to be thinner and more supportive. Traditional mattresses may be more comfortable for sleepers who prefer a softer feel, while modern mattresses are better for people who need a firmer surface. Additionally, traditional mattresses tend to last for several years, while modern mattresses typically last for about 10 years.

How has Mattress Technology Evolved Over Time?

Mattresses have come a long way since their original invention. Early mattresses were made of hay, straw, or wool, and later, cotton and feathers became popular mattress materials. Modern mattresses have been designed with comfort, support, and durability in mind, and have seen advancements in technology that include viscoelastic foam, pocketed coils, cooling gels, and more. Many mattress companies also utilize materials such as organic cotton, wool, and plant-based foam for sustainable, eco-friendly beds. With these new technologies, mattress shoppers now have plenty of options to choose from when looking to purchase a bed.

How have Mattress Designs Changed Since Their Invention?

In the past, mattresses were made from feathers, straw, and other natural materials. Nowadays, mattresses are mostly made from synthetic materials such as foam, latex, and memory foam. Additionally, mattresses are now available in a variety of sizes and shapes, from king-size to twin, and from round to rectangular, allowing people to choose the best fit for their needs. Furthermore, new technologies have allowed mattress manufacturers to add features such as cooling and heating, adjustable firmness, and customized support. These developments have greatly increased the comfort and support mattresses offer, making them a much better sleeping experience than ever before.


The mattress has been around for thousands of years and has undergone many transformations. The modern mattress is an essential piece of furniture that provides comfort and support for a good night’s sleep. The exact origin of the mattress is unclear, but it is likely that it evolved from early sleeping platforms and beds of straw and animal skins. The invention of the mattress has greatly improved the quality of sleep for people around the world and continues to be an important part of the bedroom.


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