Just what are we sleeping on? 1000’s of years of evolution that’s what.
The earliest paleontological example of a “mattress” to use the term loosely was around 77,000 years ago. This would have consisted of materials such as grass and reeds. They would have been used directly on to the floor.
In fact, mattresses weren’t generally raised off the floor until sometime around 2000BCE. Ancient Egyptians made raised surfaces similar to beds out of wood to protect themselves from pests on the floor such as snakes. The mattresses for the well-off Egyptians were typically filled with wool. Not much changed with mattresses during the Ancient Roman times which followed. Poorer people had mattresses filled with hay or reeds while the more affluent had wool or feathers.
Around the 12th century beds themselves became a definitive way of telling someone’s wealth. The frames were often carved, and mattresses even embroidered. Curtains also became commonplace around beds. Ornate beds peaked in the 17th and 18th century.
Beds became a lot simpler in the 19th century and look a lot like what we know them as today. Metal frames especially became more commonplace. With the introduction of coil springs in 1871, the mattress market was transformed. Pocket springs were then patented by James Marshall in 1901.
At the beginning of the 20th-century mattresses began being mass-produced making them more accessible for everybody. The great thing about them becoming mass-produced was that companies needed an edge to make sales. Thus lots of research went into mattresses and we are now lucky to have such a large range of choice including pocket springs, latex and memory foam fillings.