16 Fascinating Facts About Mattresses

Stuffed toy on a mattress.

Sleep is precious, and there’s nothing better than cozying up on a comfortable mattress after a long day at work. Mattresses have been recreated over the years to provide more comfort and support, allowing your body to heal and recuperate during the night. A good mattress is the foundation for getting adequate sleep. But there’s so much more to a mattress than getting some shut-eye.

We’ve got 16 fun facts about mattresses that will blow your mind. Read on to learn more about mattresses – a whole world of knowledge awaits.

Amazing Facts About Mattresses

Comfortable mattress in a stylish room

The word mattress is derived from “Matrah”, an Arabic word, which itself is taken from the word ‘taraha,’ which means ‘throw.’ The Crusaders brought the mattress to the West after returning from the East. Before the arrival of the mattress, people in the west mostly slept on coarse fabrics stuffed with straw.

At the time, mattresses were viewed as a luxury by the bewildered westerners. Ever since then, the mattress has undergone countless upgrades, but its Arabic origins still live on.

2. King Louis KIV Owned 413 Beds

King Louis XIV was so fond of his bed that he conducted the affairs of his state from his bedroom. He went so far as to receive his visitors from the comforts of the bed. A rail separated the bed from the guests, and it was considered an honor to watch the king wake up or doze off.

3. Mattresses with Ropes

Before the advent of box springs, mattresses were held up with the help of ropes. This is also where the phrase ‘sleep tight” comes from. The phrase came before the invention of box springs, and mattresses were supported with the help of wooden frames and ropes. This phrase was coined because people often needed to tighten the rope. Otherwise, the mattress would sag.

It was common practice to raise the mattresses from the ground to reduce their encounter with pests and rodents that would crawl into their sleeping spaces.

4. Firm Mattresses Aren’t All They’re Cracked Up To Be

It is commonly believed that firmer mattresses are better for a person’s back. This is not necessarily true. Every person has their own definition of what constitutes comfort. What you need is a mattress that provides support for your back. It may be a soft or plush mattress – we recommend trying the mattress before buying it.

5. Washington State has Outlawed Buying Mattresses on Sunday

A spring mattress

An old law in Washington makes it illegal for people to buy or sell a mattress on Sundays. Also joining the list of banned contraband that can’t be bought or sold on Sunday are televisions and meat. It’s unclear why the law was drafted in the first place, but it has been commonly cited by many websites.

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6. Mattress Tags are a Legal Necessity

Mattress tags have the express purpose of informing consumers about what’s inside the mattress (and what it is made of. It also assures them that the mattress is new and has never been sold previously. These tags can also provide a lot of information to customers, such as the batch numbers, manufacturing date, and materials.

This was important in the 1800s because many mattresses were filled with old fabric that could carry diseases.

7. The Ancient Greeks Used Folding Beds

Folding beds are viewed as a recent innovation but they have been used by the Ancient Greeks. Historians reveal that the Ancient Greeks were fond of multipurpose furniture, and used folding beds for sleeping at night. This piece of furniture could be folded into a deck chair so that it could be used for lounging.

Of course, they didn’t have the soft and cushy mattresses of today, and instead, the mattresses were filled with old vegetable skins such as pea pods.

8. The Average Mattress Will Double its Weight in 10 Years

Where do you think all the dead skin and mites go? Not into thin air. Studies show that the average mattress will be filled with dust mite debris and double in weight over the course of 10 years. If this statistic bothers you, consider wrapping your mattress with an impervious cover so that nothing goes inside – not even dust mites and skin cells.

Nowadays, you can find mattress covers just about anywhere. Just make sure to find breathable ones so that moisture doesn’t get trapped inside the mattress. That could lead to the growth of mold and fungus.

9. Your Mattress is Covered in Dead Skin Cells

Speaking of dead skin cells, your mattress is completely covered with the stuff. The human body will shed millions of dead skin cells. They will accumulate in your mattress, blankets, sheet, and pillows. Even worse is the fact that the dead skin cells will become fodder for smaller organisms. This can cause allergies and asthma.

A good idea is to wash your mattress and sheets every week. Try to have your pillows replaced every six months, especially if you’re unable to wash them.

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10. Your Mattress Looks Like Super Gross Under a Microscope

Monitoring for bugs on a mattress.

You will be shocked to see the kind of wildlife that lurks around your mattress. Tiny dust mites father around your mattress to feast on the dead skin cells. The millions of skin cells we shed every night provide sustenance to tens of thousands of critters. While they won’t pose much of a threat to you, they can trigger allergies and asthma.

If this is a problem for you, consider using a pillowcase and allergen mattress protector.

11. A Pool of Your Own Sweat

It is common for people to sweat during their sleep. However, the perspiration won’t just disappear into thin air. Over time, this sweat will create stains and a musty odor. Getting the smell out of the mattress will take quite a bit of work. To keep your mattress fresh and clean, remove the sheets and blankets to allow it to dry.

Consider buying a waterproof mattress protector to keep the humidity out of your mattress.

12. A Humid Mattress Attracts Mold and Mildew

It is easy for mattresses to become damp, especially if they haven’t been washed. Damp mattresses allow mold and mildew to flourish. This creates the ideal conditions for triggering asthma and allergies. A humid mattress can be disastrous for individuals predisposed to allergies from coughing and sneezing to troubled breathing and wheezing.

Make sure to keep your mattress dry with the help of a waterproof mattress protector. And if the mattress gets too hot, allow it to ventilate outside the bedroom.  

13. The Princess and the Pea

Hans Christen Anderson is a prolific writer who wrote “The Princess and the Pea” in 1835. A central theme of the plot involves using layers of mattresses to determine if the main character is a real princess. The narrative asserts that princesses are so sensitive they can feel the presence of a pea under twenty mattresses. No explanation has been provided for this claim, but it provides a good synopsis.

14. The Rise of Foam Rubber Mattresses

Latex foam rubber, used in mattresses, was invented by EA Murphy. He attempted to make a lightweight foam with liquid latex, but the bubbles never stayed in the rubber. His wife suggested the use of a cake mixer and steamer – and this trick worked.

The latex foam became an instant hit and was widely used in padding, seats, and of course, mattresses. This material continues to be the default choice for manufacturing mattresses.

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15. There are Fire Retardants in Your Mattresses

Many years ago, most fires were caused by bedroom hazards. Since 2007, every manufacturer is required to comply with flammability rules for their mattresses. This means that mattresses must be able to withstand a 2-foot open flame for at least 70 seconds. This should give anyone enough time to recognize a fire and put it out before it spreads.

Unfortunately, some of the chemical fire retardants used in mattresses are linked to cancer, developmental brain disorders, and infertility.  

16. Mattresses Have Existed 77,000 Years Ago

The earliest evidence for mattresses comes from over 77,000 years ago. Apparently, cavemen in South Africa raised their mattresses off the floor to avoid bugs and other creepy crawlies. The mattresses often got greasy after a while because they used the space for eating dinner.  So once the mattresses got too greasy, the cavemen would set fire to them.

The Mattress Industry

Adam takes the viewer through the mattress industry and informs them about common practices that could be argued, are not in the best interests of the consumer. The video also discusses unique facts related to mattresses that are interesting.


The humble mattress is a great invention with an interesting history. It was adopted from the Arabs and improved upon after the advent of the industrial revolution. Regardless of how technologically advanced mattresses have become today, the underlying principles haven’t really changed much: providing a good night’s sleep and supporting every joint and bone in the body.

We’ve come a long way from straw stuffing and vegetable skins!

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