Technology has shaped everything we do - how we eat, how we sleep, how we work and how we play. Technological advances offer us solutions and variety and revolutionise our lives. The advances happen so rapidly that often we forget how far we have come. This blog post looks back over the last 150 years and examines how technology has shaped our sleep.
The need for a comfortable night's sleep has led to the creation of many different mattresses. In 1873, Neil Arnott created the first waterbed for Dr James Paget, a physician who was trying to prevent and treat bed sores at the hospital where he worked. Twenty two years later, in 1895, the British store Harrod's started selling waterbeds to the public. Unfortunately, the water was often not well-contained and so the waterbed did not gain mass popularity until the 1960s when the invention of vinyl led to waterbeds becoming practical and a symbol of flower power.
Cotton has also been a popular choice as a mattress filling and cover. The father of mattresses was a cotton gin farmer named Daniel Haynes from Sealy, Texas. In 1881 he began stuffing bags with cotton to make mattresses for friends and family. He patented his design in 1889 but sold this in 1906 to Earl Edwards. He created the company Sealy and had 20 mattress plants up and running by 1920.
Later in 1929, the first latex rubber mattress called the "Dunlopillow" was developed by tyre manufacturer Dunlop.
In the 1930s, the 'modern mattress' was born as pocket springs were introduced as well as upholstered bases.
This was followed in the 1940s by the introduction of Futons to the western world. The next material developed was foam rubber in the 1950s which saw -foam rubber mattresses and pillows appear on the market. It wasn't until the 1980s that airbeds were introduced but they did not gain popularity like their inner-spring mattress competition.
In the 1990s bigger was better and beds were no exception. The queen mattress started outselling single and double bed mattresses to become the most popular size worldwide. In 1992, Tempur-pedic used the material memory foam (created by NASA scientists). A few years later, the Simmons Bedding Company invents the no-flip mattress which goes on to be adopted by most other mattress manufacturers. Consumers now have access to an unlimited range of innerspring mattress designs that make use of various materials to provide the right amount of postural support and comfort. Mattresses are designed to provide a life time of good sleep and are the main feature of bedrooms across the globe.