Strange Bed Spaces People Have Had in History

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Considering humans end up spending about a third of our lives asleep, it's not surprising that throughout history we have come up with some weird and creative ways to get comfortable at night. Here are a few examples of strange ways humans laid down for some "z's" before your friendly neighborhood mattress stores were even a thought in our ancestors' heads..

In 2011, scientists in South Africa announced they had discovered the world's oldest known mattress. That particular archaeological spot, called Sibudu Cave, had been a popular family sleeping area for about 39,000 years, and had about that many years' worth of plant matter bedding. The plant matter covered a 'mattress' layer of rushes and reeds dating to about 77,000 years ago. It's not exactly a Tempur Pedic mattress, but it's pretty typical of early mattress construction.

Around 3,600 years ago, Persians would create mattresses by filling goatskins with water. Leave it to the Persians to make waterbeds sound hardcore.

Roman beds from the first centuries of the common era were small, and sometimes had three raised sides. Ancient Romans were very comfortable eating, reading, and socializing while lying down, so these Roman beds were able to be arranged and used similar to the daybeds we know today.

Louis XIV of France reigned as the flamboyant and pampered "Sun King" from 1643 until his death in 1715. Louis also loved beds. He reportedly owned around 413 beds and often held court from his main bed in the royal bedroom. Royals were also subject to elaborate waking and sleeping rituals, sometimes involving one hundred spectators crowding into their large bed chambers, so maybe it's no wonder Louis preferred to stay in bed.

Cotton mattresses weren't popularized until around the 18th century. The standards "commoners" had for their sleeping spaces suddenly raised a little. Keep in mind that insects and vermin were practically expected in the poor man's bedding before this, unlike the abysmal reviews hotels and mattress stores can expect to endure today if a single bed bug popped up on someone's pillow.

In 1969, John Lennon and Yoko Ono performed their famous week-long 'bed-in' protests, one in Montreal and one in Amsterdam where the couple was honeymooning. The highly publicized demonstrations were inspired by Vietnam War sit-in protests, and recorded in a documentary called "Bed Peace".

Once you realize that comfort and privacy weren't always givens for sleep, it makes you feel a little thankful for your cozy mattress and quiet bedroom.

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  • KC Alexander
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