Beds are everywhere. Although millions own at least one, very few fully understand the privilege they provide. Beds, like most things, have changed and improved throughout the course of history. So, what did our common, comfortable beds resemble before modern achievements shaped today’s culture? Truly, to appreciate what is offered today, (because there is always a lesson in history,) we must recognize it’s beginning. To believe that modern comforts have always existed is wrong. Providing an under-appreciated blessing, a bed is a perfect example of a privilege which took centuries to arise.
Although taken for granted today, beds were very rare and expensive assets in the past. In medieval times, the most common resting place was a pile of hay and perhaps a sheet. From the 13th century until recent history, more luxurious beds were made, but unfortunately, were only available to the noble and wealthy. These beds consisted of a wooden bed frame and a possibly lumpy mattress, which was supported by ropes fastened and tightened to the frame. Hardly affordable, these expensive pieces of furniture were topped with the best pillows, sheets, blankets and quilts, while being surrounded by exquisite canopies or curtains. These canopies were decorative as well as useful. Dropping from the ceiling or climbing from the floor, bed bugs living in and around the bed proved a constant threat. These canopies warded them off. Despite their expense and usefulness, even these luxurious beds still had flaws. Mattresses and pillows were made from straw, cotton or feathers stuffed in a bag. Sadly, this caused scratchy or lumpy surfaces. These ancient beds resulted in the popular term “hit the hay.” While these beds were highly prized in the past, they were nothing compared to the improvements to come.