Adjustable Beds & Specialty Bedding BadBacks
Perth • Melbourne • Sydney
FreeCall 1800 615 666 | Store Locator
  • Adjustable Beds Home
  • Store Locator
  • Call 1800 615 666
  • Shop online @ Bad Backs

Evolution of Beds

An Illustrated Timeline

Click on the timeline section of interest below to jump to details.


The bed throughout the ages has appeared in many forms; from a pile of twigs to an elaborate structure symbolizing wealth and power. For centuries, and in many cultures, the bed was considered the most important piece of furniture in the home. In fact the bed was often used as a place to eat meals, entertain and sleep.

Over time the differences in quality and comfort have distinctly separated the rich from the poor and continue to do so today. Many have lavished themselves with designer bedsteads, the latest in mattress materials and luxury silk or cotton sheets, while many more spend the night on a simple sleeping mat on the floor.

Sleep is one of our primary needs and so for refuge against bad weather, wild beasts and unwanted guests, the Prehistoric man sought shelter where he could rest undisturbed. Of course the kind of shelter depended on the climate and surroundings. Such shelters included the trunk of a hollow tree, thick foliage, tree-tops, caves and holes dug out of the ground.

10,000 BC

It was not until the Neolithic period people began sleeping on primitive beds made of forest foliage and animal skins. These sleeping areas could hardly be classed as a bed today, but such resting places laid the basic foundations for the concept of the bed.

3400 BC

The Egyptians discovered the benefits of raising a sleeping platform above the ground to protect the sleeper from draughts and unwanted pests. These early beds were little more than wooden frames with plaited rope or leather strapping stretched across them. However, King Tutankahmen and other Pharaohs slept on beds made of ebony and gold.

1100 BC - 146 BC

The ancient Greeks developed a multi-purpose bed called a kline. Used for dining, leisure and sleep the kline was generally made of wood including solid maple or veneered with a coating of more expensive woods. At the head part there was a board to support the pillow and prevent it from falling off.

27BC - 472 AD (approx.)

During the Roman Empire the first luxury beds came about, often decorated with gold, silver or bronze and featured mattresses stuffed with reeds, hay, wool or feathers. And the Greeks, Persians, and Romans discovered the benefits of sleeping on water by filling goat skins.

400 - 1400 AD

During the Medieval era the bed had evolved into a separate piece of furniture, complete with frame, mattress and linens. And the furniture was so constructed that it could readily be taken apart for transport The Normans brought with them from medieval France a more elaborate bed style, where iron railings were used to hang the curtains, and both coverings and curtains were elaborate and highly prized. These gradually developed into the huge four poster beds, heavily carved and richly hung. The Great Bed of Ware, now in a museum, was eleven feet square. However, despite the expensive and decorative hangings and covers, early beds were still based on a mattress of straw.

14th - 17th Century

During the Renaissance period beds began to regain the grandeur last seen in ancient Rome. European artisans designed furniture using inlays and veneers, rather than carving from solid pieces of timber. Beds reached new heights of opulence and dimensions, and frequently included a canopy and posts in the design. What made these canopy beds so popular was the ability to includes drapes, which provided some level of privacy.

A luxurious bed was considered a thing of beauty, and King Louis XIV loved beds. He often held court while lying in one of the many beds he owned.

1800-1899 Industrial Revolution

During this period, radical changes in society gave way to beginnings of mass production. Ornate and hand carved bed designs were replaced by simple flowing lines, and brass and cast-iron beds also grew in popularity.


The first coil spring construction for bedding was patented.


This period saw the greatest advancements in beds so far, beginning with the introduction of the fold away Murphy bed in 1918, followed by the innerspring mattress and upholstered foundation. In the 40's Futons were introduced to North America. Other progression included: improvements to latex rubber mattresses and pillows, modern waterbeds, adjustable beds and airbeds. In the 1990's spacious sleeping was once again on the rise with the Queen size bed now more popular than the double. In 1969, John and Yoko Lennon staged a 'bed-in' to promote peace during the Vietnam war. They invited the media into their room and stayed in bed for a week, answering questions and promoting peace.


Choice and comfort are the key words in bedding today. In addition to an almost unlimited range of innerspring mattress designs, new types of memory foam and latex mattresses, as well as airbeds, bunk beds, water-beds and high tech motorized, adjustable beds... have also entered the market.

Back to top ^