I couldn't sleep. I tossed. I turned. I turned again. No relief. I got a glass of water, read a few things, but still couldn't get that old "sleepy" feeling.
So when it's late at night and sleep runs away faster than you can chase it, your thoughts wander down all sorts of strange alleyways. I have a pretty nice bed. It is one of those sleep number air beds before they got the digital numbering. Same principal without the digital pressure readout. Yes, it is adequately comfortable, but that doesn't seem to matter tonight. However, with sleep alluding me, I wondered how people in historic times were able to sleep well on their beds. Weren't early beds harder, lumpier, and generally a lot less comfortable than mine?
Enter the Internet and Dogpile. It seems the Greeks and the Egyptians liked couch beds that served the dual purpose of reclining for eating and sleeping.
Other articles for primitive cultures discuss how benches used for seating were also used for beds. It seems the idea was to get off the ground, probably because lots of creepy, crawly things frequented down there and besides a hard bed, one thing that would definitely ruin your sleep would be something crawling up your leg in the middle of the night, especially when there wasn't a light switch or flashlight handy to see what it was.
The various articles don't say anything about the cushion or the comfort. The above example has a headboard but no footboard. Less expensive beds were made of a woven mat placed on wooden framework standing on legs, often carved in the shape of some animal. One end had a footboard and the other a headrest with a curved neckpiece set on top of a short pillar. Now that does not sound comfortable at all.
I eventually came across a site on About.com on The History of Beds. It noted:
…for many centuries the bed was considered the most important piece of furniture in the house and a type of status symbol. Beds were used in ancient Egypt as more than a place for sleeping, beds were used as a place to eat meals and entertain socially.
Talk about general purpose furniture. And we thought we had the market cornered on multipurpose designs. A little later the article noted:
The first attempt at a soft basis consisted of ropes stretched across a wooden framework.
They didn't give a date but immediately afterwards they are talking about the first mattresses in 1600. So, what did people do for thousands of years. Those Greek couch/beds appear to have some sort of cushion.
Another article on ancient Egypt said "the poor had to make do with a mattress filled with straw or wool, a mat or even the plain floor" which means mattresses or at least cushions for sleeping are older than 1600. However, a mat or the plain floor had to be rough to sleep on–talk about bed soreness leading to bedsores…
Well after an hour or so investigating the sleeping arrangements of our ancestors I decided I had nothing to gripe about and should consider myself beyond lucky and just go back to bed, sleepy eyes or not. After all, I was taught never to look a gift horse in the mouth and my bed was certainly better than anything available in ancient times, even to a Pharaoh. So, good night and as the old rhyme says, don't let the bedbugs bite.