What is a Medieval Mattress? – Sleep of the Peasants, Bed of the Rich

medieval bed2

What is a Medieval Mattress?

Mattresses have been around for centuries, evolving with the needs of people. In this article, we explore the history of mattresses and explain how they’ve changed over time.

What is a mattress?

A mattress is for supporting the resting body during sleep, used as a bed. Mattresses are usually placed on top of a bed base consisting of a sprung base layer and a layer of wood.

What is a Medieval Mattress?

Medieval mattresses were the most common type of beds during the Middle Ages. The bed was only changed once a year and it might be quite smoky, with heavy rains driving bugs or mice indoors and wind whistling through windows.

What were medieval beds made of?

A medieval mattress was originally made from straw, cheesecloth or other soft materials. It was often filled with hay, feathers or down to help keep people warm and comfortable.

medieval bed

Did they have mattresses in medieval times?

In the Middle Ages and Renaissance, mattresses were used by the wealthy as well as the peasantry. For the peasantry, it provided them with a good night’s sleep – something that was hard to come by in their cramped homes. For the wealthy, mattresses were used to protect expensive furniture from dirt and dust.

What is the difference between a medieval mattress and a modern mattress?

A medieval mattress was made from a range of supportive materials to form a hybrid. The bottom layer was usually hay or straw, which provided support and ventilation. The top layer consisted of soft materials like down, wool, or cotton. This combination of materials made for a more comfortable sleep than what is possible with a modern mattress. In addition, the medieval mattress was more durable than its modern counterpart.

What are the benefits of sleeping on a medieval mattress?

The medieval mattresses were covered in velvets and silks. Bed frames emerged in a few distinct and different ways during the medieval period. The four-poster bed was designed to be flashy and extravagant. Sleeping on a medieval mattress has several benefits, including:

  • natural materials used
  • warm
  • improved sleep quality
  • better blood circulation

Are there any drawbacks to sleeping on a medieval mattress?

There are many drawbacks to sleeping on a medieval mattress. Some of the drawbacks include:

  • high manufacturing cost
  • impractical
  • lack of comfort

A medieval mattress was often very expensive, making it impractical for most peasants. In addition, the mattress was often uncomfortable and lacked the support that we have today.

What is the history of the mattress?

The Oldest Mattress

The oldest known mattress was discovered in South Africa and dates back to 77,000 years ago. The mattress consisted of layers of plant material gathered into mats, which were periodically burned to eliminate pests.

The history of the mattress dates back to ancient history. The first mattresses were made of straw or feathers. In medieval times, mattresses were filled with wool or horsehair. Modern mattresses are usually filled with synthetic materials such as polyester or memory foam.

During the Medieval period mattresses were large due to heating challenges. Over time mattresses became smaller.

The first Medieval Mattress was made in Ancient Egypt. The platform of the mattress is made up of woven mats, and animal shaped legs were used to accent beds from this era. However, the bed was a luxury item for many people living in medieval times because they could afford it only on rare occasions such as Christmas or when they became ill.

Sleeping in The Middle Ages

The Middle Ages had a very different sleep cycle than the present day. They believed that there were three cycles of sleep- wake, deep sleep, and dreamless sleep. The amount of time a person spent in each stage was determined by their social status. The rich slept for longer periods of time in deep sleep and woke up early to enjoy the day. The poor, on the other hand, only slept for short periods of time and spent most of their time in a waking state. This was because they had to work all day to survive.

The Middle Ages were a time where the divide between the quality of life for the rich and poor was becoming more and more evident. Lower class families would sleep where they worked, often on makeshift bed frames and mattresses. The wealthy would have much better sleeping conditions, with comfortable beds in their own homes.

Beds in the middle ages

The social status of a person was also determined by what they wore, where they slept, and what they slept on. The richer people would have fine linens and down pillows while the poorer people would have to make do with straw mattresses. The idea that sleep is related to social status is still present in the modern day. We often think of the rich as those who get the most sleep.

What were beds called in medieval times?

Beds used in medieval times were made of straw or hay stretched over by linen or some other material sheet are sometimes called pallets. A mattress used on its own, without a featherbed, or solid bedstead were called a palliasse.

Medieval sleeping pallet

A medieval sleeping pallet or mattress was typically a simple straw-filled sack that was placed on the floor. The wealthy would have a bed with a frame and a mattress, but most people would sleep on the floor. In fact, the wealthy would often remain in bed to receive visitors, eat meals, and carry on business.

What did medieval beds look like?

Beds in the middle ages were typically sloped and had a head support. They could be quite small, with a single person design style. The floor and bed should always have some space between them to prevent cold from seeping up from the floor.

Medieval bed sheets

The mattress was thickly stuffed with down and feathers and bed sheets were made of fine linen.

What did they use for bedding in medieval times?

Medieval mattresses were used as bedding in medieval times. Later mattresses were made of cotton-stuffed mattresses that replaced down or hay. The bedroom as a private space for sleep became widespread, no longer did royalty receive visitors in their bedroom.

Medieval Peasant Life

If you were a medieval peasant, your life would be filled with hard work and little rest – though we all know how resting is important. You would have to wake up early in the morning to start your day of work, which could include anything from farming to caring for livestock. And if you were lucky enough to have a bed, it would likely be a small, elevated platform with straw thatch on top.

Privacy wasn’t a concept in medieval times, so everyone would have slept in the same room (people also used to sleep outside at that time, even though it would have been much dangerous to sleep outside that these days). This could be anything from leaves to grass mounds to depressions in the ground. In prehistoric times, all nomadic people slept in the same place each night.

What did medieval peasants sleep on?

Medieval peasants recommended seven to nine hours of sleep per day. They slept on a mattress filled with straw, feathers, down, or wool. Peasants should lie down on one side then the other to sleep well. People who were ill or unable to sleep should try to nap during the day.

Medieval beds for peasants

Medieval peasants did not have beds. Peasants slept on the ground, on a pile of straw, or on a mattress filled with leaves. The bed would become elaborate and expensive during the Middle Ages. The bed would become simple and cheap during the Middle Ages.

Did People Used to Sleep Sitting Up?

People used to sleep sitting up in the middle ages because they didn’t trust each other and felt the need to be always prepared for an attack and wanted their weapons ready all the times.

Why are medieval beds so small?

Medieval beds were so small because people slept half-sitting in the middle ages.

Are Medieval Mattresses Suitable for Side Sleepers?

Are Medieval mattresses suitable for side sleepers? Many may argue that the answer is no. However, a modern alternative, japanese futons for side sleepers, may provide a more comfortable and supportive option. With their thin yet firm construction, Japanese futons mold to the body’s contours, ensuring proper spinal alignment and alleviating pressure points for a restful night’s sleep.

Sleeping in the Renaissance

During the Renaissance, people became more interested in improving sleeping conditions for the peasants. Bed frames emerged during this time period in different ways, including the four-poster bed. Kings would often hold their hearings within their bedrooms, often having special bedrooms and beds for these purposes.

About The Renaissance

The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spread across Europe. It began in the 14th century and ended in the 17th century. The Renaissance is best known for its art, literature, and philosophy. However, it also had a significant impact on furniture design. Furniture from the Renaissance period almost always included a canopy and posts in the design.

The Great Bed of Ware

This bed is called the Great Bed of Ware (Victoria and Albert Museum in London). The bed was so famous during its day that Shakespeare included a reference to it in his play “Twelfth Night.”


So we have learnt that a medieval mattress was a bedding used in the Middle Ages and Renaissance. It was usually made of straw, wool, or feathers and was filled with down or other soft materials. The bedding was often used by peasants and was not as comfortable as the beds of the rich.

You can use this information to create a comfortable and stylish medieval bed for your family and try out a weighted blanket to help you sleep better at night.


By lezt

Lez Taylor, Founder and CEO of Corala Blanket. She tried every sleep system and trick to conquer her insomnia for good.