The Emerging Use of Mattresses in History: Cultural Differences in Sleeping Patterns

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The emerging use of mattresses in history: Cultural differences in sleeping patterns The way that we sleep feels so 'natural', it may come as a surprise that sleeping in separate beds on an elevated mattress is quite particular to specific cultures and regions. The first hunter-gatherers obviously did not have stationary places to rest upon and even the concept of an individual bedroom is fairly recent in the West. However, given the ubiquity of Western culture, many non-Western customs regarding sleeping habits have changed and grown more European. This can be seen in Japan, in which, until recently, most people slept on tatami. Tatami mats are a type of woven rush grass floor, "woven around a rice straw core" (Quick history: Tatami mats, 2012, Apartment Therapy). "Increasingly rare in modern Japanese interiors...Some Japanese people still sleep on tatami mats with a thin mattress on top (called a futon these can roll or fold up when not in use, and bear little resemblance to dorm room futons). While these might be too thin if placed on a wood floor, the tatami mat's natural give apparently makes it very comfortable" (Quick history: Tatami mats, 2012, Apartment Therapy) While most Japanese today sleep on Western-style beds given that solid flooring is much more common, in small apartments the ability to 'dispose' of one's bed every day for more space can offer a great advantage. Japanese homes are still much smaller than American homes, thanks to Japan's much

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