Travelling around the world is by far the best way to take in all the different sights, activities and cultures our wonderful planet has to offer. The excitement of days filled with new discoveries can get tiring though, just be certain you know what you’ll be laying your head on before you go to sleep.
Many cultures have different traditions when it comes to beds and sleeping, and it’s interesting to see how each culture influences another. For example, the four-poster bed style that was the height of popularity during Tudor England is said to have actually originated from 15th Century Austria.
Whilst the Spanish are well known for enjoying outdoor afternoon siestas, sleeping outdoors in many other countries would usually mean camping out with a tent a sleeping bag. Those in the hotter regions, such as the Australian Outback, are lucky enough to not have to worry about covers and get to enjoy nights under the stars (weather permitting of course). In a stark contrast, Antarctica is devoid of any hotels or B&B’s, and with 24 hour sunshine in the southern areas during the summer, those who travel there are forced to seek refuge inside their boat’s cabin.
With America being so vast, it’s hardly a surprise that the styles of bedding across both the northern and southern continents vary widely. North America is host to a wide range of bed styles much like Europe, with the difference being that you’re likely to find bed sizes, much like clothing and shoe sizes, to be a little bit bigger.
Some of those living in Southern and Central American countries as well as Caribbean islands tend to prefer sleeping in a hammock, due to their hotter climates. Fabric spread between two fixed object, these have been adopted by many as a popular way to relax out in the garden.
With the high amount of mosquitoes in some parts of Africa, many of the beds or mats that people sleep on there also need protective nets; however these are sadly in shorter supply within Africa’s poorer regions.
Whilst here in the UK we tend to prefer a bed that’s soft yet supportive, some people prefer their beds a little sharper. Sleeping on a bed of nails is a practise which stems from ancient Indian mysticism, the idea being that laying on the nails will aid meditation through the endorphins released when the spikes touch the skin. Slightly less spiky, firmer beds, sometimes made out of clay and bamboo or a board with light padding attached to it are popular in China.
The Japanese tend to prefer their beds at a lower level than the beds we see in the UK, in fact the futon originates from Japan, where the term generally refers to a lightweight mattress and bedding that can be rolled up and stored away easily to make space in the room for other activities. Western culture made its own significant changes to the futon style, usually combining it with some kind of frame such as a chair or a sofa in order to give the bed multiple purposes and to provide the elevation from the floor that is much preferred.
The Japanese are also renowned for inventing the capsule bed, and opening the world’s first capsule hotel. The minimalist pods are only slightly bigger than coffins yet they prove popular with those who are looking to rest their head without the niceties and extras that come attached to a standard hotel room.