Double Beds vs Twin Beds

Here is an idea most people have not thought about and how it affected their ancestors. Did a husband-wife relative sleep in a double-size bed or two twin / single-sized beds? For years, decades ago, most slept in a double bed. The vintage four-poster bed I inherited from my 3rd great grandmother, made by her father for her wedding in 1849, was a double size.

Investigating, it can be found that twin beds were initially adopted in the late 19th century as a health precaution. It appears doctors warned of the dire consequences of bed-sharing. Doctors stated each sleeper “should have a single bed in a large, clean, light room, so as to pass all the hours of sleep in a pure fresh air, and that those who fail in this, will in the end fail in health and strength of limb and brain, and will die early”. This idea applied not to just married couples, but siblings, a grandparent and grandchild sleeping in the same bed.

So twin beds / single-sized beds began to appear by 1900 and especially in the 1920s twin beds were seen as a fashionable, modern choice. By the 1930s, twin beds were commonplace in middle-class households.

With television shows of the 1950s married couples were always portrayed in the bedroom to twin separate twin beds. It would not be until the mid-1960s that movies and television shows had a couple in a double bed.

This practice was also true for the American public in their own bedroom. Even if a couple could not afford a new double bed, they pushed the two twin beds together.

Even in the 21st century, nearly one in four couples sleep in separate bedrooms or beds, according to a 2015 survey by the National Sleep Foundation. Whether the reason as it was in the late 1800s for domestic hygiene or the idea of having their own space.

See if you can figure out what type of bed set-up your parents had, grandparents and great grandparent. Any bedroom photos, heirloom bedroom furniture or asking aunts and grandparents might provide answers.

Photos: Inherited 1849 double bed; Double beds of the 1600s and 1880s and twin beds in 1900 and 1924.

Related Blogs:

Ancestor’s Sayings

Sleeping Ancestors

Strange Practices of our Ancestors

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