A mattress is a large pad for supporting the reclining body, used as a bed or as part of a bed. Mattresses may consist of a quilted or similarly fastened case, usually of heavy cloth, that contains hair, straw, cotton, foam rubber, etc., or a framework of metal springs. Mattresses may also be filled with air or water.
The word mattress derives from the Arabic matrah, which means “something thrown down” or “place where something is thrown down” and hence “mat, cushion”. During the Crusades Europeans adopted the Arabic method of sleeping on cushions on the floor, and the word materas eventually descended into Middle English through the Romance languages.
Mattresses are usually placed on top of a bed base which may be solid, as in the case of a platform bed, or elastic, e.g. with an upholstered wood and wire box spring or a slatted foundation. Popular in Europe, a divan incorporates both mattress and foundation in a single upholstered, footed unit. Divans have at least one innerspring layer as well as cushioning materials. They may be supplied with a secondary mattress and/or a removable “topper.”