The headboard is a piece of furniture that attaches to the head of a bed. Historically, they served to isolate sleepers from drafts and cold in less insulated buildings, and thus were made of wood, which is less conductive than stone or brick. Constructed to create space from the wall (via thicker end pillars) they allowed falling colder air to sink to the floor rather than onto the bed.
Today in better heated and insulated residences headboards serve chiefly aesthetic and utilitarian functions such as to keep pillows from falling off the bed. They may include storage space for books and personal items, and conveniences such as lights and telephone. Those of hospital beds may incorporate critical care functions.
A headboard may often be complemented by a footboard for aesthetic balance.