About the project

‘Sleeping Well in the Early Modern World’ is a four-year project funded by the Wellcome Trust exploring an environmental approach to the history of sleep care.

This project will be the first to define and analyse sleep habits as historically-situated environmental practices. It investigates how and why communities in Britain, Ireland and England’s emerging American colonies c.1500-1750 engaged with their physical surroundings in an effort to sleep well and safeguard their health.

The project will uncover an environmentally informed culture of ‘sleep care’, its conceptual underpinnings, and its manifestation in a range of everyday ‘sleep care’ practices from the preparation of soporific tonics to the composition of bedding materials. As such, it will demonstrate that ‘sleeping well’ involved much more than simply avoiding sleep disorders or coping with sleep loss.