Meet the project team behind ‘Sleeping Well in the Early Modern World’

Sasha Handley

Sasha profile photoSasha Handley is Professor of Early Modern History at The University of Manchester and is the Principal Investigator on the ‘Sleeping well in the Early Modern World’ project.

Sasha’s research explores ideas, practices, environments, and objects relating to sleep in the early modern period, and she is an expert on material culture methodologies, women’s history, and histories of everyday life in the period.


Sasha’s sleep-related publications include ‘Sleep in Early Modern England’ (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2016), ISBN: 9780300220391.

Relevant journal articles include:

  • Accounting for sleep loss in early modern England’: Interface Focus, 10:3, 2020, 
  • ‘Deformities of nature: sleepwalking and non-conscious states of mind in late eighteenth-century Britain’, Journal of the History of Ideas, 78:3, 2017, 401-425.
  • ‘Sociable Sleeping in Early Modern England, 1660-1760’, History: The Journal of the Historical Association, 98:329, 2013: 79-104.
  • ‘From the Sacral to the Moral: Sleeping Practices, Household Worship and Confessional Cultures in Late Seventeenth-Century England’, Cultural and Social History, 9:1, 2012: 27-46.
  • ‘Sleepwalking, Subjectivity and the Nervous Body in Eighteenth-Century England’, Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies 35:3, 2012: 305-323.

Leah Astbury

Leah profile photoLeah Astbury is a historian of early modern gender, family and medicine and a Postdoctoral Research Associate on the ‘Sleeping well in the Early Modern World’ project. Previously she was a Wellcome Trust Postdoctoral Fellow at the Department of History & Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge (2018-2021) where she was researching the relationship between marriage and health in early modern England.

In 2017-18 she was the Molina Fellow in the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences at the Huntington Library, San Marino. Prior to this she held fellowships from the Society of Renaissance Studies and The Oxford Research Centre for the Humanities (TORCH). She completed her PhD in 2016 at the University of Cambridge, titled ‘Breeding Women and Lusty Infants in Seventeenth-Century England’, which examined the experience of pregnancy, childbirth and after-birth care.


Leah’s publications include:

Holly Fletcher

Holly profile photoHolly Fletcher is a Postdoctoral Research Associate on the project ‘Sleeping well in the Early Modern World’. Her research focuses on the history of the body and its interactions with the material world in the early modern period. Prior to joining the project, Holly taught early modern history at the University of Sussex. She completed her PhD at the University of Cambridge in 2020 with a thesis examining the cultural significance of body size and shape in early modern Germany.


Holly’s publications include:

  • ‘Belly-Worshippers and Greed-Paunches: Fatness and the Belly in the Lutheran Reformation’, German History, 39:2, 2021: 173-200.
  • ‘Age, Gender and the Body in the Bronze and Pearwood Statuettes of 1520s Germany’, Gender & History, 32:2, 2020: 341-372.

Lucy Elliott

Lucy profile picture

Lucy Elliott is a PhD student at The University of Manchester. She received a BA in History and MA History of Medicine from Newcastle University. Lucy’s research interests centre on early modern cultural and medical histories, with particular focus upon Britain and England’s American colonies. Her PhD thesis will explore how the early modern environment and climatological change shaped the practice and perception of sleep.

Anna Fielding

Anna is a postgraduate researcher at Manchester Metropolitan University working on early modern commensality (eating together) and National Trust properties in the north west of England. She is project officer for ‘Sleeping Well in the Early Modern World’, based at Ordsall Hall in Salford. Anna translates the research of the sleep team into workshops and events for Ordsall’s visitors and school groups. She recreates early modern sleep remedies, using produce from the garden, and links domestic sleep care to the surrounding environment. Her work ensures that the project’s research on early modern sleep is accessible to all. The public can try out remedies, learn more about early modern approaches, and consider the links between historical sleep advice and the importance of good sleep today. Anna has worked with the National Trust for several years on collaborative academic projects, including during her PhD. Her research includes work on how to effectively combine historical research with heritage and public engagement.

Anna's Publications

Anna’s publications include: 

Eleanor Shaw

Eleanor Shaw is the project officer for ‘Sleeping well in the early modern world’ and looks after the project administration and organisation. She has previously worked in health and development roles, administering professional development projects with midwives and GPs around the globe. She is also a final year part time PhD student, finishing her PhD on the development of medical journals in the 20th century and how the kinds of communities that medical journals become impacts the research they fund, support, publish and publicise.

Eleanor's publications

Eleanor’s publications include: