Sunday, April 5, 2009

Sleep Through the Centuries

Sleep has been around for…well, for centuries. So have sleep disorders. And remedies for sleep problems.

An exhibit at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., explores 17th-century beliefs and ideas about sleep. “
To Sleep, Perchance to Dream” pulls back the covers on sleep in Renaissance England.

Topics include preparing for sleep. (Use a bed and bedding that are less likely to attract “vermin.”) How to sleep. (Sleep was divided into “first” and “second” sleeps.) Theories about sleep. (It may be the product of digestion.) Sleep aids. (There were numerous recipes to treat

And dreams. The exhibit shows that – like today – people in the 17th century were fascinated by
dreams and nightmares. What they are. Why we have them. What they mean. How to control them.

New York Times review calls it an “entrancing exhibition.” The Times also has a slideshow of images from the exhibit.

The exhibition continues through May 30. Visit the Folger Web site for an online tour.

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