– Contributed by Emily Gainer.
May’s book of the month is a fascinating turn-of-the-century book about an often perplexing topic: SLEEP. In The Witchery of Sleep (1903), Willard Moyer claimed “the theme of Sleep is an exhaustive one” (from introduction). The book addresses a number of topics relating to sleep, including the phenomena of sleep, sleeplessness, dreams, and the importance of the bed.
One of the most interesting features of the book is the illustrations. The book contains more than 30 illustrations of what Moyer refers to as “Sleeping Places”. The drawings, which appear to be beds of the wealthy, encompass various countries and time periods.
There are less than 60 copies of this 1903 edition in WorldCat. The CHP’s copy is especially unique, because it was signed and inscribed by the author in 1908. The book was donated to the CHP by Ludy T. Benjamin, Jr.
As modern medicine will attest, sleep and rest is an important part of overall well-being and psychological health. Even 110 years ago, the book advised, “the loss of a single night’s sleep shows its effects on the nervous system in the exhaustion, drowsiness, irritability, mental disturbance, and digestive derangements which ensue” (page 31).
Questions for discussion: What is your favorite trick for falling asleep? Do you notice a change in your mood when you don’t get a good night’s sleep?