How we used to sleep

Lead Research Organisation: University of Manchester
Department Name: Arts Languages and Cultures

Abstract

This project seeks to raise public awareness of the importance of healthy sleeping habits for physical and mental wellbeing by creative recreation of early modern sleeping practices - a period that has been termed a 'golden age' of sleep quality. This ambition will be achieved through a year-long collaboration with the National Trust's Tudor house Little Moreton Hall, which recreates the routines of Tudor daily life for its users. Working with Little Moreton Hall's team (including Costumed Interpreters; educational team; gardening team; staff and volunteers) and with local artists, filmmakers, social enterprises, mental healthcare providers and service users, and school groups across the northwest, the project will deliver a programme of costumed re-enactments of bedtime habits and sleep-management techniques, talks, demonstrations, hands-on activities, workshops, videos, artworks, public events and educational materials at Little Moreton Hall and across the northwest based on early modern sleeping habits and their relationship to historic healthcare practices. The programme will encourage a wide range of public audiences to place greater value on the quality of their sleep, and educate them about how to optimise their sleep quality. This initiative responds to a clearly defined need to combat the sleep deprivation 'crisis' that is endemic to globalised 24/7 societies, which damages economic growth and results in long-term physical and mental health problems.

This project has emerged from five years of research visits and collaborative activities with the National Trust, whose collections have been pivotal to the PI's published work on sleep. Her book, 'Sleep in Early Modern England' (Yale University Press, 2016) is the first major historical study of sleeping practices. The book establishes the distinctiveness of early modern sleep culture and defines a critical relationship between sleep's cultural value and its quality. These key conclusions form the core of the creative activities proposed, which will establish the critical voice of historians in sleep's modern knowledge economy, alongside those working in the fields of medicine and biological sciences.

The sleep-themed programme of activities will represent a major innovation in interpretation approaches by the National Trust, whose future policies and working practices will directly benefit from the project. The project will build the capacity of staff and volunteers at Little Moreton Hall, and NT Tudor properties in the northwest (including Baddesley Clinton and Tudor Merchants House), by training them in a cutting edge aspect of social history, thereby enabling them to deliver innovative historically-informed events for their users, to expand and deepen the engagement of their existing audiences, and to increase the revenues of the heritage industry in a long-term perspective.

This partnership will build new connections between the academic community, the heritage and creative industries, mental healthcare providers and users, and the educational sector across the northwest, creating new avenues for dissemination and new opportunities to establish the role of the humanities in responding to socio-economic challenges.

Planned Impact

The 'How we used to sleep' initiative calls for a recalibration of the balance between sleep's biological drivers, which lie at the heart of medical and scientific analyses, and its cultural and environmental dimensions. This project will demonstrate that the way people think about sleep, and how they manage it, have a critical effect on sleep quality. This core principle will be creatively communicated to a wide range of non-academic audiences, which include the heritage sector, mental healthcare providers and service users, school and community groups in the northwest region, and the general public.

The project's chief beneficiary is the National Trust's Little Moreton Hall, whose visitor base and socio-economic impact will be significantly extended. The creative programme of events will deepen users' emotional engagement with LMH by focusing on sleep: a universal aspect of human experience. LMH's profile within the NT organisation will also be enhanced as the project will be used as a case study to highlight the added value that cutting-edge historical research can bring to the heritage sector. LMH's team of staff and volunteers will also be trained in core aspects of sleep's history, building their capacity to enrich visitor enjoyment, expand their user communities, and to deliver sleep-themed activities beyond the project's lifespan.

The project will encourage public users of LMH, and the National Trust more broadly, to understand the role that healthy sleep plays in securing physical and mental health. Users will be introduced to historical strategies to manage their sleep on a daily basis and encouraged to incorporate them within their daily routines. In so doing, the project supports the work of professional healthcare providers, including the Department of Health and Public Health England, for whom preventative healthcare practices are a key priority. Mental healthcare providers and service users in Cheshire will benefit directly from the project's insights and creative approach through a carefully tailored programme of engagement activities.

This project will provide a unique case study of collaboration between the heritage industry and the academic community by placing historic sleeping practices at its centre. The project's results will be shared across the NT organisation as a model of good practice, thus contributing to policy in the heritage industry and establishing the critical role of historical research in facilitating heritage organisations to engage and expand their public audiences in creative new ways.

Additional beneficiaries of the project include the primary and secondary education sectors, whose curricula will be enriched by pioneering historical research. Local artists, social enterprises, and filmmakers will also play a key role in the design and delivery of project activities, which will enable them to expose them to new partners in the academic community and heritage industry.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Title Exhibitions 
Description The project resulted in three exhibitions hosted at Little Moreton Hall, which all explored a different aspect of sleep's history. They focused on: textiles & embroidery; ceramics & food/digestion; childhood & health. 
Type Of Art Artistic/Creative Exhibition 
Year Produced 2017 
Impact All exhibitions received very positive feedback from visitors to Little Moreton Hall. Staff and volunteers had their first experience of co-curating an event. 
URL http://www.historiesofsleep.com
 
Title Stop Animation Films 
Description As part of the Trust New Art project at Little Moreton Hall, the contents of the dream library, generated by this AHRC-funded project were set to music and made into short animated films with the support of Wild Rumpus and Scanner. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2017 
Impact A film of the animations was made and is available to view on the project website, and on the National Trust's website. The creation of the dreams and films took place at an activity-day at Little Moreton Hall, aimed at families. 
URL https://vimeo.com/248129537
 
Title The Dreamer is Still Asleep 
Description As part of this project, Little Moreton Hall and Trust New Art commissioned a sound installation from the artist Scanner, entitled 'The Dreamer is Still Asleep'. The composition was installed in the grounds of Little Moreton Hall for a number of months and it was inspired by my research - recreating the soundscape of an early modern night. A short video of the installation can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=3&v=UX427po81_4 
Type Of Art Composition/Score 
Year Produced 2017 
Impact The sound installation added a different sensory and creative dimension to the sleep project at Little Moreton Hall for those that visited. 
URL http://www.historiesofsleep.com/short-films/
 
Description The findings from this award have been used to reorient the core business and interpretation strategies of the National Trust's Little Moreton Hall. It was developed a new set of community partnerships with the Trust, and reoriented their educational strategy by making a network of schools context across the northwest region, and developing a set of schools resources that can be implemented in the future. The project has been a significant capacity-building exercise for staff and volunteers at Little Moreton Hall, who have acquired new skills, knowledge and techniques for engaging with their visitors, and the wider community, in a more meaningful way. The project has also had a significant economic benefit - driving up annual visitor numbers and quality of feedback. It has, in addition, spawned a series of follow-on collaborations between Little Moreton Hall and Universities across the northwest region, with the sleep project being rolled as a model of good practice in collaborative partnership working.
First Year Of Impact 2017
Sector Communities and Social Services/Policy,Creative Economy,Education,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural,Societal,Economic

 
Description ESRC CASE Studentship
Amount £83,000 (GBP)
Organisation NorthWest ESRC Doctoral Training Centre 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2018 
End 08/2021
 
Description How we used to sleep - partnership with the National Trust 
Organisation National Trust
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution The core of this project involved the delivery of a year-long season of public-facing activities, tours, creative installations, exhibitions and reenactments for visitors to Little Moreton Hall in relation to sleep's history. A summary of these diverse activities can be found here: http://www.historiesofsleep.com/2017/11/08/our-year-looking-at-how-we-used-to-sleep/. The project team designed all of these activities, and delivered the training to staff at Little Moreton Hall to engage successfully with their visitors. We diversified the Hall's visitor base, provided new schools' links for them, redirected their business model for the next five years, and significantly raised their profile within the National Trust organisation as a whole.
Collaborator Contribution Our partners at Little Moreton Hall provided staff and volunteer time in-kind to support and deliver our programme of activities. They provided significant marketing support for advertising events, and logistical support from the Visitor Engagement Manager and General Manager. The Hall provided office space and catering for the project assistants and for regular team meetings throughout the year. They organised 'Skills Share' sessions for staff and volunteer training, and hosted an evaluation day in December 2017.
Impact Three sleep-themed exhibitions at Little Moreton Hall; a historic re-enactment of Tudor bedtime routines by The Tudor Group; a series of videos about early modern sleeping practices hosted on our website and youtube channel; the creation of a 'Dream Library' with contributions from visitors to the Hall (mainly children) who drew their dreams and learned about early modern dreams - the archive has over 1,000 contributions; the design and installation of a 'Sleep Trail' at Little Moreton Hall for visitor education; embroidery projects to create new bedding textiles and clothes for the Hall; the creation of a 'sleep garden' in the grounds of Little Moreton Hall, which was planted with the help of service users from Carter House - a daycare centre to support adults with learning disabilities; participation in the RHS Flower Show at Tatton Park and at the Just So Festival; community workshops about the project with Macclesfield and Congleton Eye Societies, with the Women's Institute, the Arts Society and Carter House; inspiration for the 2017 Trust New Art project at Little Moreton Hall which led to a sound installation recreating the sounds of an early modern nightscape; many family workshops and themed activities delivered by staff and volunteers at the Hall.
Start Year 2017
 
Title Histories of Sleep 
Description The project led to the new website: www.historiesofsleep.com. The site hosts a vast array of information about the project activities, including regular blog posts, bespoke videos and schools materials. 
Type Of Technology Webtool/Application 
Year Produced 2017 
Impact The website led to a large number of hits from users, and to many media invitations for the PI - e.g. a podcast for BBC History Xtra; a blog post for BBC Tomorrow's World; participation in BBC Radio 4's Start the Week on 25 September 2017. 
URL http://www.historiesofsleep.com
 
Description Community Planting Workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Patients, carers and/or patient groups
Results and Impact We delivered a workshop about the sleep project to Carter House Daycare Centre and its service users, who support adults with learning difficulties. The workshop led to a visit to Little Moreton Hall in which the service users helped to plant seeds for use in the 'sleep garden' - a bed of soporific herbs and plants inspired by early modern recipes. Carter House also made their own miniature version of the garden at the daycare centre, for the use and engagement of its service users.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Community Workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Patients, carers and/or patient groups
Results and Impact We delivered a workshop about the sleep project to Congleton Eye Society, which supports patients with degenerative eye conditions. The workshop sparked lots of discussion of sleep's sensory dimensions, and the difficulties that the patients often have at night time.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Community Workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Patients, carers and/or patient groups
Results and Impact We delivered a workshop about the sleep project to Macclesfield Eye Society, which supports patients with degenerative eye conditions. The workshop sparked lots of discussion of sleep's sensory dimensions, and the difficulties that the patients often have at night time.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description RHS Flower Show - Tatton Park 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The Dream Library was taken to the RHS Show and visitors were introduced to the sleep project. They also saw part of our 'Sleep Garden' from the Hall, which was recreated on a smaller scale for the RHS Show.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.historiesofsleep.com/events/list/?tribe_paged=1&tribe_event_display=past
 
Description School Visit (Bury) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact In November 2017, members of the project team delivered six classes about sleep's history to c. 180 students at Bury Church School as part of their annual 'Wellbeing Day'. We compared historic sleeping habits to the pupils' own routines, and gave advice about how to improve sleep quality.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Schools Workshops 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact The project team delivered two workshops as part of Manchester University's Gateways programme. The programme runs engaging workshops, linked to the curriculum, with schools in deprived areas of Greater Manchester and with a high proportion of students from ethnic minorities. We used our own educational materials, developed as part of the project, to base the workshops on.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Sleep Walk 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact All visitors to Little Moreton Hall from April 27 to September 27 were invited to experience the 'Sleep Walk' - a self-led trail of curious installations exploring how we used to sleep in early modern England. Visitors were given a map upon arrival and taken through a night's sleep, Tudor style, where they encountered sleeping draughts, nightmare creatures, segmented sleep, and sunrise. We estimate that approximately 80,000 people experienced the Sleep Walk, and many positive comments about it appear in our feedback forms for the year, and on the National Trust's annual visitor survey.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.historiesofsleep.com/events/list/?tribe_paged=1&tribe_event_display=past
 
Description Start the Week 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact I took part in a live recording of BBC Radio 4's 'Start the Week' entitled 'Hard Work and Sweet Slumber' in September 2017. I talked about this project, and my wider sleep research with a panel of experts.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b095psnz
 
Description The Dream Library 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact We set up a large tent, and installed a 'Dream Library' in it, so that visitors to Little Moreton Hall could find out about early modern dreams, and then contribute their own. We have an archive of over 1,000 dreams in total, many of which were made into a stop animation film and set to music. Visitor feedback shows that the tent was very engaging, especially on an emotional level, and that it captured the interest of children in particular.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.historiesofsleep.com/events/list/?tribe_paged=1&tribe_event_display=past
 
Description Tudor All-Nighter 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The Tudor Group - a historical re-enactment group, were commissioned by the project to deliver a reenactment of a typical set of early modern bedtime routines for the general public. This event was free, and drew a large number of non-National Trust members to it, all of whom gave very positive feedback and reported learning new information about historic and modern sleeping practices.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.historiesofsleep.com/events/list/?tribe_paged=1&tribe_event_display=past
 
Description Website creation 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact To support project activities, and engage a wider set of users with the research, we created the website: www.historiesofsleep.com to house information about all our events and activities throughout the year. This includes blog posts, bespoke videos, and schools resources designed for the primary and secondary school curricula.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.historiesofsleep.com