Audio relaxation techniques date back to the Sixteenth Century

July 11, 2012

(Medical Xpress) -- The use of birdsong and the sound of running water to aid sleep has been used for more than five hundred years, according to researchers at Royal Holloway, University of London. 

Members of the upper classes began using the audio relaxation techniques, using portable fountains that released a soft sound, in the sixteenth and seventeenth century as people became aware of the health benefits of sleep.

Professor Sandra Cavallo, from the Department of History at Royal Holloway, has carried out a study analysing the extensive use of family correspondence and household inventories with the diachronic analysis of health advice literature.

She discovered that during the decades that straddle the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries a new culture of rest emerged.

Professor Cavallo explains: “Chairs and beds specifically designed for resting during the day became common both in summer residences and urban palaces. These were small size and freestanding beds, surrounded on all sides by bed curtains and covered on top by a canopy replaced the monumental ‘open bed’ that was a feature of the previous period.”

There was growing awareness of the importance of sleep in terms of health benefits, with medical professionals playing an important role in directing and monitoring the ongoing changes.

Male and female sleeping quarters were created in palaces, with the bedroom of the most prosperous a secluded space for individual use. “The use of multiple mattresses increased the comfort of laying in bed for the most privileged,” Professor Cavallo says.  “While the singing of birds coming from remote parts of the globe and the introduction of devices such as portable fountains that released a soft sound conducive to sleep made the experience of sleeping more pleasant.”

She adds: “Undoubtedly, the new objects had a multifunctional value but one of their declared aims was to make more salubrious according to the principles of healthy life promoted in the advice literature of the time.”

Explore further: Helping people with dementia catch some zzz's

Related Stories

Helping people with dementia catch some zzz's

August 29, 2011

Sometimes counting sheep just doesn’t work. Sleep deprivation is a common problem for everyone, no matter what their age, but for those suffering dementia, healthy sleep is critical and untreated sleep problems are one ...

On March 11, spring forward without losing sleep

March 6, 2012

(Medical Xpress) -- The return of daylight saving time and losing an hour of sleep causes most to cringe at the thought. According to Aparajitha Verma, M.D., medical director of the Sleep Disorders Center at the Methodist ...

Recommended for you

Losing sleep over climate change

May 26, 2017

Climate change may keep you awake—and not just metaphorically. Nights that are warmer than normal can harm human sleep, researchers show in a new paper, with the poor and elderly most affected. According to their findings, ...

Vitamin D supplements could help pain management

May 23, 2017

Vitamin D supplementation combined with good sleeping habits may help manage pain-related diseases. This paper published in the Journal of Endocrinology, reviews published research on the relationship between vitamin D levels, ...

Recommended daily protein intake too low for the elderly

May 23, 2017

You can find the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) on the nutrition labels of all your processed food. Food manufacturers are obliged to list the nutritional value of their products, and therefore must mention the percent ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Anthony Name
not rated yet Jul 11, 2012
Now a days, several people have been suffering with sleeping problems because of stress and pressure. I would like to suggest a technique called "Comedy Podcasts."

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.