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Abstract

This article traces a critical phase of change in the history of English sleeping practices. It examines the emergence of a new set of ‘sociable’ sleeping habits among certain sections of English society in the years 1660 to 1760. These habits were characterized by late hours of rising and retiring, the increased mobility of sleepers through different beds, chambers and houses, and the emergence of distinctive forms of sleep-etiquette. All of these experiences were linked to the pursuit of new modes of public and domestic sociability that were underpinned by socio-economic change, physical shifts in the urban landscape and domestic household, and by shifting medical and philosophical understandings of sleep. The article uses household inventories, account books, personal testimonies and a wide range of published treatises to examine how sociable sleeping habits became established as a lifestyle choice in the years after 1660.