About us

Professor Sasha Handley is Professor of Early Modern History at the University of Manchester and is the Principal Investigator on the How We Used to Sleep project. Sasha’s research explores ideas, practices, environments and objects relating to sleep in seventeenth and eighteenth-century English society and the ways in which they shaped sleep-quality. Funding for this research has been provided by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the British Academy.

Sasha’s sleep-related publications include Sleep in Early Modern England (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2016), ISBN: 9780300220391. Relevant journal articles include:

  •  “Deformities of nature: sleepwalking and non-conscious states of mind in late eighteenth-century Britain,” Journal of the History of Ideas (forthcoming, 2016).
  • “Sociable Sleeping in Early Modern England, 1660-1760,” History: the Journal of the Historical Association, 98:329 (2013): 79-104.
  • “From the Sacral to the Moral: Sleeping Practices, Household Worship and Confessional Cultures in Late Seventeenth-Century England,” Cultural and Social History 9:1 (2012): 27-46.
  • “Sleepwalking, Subjectivity and the Nervous Body in Eighteenth-Century England,” Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies 35:3 (2012): 305-323.

Follow Sasha on Twitter @sashahandley


Anna Fielding works for both the University of Manchester and the National Trust at Little Moreton Hall in Congleton. Her role involves researching early modern sleep, disseminating Sasha Handley’s work on sleep and its healthcare benefits for early modern people, and developing interpretation materials and activities at the hall. This is
all part of the How We Used to Sleep project between The University of Manchester and the National Trust, funded by the AHRC. An integral part of Anna’s role involves ensuring the project leaves a legacy for the future as the hall continues to explore Tudor preventative healthcare regimes over the next 3 years.Find out about upcoming sleep-related activities by following the hall on Twitter:@NTlittlemoreton.



Dr Rachel Winchcombe is a researcher for the How We Used to Sleep project and a lecturer in early modern history at the University of Manchester. Her interest in early modern preventative healthcare and the system of the six non-naturals began during her doctoral research. An important aspect of Rachel’s research looks at the ways in which English understandings of bodily health impacted upon the development of English colonialism in America in the sixteenth century. Rachel’s role for this project involves updating the blog with all things sleep-related, developing educational resources on humoral theory, the six non-naturals, and early modern sleep management, and disseminating the fascinating and complex history of sleep to the general public. Follow Rachel on Twitter @rachelwinchers.