General remarks. Hints to fathers.—SEC. 1. Proper hours for repose. Dark rooms. Noise.—SEC. 2. Place for sleeping. Sleeping alone—reasons.—SEC. 3. Purity of the air in sleeping rooms.—SEC. 4. The bed. Objections to feathers. Other materials.—SEC. 5. The covering of beds. Covering the head.—SEC. 6. Night Dresses. Robes.—SEC. 7. Posture of the body in sleep.—SEC. 8. State of the mind.—SEC. 9. Quality of sleep.—SEC. 10. Quantity of sleep.
Not a few persons consider all rules relative to sleep as utterly futile. They regard it as so much of a natural or animal process, that if we are let alone we shall seldom err, at any age, respecting it. Rules on the subject, above all, they regard as wholly misplaced.
Those who entertain such views, would do well, in order to be consistent, to go a little farther; and as breathing and eating and drinking—nay, even thinking—are natural processes, deny the utility of all rules respecting them also. Perhaps they would do well, moreover, to deny that rules of any sort are valuable. But would not this have the effect to bar the door perpetually against all human improvement? Would it not be equivalent to saying, to a half-civilized, because only half-christianized community—Go on with your barbarous customs, and your uncleanly and unthinking habits, forever?
But I have not so learned human nature. I regard man as susceptible of endless progression. And I know of no way in which more rapid progress can be made, than by enlightening young mothers on subjects which pertain to our physical nature, and the means of physical improvement. Not for the sake of that perishable part of man, the frame, but because it is nearly in vain to attempt to improve the mind and heart, without due attention to the frame-work, to which mind and heart, for the present, are appended, and most intimately related.
Let it be left to fathers to study the improvement of hounds and horses and cattle, and at the same time to think themselves above the concerns of the nursery. We may, indeed, read of a Cato once in three thousand years, who was in the habit of quitting all other business in order to be present when the nurse washed and rubbed his child. But our passion for gain, in the present age, is so much more absorbing and soul-destroying than the passion for military glory, that we cannot expect many Catos. Oh no. All, or nearly all, must devolve on the mother. The father has no time to attend to his children! What belongs to the mother, if she can be duly awakened, may be at least half done; what belongs to the father, must, I fear, be left undone.
I am accustomed to regard every day—even of the infant—as a miniature life. I am, moreover, accustomed to consider mental and bodily vigor, not only for each separate day, but for life’s whole day, as greatly influenced by the circumstances of sleep; the HOUR, PLACE, PURITY OF THE AIR, THE BED, THE COVERING, DRESS, POSTURE, STATE OF THE MIND, QUALITY, QUANTITY, AND DURATION.