Curator Finds Murphy Bed’s Place in American History


Inventor William Lawrence Murphy (1856-1957) began tinkering with hideaway beds while living in a one-room apartment in San Francisco in the late 19th century. He was falling for a young opera singer and courting customs at that time would not permit a lady to enter a gentleman’s bedroom. But according to family legend, Murphy’s limited finances and a strict moral code didn’t spoil his chance at love. His invention allowed him to stow his bed in his closet, transforming his one-room apartment from a bedroom into a parlor.

The couple married in 1900.

Today, the Murphy bed, a bed that can be folded into a cabinet, is a household brand. National Museum of American History’s Assistant Collections Manager Robyn J. Einhorn researched the bed’s place in American history for her second master’s thesis.

The Murphy bed’s increasing popularity came “because of a combination of good timing, a quality product, and an inventive marketing strategy,” Einhorn writes, “A housing shortage, brought on by large population spurts in the country resulted in the building of smaller homes.”

More often slapstick rather than theses, see Charlie Chaplin take on a finicky Murphy bed above. The bed continues to make us laugh in films like, Police Academy II (1985) and Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (1988) as well as television’s “Family Guy.”

William Murphy first patented his bed in 1911. His design placed a full-sized mattress on a metal frame that hid in a closet during the day and easily converted a dressing room, sleeping porch, or parlor into an extra bedroom at night. Through the 1920s, newspaper advertisements for apartments used the Murphy bed as a selling point.

Though Murphy beds are often pricier than their normal counterparts, ” continue to fill a need in living spaces of today, whether it is for small city apartments or suburban homes of empty nesters turning a college student’s old bedroom into an office/guest space,” Einhorn says.

Additional reporting by Daniel Friend, Inside Smithsonian Research

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MICROSLEEP CAUSES AND DANGERS What Happens When You’re Awake, but Your Brain Goes to Sleep?


You’re driving home after a long day of work, and suddenly, you realize that you don’t remember the last mile. You can’t recall if the light was red or green when you went through the intersection. Maybe you even missed your turn. Sound familiar? If so, you’ve experienced microsleep. And the dangers it can bring.

What Is Microsleep?

Microsleep is a brief, involuntary episode of unconsciousness lasting anywhere from a fleeting moment up to several seconds.

During this rather bizarre state, your eyes may be open, you can be sitting upright and you might even be performing a task, but certain areas of your brain have gone completely offline. In other words, you may think you’re awake, but parts of your brain are actually asleep.

“We often use phrases like “zoned out” or “autopilot” to describe microsleep,” said Mary Helen Rogers, vice president of marketing and communications for the Better Sleep Council. “That’s pretty accurate, since we’re not functioning at our full mental capacity during these periods of time.”

What Causes Microsleep?

Microsleep happens without warning, at any time of the day, most often when you are already sleep deprived. Research shows that even a single night of insufficient sleep can result in increased microsleep episodes.

But it’s not just fatigue from a poor night’s rest that causes our brains to check out. Microsleep is also closely associated with performing a boring, monotonous task. For example, one study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information had well-rested participants use a joystick to track a moving target on a computer screen for 50 minutes. On average, subjects experienced 79 episodes of microsleep that lasted up to 6 seconds each during the experiment. That’s a lot of zoning out in just 1 hour.

Why Is Microsleep Dangerous?

“The big issue with microsleep is that we’re much more likely to make critical mistakes in this half-awake, half-asleep state,” added Rogers.

During microsleep, scientists have been able to measure localized areas of the brain switching to slow-wave, sleep-like activity. The thalamus, in particular, becomes less active. Since the thalamus is responsible for interpreting incoming sensory signals, your reaction time and ability to pay attention suffers.

Many fatal accidents (2016 London tram derailment) and tragic disasters (1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident) have been linked to microsleep. That doesn’t include the host of minor fender benders and countless products that have come off the assembly line missing screws.

Can You Avoid It?

The best way to prevent microsleep is to get enough quality sleep each night for you to function throughout the day and not feel fatigued. But when you still have to do repetitive tasks, like drive long distances, operate heavy machinery or just work an 8-hour shift of data entry, you can try some of these tips to stave off potential misteps or accidents caused by microsleep:

  • Take a power nap. A short, 20-minute siesta can recharge your brain so you are more alert for a longer period of time.
  • Take a break. Changing what you’re doing for a few minutes every half-hour or so activates different parts of your brain to reduce the monotony. Better yet, get up and move around during your break to get your blood flowing.
  • Have a lively conversation. Chatting forces you to concentrate on the back-and-forth of a discussion. Plus, talking increases your breathing rate, which puts more oxygen in your bloodstream.
  • Turn up the tunes. Loud, upbeat music can lift your mood. If you’re alone or in good company, feel free to sing along.
  • Have some caffeine. Just remember, it takes about 30 minutes for the stimulation to kick in. And don’t have too much too close to your normal bedtime; you might not fall asleep and end up feeling even more tired tomorrow.

Article courtesy of Better Sleep Council

How To Sleep After Exercise To Aid Muscle Recovery & Growth

Trying to sleep after exercise can prove a lot more difficult than you’d first imagine. Though you may feel physically exhausted, post-exercise insomnia can set in, particularly after strenuous workouts or endurance tests. Here are our tips and tricks for sleeping after exercise and the reasons why it’s so important to do so if you want those gains.

We’ve all felt the benefits of a great night’s sleep. But it’s even more important for athletes to rest properly to aid muscle recovery and growth after exercise.

Training, tossing & turning

After a big race or heavy training session, sleeplessness can occur. This is also known as post-exercise insomnia.

Ways to prevent post-exercise insomnia

  • Work out no less than 3 hours before bedtime
  • Drink lots of water before, during and after exercise
  • Only consume caffeine before your exercise, not continuously throughout
  • A hot bath/shower will prepare your body for sleep
  • For a comfortable sleep cool your bedroom to between 15-20°C

What happens in your body during exercise?

  • Dehydration from sweating
  • Caffeine consumed through energy drinks/snacks
  • Increase in heart rate & core temperature
  • Suppressed melatonin production
  • Stimulated nervous & endocrine systems

How does this affect your sleep?

  • It’s difficult to lower your core temperature when you’re dehydrated from endurance exercises. Dehydration also raises your heart rate, meaning no sleep for you!
  • During exercise, we produce the stress hormones cortisol and norepinephrine. Put simply, the body stays hyped even after the race is over!
  • Cortisol also stops the production of melatonin, a.k.a. the sleep hormone. Bright lights at the gym will inhibit melatonin production, too.

Deep sleep

During sleep, we pass through various stages, all of which play a role to restoration. Stages 3 and 4 of non-REM sleep, also known as ‘deep sleep’, are the most important for muscle recovery.

Ideal sleep time

8-10 hours

Anything longer can reset your body clock and damage your sleep cycle the following night. Anything shorter may not give adequate time for your body to fully recover from the stress of training.

What happens during deep sleep?

  • Blood pressure drops
  • Breathing becomes deeper and slower
  • Blood not used in your resting brain is sent to muscles
  • Muscles receive extra oxygen & nutrients which helps with healing and growth
  • The pituitary gland releases human growth hormone, causing tissue growth & muscle repair
  • New cells are regenerated & muscle tissue is replenished

More exercise = more sleep required

Physical activity puts stress on the muscles and nervous system. This is rebuilt during sleep.

When it’s most important

  • Strength or weight training
  • Periods of extra training leading up to an event
  • Endurance tests like marathons

Why it’s most important


During strenuous workouts, muscles build up microscopic tears. Sleep helps to heal those tears as your body produces larger molecules to repair muscular, immune and nervous system problems.


The body needs to synthesize proteins faster than it breaks them down to build up muscles. Sleep is the best time for the body to use absorbed nutrients for this protein synthesis as it’s the longest we go without eating.

Did you know?

Building muscle mass is also known as hypertrophy

Make the most of your training with a great night’s sleep – the results should follow!

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How Electronics Affect Sleep

Our world is full of gadgets. For both work and entertainment, technology use is increasingly popular, and the evening hours are no exception. For example, a recent poll by the National Sleep Foundation found that 95% of people use some type of computer, video game, or cell phone at least a few nights a week within the hour before bed.

But scientists are now finding that light from electronics has the potential to disrupt sleep because it sends alerting signals to the brain. The circadian rhythm seems to be especially sensitive to light with short wavelengths—in particular, blue light in the 460-nanometer range of the electromagnetic spectrum. This light, which is given off by electronics like computers and cell phones, and also by energy-efficient bulbs, has been shown to delay the release of melatonin. In other words, electronics could keep you feeling charged past bedtime.

If you have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, consider keeping electronics out of the bedroom and turning them off—especially those used at close range—for at least an hour before bed. It can take some time for the body to come down from technology’s alerting effects. Protect your evening wind-down time by reading a book, for example. Let your body chemistry settle for the night.

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How to Make Good Sleep a Strong Habit

Good sleep? A regular sleeping pattern? Feeling fresh in the morning? These are not things the average Brit can claim they experience. According to a survey by the Independent, over half of all UK adults state they do not get enough sleep. And while there’s plenty of research around poor sleep to deep-dive into, there’s one consistent theme: bad habits. To counteract, here’s our guide on how to change for the better and achieve a good night’s sleep, every night.

Even though the reasons many Brits struggle to sleep can be boiled down to bad habits, the solutions aren’t quite as simple. That’s because you’ll most likely need to make more than one change to the way you approach sleep. These aren’t huge changes, but by taking only one on board, you’ll see nowhere as much progress as you would by considering all aspects. So, if your new year’s resolution is to sleep better, you’ll want to know about these factors and how can you use them to sleep better.

Sleep Environment – Light, noise and temperature for good sleep.

No doubt you’ll have heard plenty about ‘getting your eight hours’ and the impact of exercise on sleep, so we’re going to start with what’s often most overlooked – your sleep environment. This includes everything from your mattress to your lights, whether you watch TV before bed, have blackout blinds or listen to whale-music from a voice-activated speaker.

The amount of light, noise and heat in your bedroom plays a huge role in whether you get a good night’s rest. A big part of making good sleep a habit is ensuring your bedroom has the right atmosphere for sleep. To help you sleep well, your bedroom needs to be cool, quiet and dark. These conditions send the right signals to your body which will start to respond accordingly.

Another big factor for getting the right amount of sleep is how tidy you keep your bedroom. Decluttered rooms promote sleep as they offer fewer distractions and help you relax. This is especially important If you like to spend time in bed before you go to sleep. If so, you’ll need to make sure your room is set up to gently lull you towards a state of relaxation. Make sure any lighting is dim, noise is at a low level and that screens are turned off, including your phone.

If you already think your room is set up to promote a good night’s rest, consider investing in some sleep technology. These products include plug-in lamps which cast light that has a positive effect on your sleeping pattern. White and blue light – caused by electronic devices – stops the body from producing melatonin, a hormone directly related to your sleep-wake cycle.

You can also invest in other sleeping aids such as scent diffusers and sleep trackers which can help you create the perfect atmosphere and analyze the results. Finally, if you’re still struggling to sleep, it may be time for a new mattress.

Top tips:

  • Use black-out curtains if you find you wake too early in the summer months
  • Invest in sleep technology lights to help your body recognize it’s time to sleep
  • Keep your room tidy, decluttered and use warm, relaxing tones for your décor

Behavior & Diet for Good Sleep

How you behave during the course of the day impacts your sleep. If you drink a lot of caffeine, eat foods high in sugar, take a lot of naps or don’t exercise regularly you’ll most likely struggle to make sleep a good habit.

The good news is that you don’t need to eradicate all the pleasures of life just to achieve good sleep. Instead, it’s about quantity. Cutting down your caffeine intake and the length of your naps will quickly help you get better sleep.

Improving your diet and the amount you exercise will also have a massive impact. Don’t think this means you need to cut out all treats and exercise every single day – you’ll see improvements with small changes, so long as they’re regular.

One of the biggest parts of a good sleep habit is consistency. Waking up and falling asleep at the same time each day helps the body regulate its sleep pattern. After just a few days of forcing the habit, your body will start to respond – improving your mood when you wake up and relaxing your body at night. It’s also important to try and avoid snoozing your alarm – this confuses your body and will not help you develop a regular sleeping pattern.

Top tips:

  • Cut out caffeine after 6 pm. If you like hot drinks, use relaxing, caffeine-free herbal options like chamomile and green tea
  • Regulate your diet and eat at the same time each day, with no high-sugar snacks before bed
  • Set yourself a time to wake up and stick to it

How to get a good night’s sleep every single night

According to a report from the NHLBI, losing an hour or two of sleep over several nights can impact your ability to function to the same level as not sleeping for one or two days. And with 38% of the country saying they never achieve the recommended 8 hours it’s clear to see this is a problem.

The biggest factor is consistency – getting to sleep and waking at the same time each day. Of course, this isn’t always possible, but by making an effort to regulate your sleeping pattern, you’ll quickly see the benefits. To help, we’ve put together a summary of the best steps to help you get better sleep, night after night.

  • Set a time to go to sleep and stick to it at least 6 days a week
  • Switch off all screens and put down your phone one hour before you plan to sleep
  • Eat a balanced diet, avoiding sugar and caffeine after 6 pm
  • Set your alarm for the same time each morning and do not snooze
  • Exercise at least 3 times per week, leaving a couple of hours to relax before sleep

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How Noise Affects Your Sleep

While you sleep, your brain continues to register and process sounds on a basic level. Noise can jostle your slumber—causing you to wake, move, shift between stages of sleep, or experience a change in heart rate and blood pressure—so briefly that you don’t remember the next morning. Whether sounds disturb your sleep depends on factors such as the stage of sleep you’re in, the time of night, and even your feelings about the sounds themselves.

Noises are more likely to wake you from a light sleep (stages 1 and 2), than from a deep sleep (stages 3 and 4), and tend to be more disruptive in the second half of the night. If you share a bed with someone, you know that there is individual variation in sensitivity to noise. In fact, a recent study found that “sound sleepers” have characteristic brain activity that may make them more impervious to noise.

Interestingly, whether or not a sound bothers your sleep depends in part on that sound’s personal meaning: researchers have seen that people are more likely to wake when a sound is relevant or emotionally charged. This is why, for example, a parent could sleep soundly through her partner’s snores but wake fully when her baby fusses.

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What Does The Way You Dress Your Bed Say About You?

Bed-making. It’s a very personal affair. Some people couldn’t dream of leaving the house without a perfectly preened bed display while others couldn’t care less…

Bed-making. It’s a very personal affair. Some people couldn’t dream of leaving the house without a perfectly preened bed display while others couldn’t care less if the duvet was even still on the bed. Whatever point of the scale you find yourself at, we bet we can guess some of your personality traits. Here’s our take on what the way you dress your bed says about you.

Military base

Your sheets are pulled so tight you could bounce a penny off them and they are complete with hospital corners for a pristine finish. Nothing is a millimeter out of place. All bed linen is starched and ironed and there isn’t one throw or scatter cushion in sight.

If this is your bed, you’re probably a bit of a neat freak (though that might be an understatement!). You like to be in control of situations and aren’t one for spontaneity. You’re a creature of habit and like things done efficiently and properly – with absolutely no frills.

Remember that your bed is a place for relaxation, so loosen those sheets and let yourself starfish!

Colour coordinated

Your bed most likely resembles a photo in a catalog. That’s because you bought your matching bedding, sheet, throw, scatter cushions and entire bedroom furniture from the same store. Your bed is made in the best replication of that room set you fell in love with right down to the way the throw is folded.

This bed-maker is not a natural born leader. You probably need a lot of help making decisions and very rarely go with your gut instinct. However, once you commit, you fully commit, meaning you’re extremely trustworthy.

Your bedroom should be an expression of yourself, so don’t be afraid to experiment with designs you love.

Draped and dreamy

A strewn duvet, an artistically flung throw and some luscious, plump pillows at the top of the bed. The bed frame is laced with fairy lights and the room has a cozy but lived-in feel to it. The color scheme is most likely pastels with hints of metallic sparkles.

If you sleep in a bed like this, you’re a big old romantic who loves nothing more than a cuddly lie in with your significant other. You’re sensitive and aren’t afraid to talk about or show your emotions. You’re a great friend but could be taken advantage of due to your free-spirited nature.

Keep enjoying your bedroom in the way you want to… but try to keep the guest room tidy!

More is more

It takes a while for you to get into bed due to the sheer number of cushions, throws and pillows piled on top. Your bed looks like it was dressed for royalty and has tonnes of textures to indulge in – velvet, silk, faux fur, Egyptian cotton, the list goes on. Your ideal bed would be a four-poster.

If this is your bed, you’re a serious lover of all things luxury. Whether it’s a bottle of wine or a loaf of bread, you’ll only buy the best. You live life to the max and are very outgoing and generous. You love socializing but often turn up late because you lost track of time trying to choose the perfect outfit.

It’s great that you take so much pride in your bedroom, but don’t make the mistake of choosing style over comfort.

Hidden horrors

At first glance, your bed looks tidy with a throw resting across the top. But what’s that underneath? Either dirty sheets, messy bedding, old socks or worse… no bedding at all! There’s some serious cover-up going on here.

Like your bed, you probably have something to hide or feel like you do. You’re polite and friendly but rarely get into deep conversations. You don’t mind being a loner and quite like your own company. That might be because you don’t trust people very easily.

Sort out that mess underneath the sheet… we bet your bed will feel a lot comfier!

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Bringing Comfort Home…