The terrors of the night − dreams, nightmares and sleep disorders − plagued men, women and children throughout the early modern period. As the writings of the most famous English diarist Samuel Pepys (1633–1703) illustrate, early modern sleep was often a source of extreme anxiety and discomfort. On the 3rd of December 1661, Samuel Pepys recorded the following dream:

And so to bed, but had a very bad night by dreams of my wife’s riding with me and her horse throwing her and breaking her leg and then I dreamed that I … [was] in such pain that I waked with it and had a great deal of pain there a very great while till I fell asleep again and such apprehension I had of it that when I rose and trussed up myself thinking that it had been no dream. 1