General, Research, Technology

Where and how did they sleep in Russia before the mass appearance of beds?

In the 19th century, there were no Russian peasants in the housesbeds - only rich people had such furniture. We already know from fairy tales and old films that in those days many people slept on the stove, but everything is not as simple as it seems. After all, there was only one stove in the huts, and families often consisted of three or more people. Where did the rest of the family sleep? As part of this article, I propose to figure out what other sleeping places were in Russian houses and what strange rules people were forced to follow during sleep. For example, people went to bed exclusively in their clothes, because this was important for personal hygiene and protection from terrible superstitions. Also, during sleep, a kind of hierarchy was maintained - some family members could sleep in the most comfortable places, while others were located on hard boards. In general, the topic is quite interesting, so let's start right now.

It is believed that hundreds of years ago, people slept on the stove. But not everything is so simple


  • 1 Russian stove for sleeping
  • 2 What is Polati?
  • 3 Where did the men sleep?
  • 4 Why didn't people take off their clothes?
  • 5 How long did people sleep?

Russian stove for sleeping

The bed on the stove was the most comfortable place to sleep.Firstly, there was enough room on it for a comfortable sleep. Secondly, it remained warm for a long time, which was especially important during winter frosts. As a rule, elderly grandparents slept on the stove, but sometimes young people also lay down there. It was believed that the heat from a brick bed could cure colds and many other diseases. Therefore, sick family members also fell on her. Out of turn, so to speak.

Stove with stove bench

What is Polati?

The second most comfortable sleeping place in Russianshouses were the so-called polati. These are benches in the form of wooden shelves, located between the wall of the hut and the stove. In addition, this was the name given to the decks erected under the ceiling. In these places it was almost as warm as on the stove. In addition, there were no drafts between the walls and near the ceiling. As a rule, children slept on the floor - the old people simply could not climb on them. In addition, under the weight of adults, the legs could fall, and children weigh a little and this risk is minimized.

Polati in the Russian hut

Where did the men sleep?

The beds were located on one side of the Russian stove.On the other side was the Babi Kut - a space where women went about their business. Usually this part of the house was hidden under a curtain and the appearance of a man in it was regarded as an insult. Opposite the woman's kut was the corner of the head of the family, where a man could make things and even sleep. In addition to the stove and the bed, people could also sleep on bunks - wide benches made of wood. Also, chests and even ordinary bags of flour could be used for sleeping. Where there is a place and even a little comfortable, they slept there.

The red corner is the most honorable place in the hut, where there was a table and icons

Interesting fact: more or less comfortable places to sleep appearedonly in the 1920s. According to statistics, in those days most of the villagers slept on beds, about 40% rested on the floor, about 5% slept on the stove, 3% on the floor and 1% on bunks.

Why didn't people take off their clothes?

Bed linen did not exist for ordinary people. Instead of a pillow, soft things like a fur coat were usually used. Winter clothing was also used as a blanket.

During sleep, residents of wooden houses did not take picturesclothes. The fact is that they were forced to sleep on hard sacks filled with hay and covered with sheep's skins. Needless to say, the bed was not clean. People slept in clothes, and if something happened they could just wash them. In addition, there were quite a few spiders, bugs and ants in the wooden huts. It was very difficult to get rid of them with folk remedies, so people were saved by clothes.

People slept in clothes, because without them it was uncomfortable and dirty

Do not forget about superstitions.People believed that during sleep, each person is transported to another world, and it is very shameful to appear there naked. In addition, a naked person has always been considered vulnerable to evil spirits. But sometimes the girls broke the rules and went to sleep naked. So they hoped to see a prophetic dream or talk to evil spirits.

Read also: Why Do We Believe in the Supernatural?

How long did people sleep?

As for the duration of sleep, there were manyrestrictions. Today we know very well that adults need about 8 hours of sleep for good health. If we don't get distracted by TV shows and social networks, we can quite afford it. But the peasants worked 15 hours a day and did not have much time to sleep. Usually all family members sat down to dinner and went to bed at sunset. Within 5 hours they were forced to get up to feed the cattle, get firewood, and so on.

An afternoon nap was a must for the peasants

Five hours of sleep was not enough for people, soafternoon naps were common. It usually did not last long, about 2 hours. But this was not even a whim of the people, but a tradition. It was believed that without good rest, good work was out of the question. No stove was required for a day's sleep - people could simply lean against a haystack and have a great rest.

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There is another article on our site about the life of a hundredyears ago. In it, I talked about the strangest "folk remedies" against various diseases. For example, to heal fractures, people would pull a brick from the back of a furnace, grind it, and add it to a boiling mixture of vegetable oils. But did it help with fracture healing? Read this link.