The habit our American people have, of two individuals occupying the same bed, is not a good one, and although it has been almost universal in the past, it is being abandoned to a great extent in many localities. Two single beds in a well ventilated room will much better accommodate any two individuals than one double bed.
An individual who has habitually slept alone, will often observe, after having slept with another person a few nights, that he is either feeling better or worse. If he feels better, it is at the expense of the strength and vitality of the other, if worse, he has imparted a portion of his own strength to the other who is correspondingly benefited.
Of two children who habitually occupy the same bed, one will often be observed to grow rapidly and present a picture of perfect health, while the other is pale, thin, peevish and poorly nourished.
Of two individuals thus sleeping, one will have slept soundly and quietly, and will awaken refreshed and strengthened. The other will pass a more or less sleepless night, will toss restlessly about, and will awaken in the morning tired and unrefreshed. There seems to be a migration, as it were, of nervous force, or a transposition of electrical or nervous influence, from the one to the other. The weaker one takes from the strong often, until the strong one becomes weak.
An old person will thus quickly reduce the vitality of a child. An invalid will produce a marked impression upon a healthy person.
Two nervous persons of our acquaintance discovered after a long and uncomfortable experience, that both were unpleasantly influenced by sleeping together. Often neither would sleep and if hands or feet touched, a tingling sensation like an electric current was observed, which was exceedingly unpleasant to both.
Husbands and wives can often be benefitted by sleeping in separate beds, and the benefits are so apparent and agreeable to those who have tried it that they are loath to resume the old habit. With. young married people who desire to avoid pregnancy, this is by far the most certain, safe, reliable and justifiable course they can possibly adopt. And the more remote the rooms are which contain the beds, the better,
Dr. Woodward of Chicago tells me that in several unmistakable cases which he has had an opportunity to observe, over an extended period, where a widowed mother, and maiden daughter habitually slept in the same bed, the change of life, with the younger woman, appeared as early as from 35 to 37 years of age and was, he believed, precipitated and completed nearly ten years earlier than it should have been through the influence of the condition of the mother, and that she grew old rapidly after the change. This is a most important observation if it is true, and it should be impressed upon the mind of the attending physician, who should warn his patients of such results.
Ellingwood's Therapeutist, Vol. 2, 1908, was edited by Finley Ellingwood M.D.