The Health Reformer


February 1, 1874

That Spare Bed


While traveling in the Eastern States we have experienced the results of sleeping in the spare bed, so that I have a terror of sleeping in rooms that have not been ventilated for weeks, and in beds that have not been used, but have been left until they have accumulated dampness and a moldy odor. We should visit many more families in our travels, if we were not fearful of being obliged to sleep in that spare bed. HR February 1, 1874, par. 1

I cannot see why men and women who are intelligent upon other subjects do not understand the necessity of thoroughly ventilating their houses. It is at the risk of health and life itself to venture a visit among friends whose society we enjoy. We are often obliged to make careful inquiry in reference to the condition of their beds, and are frequently assured that all is right. But soon after retiring we are convinced that we are in a damp bed, taking cold. HR February 1, 1874, par. 2

At times, when we desire above all others to be in the best health, with clearness of thought and healthful vigor, prepared for public labors, we are suffering with aching head for want of rest, and from the effects of cold by sleeping in that spare bed. Although unfitted to address the people, we cannot be excused. We must nerve ourselves for the task, and, by will power, rise above languor and depression, and do the best we can. The extra exertion we are obliged to make on a single occasion tells more upon our strength than to labor weeks free from the difficulties brought upon us by sleeping in that spare bed. HR February 1, 1874, par. 3

Rooms that are not freely ventilated daily, and bedding that has not been thoroughly dried and aired, are not fit for use. We feel confident that disease and great suffering are brought on by sleeping in rooms with closed and curtained windows, not admitting the pure air and the rays of the sun. HR February 1, 1874, par. 4

Some seem to think that rooms that have not been used, and daily ventilated, need only to have the windows raised a short time before the sleeping hour. The room may not have had a thorough airing for months, and has not had the advantages of a fire for weeks, if at all. It is dangerous to health and life to sleep in these rooms until the outside air shall have circulated freely through them for several hours, and the bedding shall have been dried by the fire. Unless this precaution is taken, the rooms and bedding will be damp. Every room in the house should be thoroughly ventilated every day, and in damp weather should be warmed by fires. HR February 1, 1874, par. 5

I observe in California that many, during the rainy season, are suffering with colds, catarrh, sore throat, lung difficulties, neuralgia, and rheumatism. I can understand the reason of these maladies. The main parts of most of the houses are destitute of fire-places and stoves. In the rainy season dampness must affect rooms that have no fires. These sleeping apartments cannot be dried in continuous wet weather. The bedding must become damp, and will be musty unless dried before a fire. This is seldom done. In addition to this neglect of fires in sleeping apartments, air and light are generally excluded by closed windows and heavy curtains. But few seem to understand that the air in these closed rooms becomes impure and unfit for the lungs. Those who occupy such apartments cannot have health. The emanations from damp, moldy rooms and clothing are poisonous to the system. HR February 1, 1874, par. 6

Many seem to think that if they exclude the air from their rooms because it is damp and foggy, they have an atmosphere in their houses perfectly safe to breathe. But we have to breathe in damp and foggy days as well as in pleasant, sunny weather. We must accept the air which God gives us, which is subject to atmospheric changes, sometimes dry and invigorating, while again it is damp, chill, and penetrating. We must meet these changes as they come, and make provision the best we can to guard ourselves from the effects of damp and chilly atmosphere, and not subject ourselves to a greater evil by breathing air over and over again that has lost its vital properties. HR February 1, 1874, par. 7

I find it almost impossible to convince those who are accustomed to live in rooms from which the fresh air has been excluded, of the unhealthfulness of such rooms. Like faithful sentinels they guard windows and doors as if fearful the impure air would escape and fresh air take its place. When we enter such houses the confined air of unventilated rooms meets us with sickening odors of mildew and mold, and the impurities exhaled from its inmates. I could not live in such an atmosphere. It is painful for me to remain there even but a short time. HR February 1, 1874, par. 8

During the rainy season in California, or anywhere else, when the sun does shine, we should make the most of it. Every room in our dwellings should be daily thrown open to the healthful rays of the sun, and the purifying air should be invited in. This will be a preventive of disease. We would say to our friends, If you think that clouds and rain bring dampness and endanger health, God sends to you his blessed, healthful sunshine, and pure, dry air. Will you welcome these great blessings by opening to these guests every room in your dwellings? If all would appreciate the sunshine, and expose every article of clothing to its drying, purifying rays, mildew and mold would be prevented. HR February 1, 1874, par. 9

The idea that night air is unhealthful and must be excluded from our sleeping apartments, is a mistake. In the night God designed that we should breathe night air, for we have no other. Our Creator would not make night air dangerous to health and yet compel us to breathe it. Night air is as healthy for us to breathe in the night as day air is in the day. HR February 1, 1874, par. 10

I plead for fresh air in the night—fresh air during the day—in storm as well as in sunshine. It is certainly more pleasurable to have days of sunshine than those that are damp and foggy. But we must breathe in damp, unpleasant weather as well as in sunshine. We should labor to have the air in our houses pure as possible. Even during the rainy season of California, I shall plead for fresh air, and to be excused from sleeping in the spare bed. HR February 1, 1874, par. 11

Those who occupy the same beds every night near a fire cannot understand the dangers of that spare bed. If they think that there is needless fear of it, we propose that they take the spare bed, and let their visitors sleep in their beds, and thus test the matter. After they have tried this a few times, they may become enlightened in regard to the danger of that spare bed. HR February 1, 1874, par. 12

My mind goes back to Oak Hill Cemetery in Battle Creek, Michigan. I see there two graves. My noble first-born son fills the long grave. Next comes a short grave where lies my darling babe, my last-born. The first died of inflammation of the lungs after a sickness of eight days, in consequence of thoughtlessly resting his head upon a pile of damp charts and falling asleep. The second died from sleeping in a room that had not been used for two weeks. A fire was kept burning for two hours in this room which was thought sufficient to warm it. The bed had accumulated dampness. Myself and child took cold; he was a great sufferer for four weeks, and died in consequence of that damp bed. HR February 1, 1874, par. 13