The 13th Floor

Killer Cats and Iron Shackles: Weird Superstitions to Help You Sleep

Sleep wasn’t always the safe repose it is for most of us today. In earlier days, it was a time fraught with dangers both real and imagined. It was also a time when it wasn’t unheard of to go to bed healthy and wake up dead. Because of this, a lot of superstitions were developed to combat the dangers involved with sleeping. Here are five of those sleep superstitions.


Hang a Knife Over the Cradle

Here’s a “safe” one. If you’re looking to protect your newborn, toss out that annoying mobile and hang a sharp knife in its place. This extremely-not-recommended practice was commonplace in Scotland as a way to protect newborns from fairies. Yup, knife dangling precariously over your newborn was better than those pesky fairies.



Iron Bracelets

A lot of value has been placed on materials to help ward off evil. In many cultures, it was believed that iron could be used for protection from demons and witches.  Therefore, iron sleep bracelets (which were pretty much shackles) were considered the best way to protect you when you were at your most vulnerable.


Don’t Sleep Facing North

The belief that you should never sleep with your head facing north comes from the Hindu practice of placing the dead with their heads to the north and their feet to the south. This was also a way to keep from being thought dead and buried prematurely if you are a particularly sound sleeper or fall unconscious.


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Keep the Cat out of Your Bed

Here’s one that was tackled in the 1985 Stephen King film CAT’S EYE. Although the film offers an alternate theory to an old belief, for centuries it was believed that cats enjoyed sucking the life out of children while they slept. In some cultures it was believed that this was the reason that cats like to snooze on peoples’ chests and by their torsos. We now know cats are just dicks that want to sleep in a dominant position so they can swat our faces when the time is right.



Keep Your Hat Off the Bed

This is another sleep superstition that made its way on to the silver screen, getting a mention in Gus Van Sant’s 1989 flick DRUGSTORE COWBOY. However, this superstition dates back much further. Many ancient cultures held the belief that evil spirits lived in your hair. Therefore, putting your hat on the bed would transfer those spirits to wherever you slept. A guest putting a hat on another person’s bed was especially taboo. After all, no one wants someone else’s gross evil spirits all over their bed.


And a Bonus Superstition… Put a Cake Under Your  Pillow

In the 17th century, it was common practice for a woman to place a piece of wedding cake under her pillow in hopes that the husband of her dreams would find her. I’m not sure if that’s how you find a husband, but I know for a fact that’s how you get ants.