A president’s rest is essential for them to perform their job – and each president that has lived in the White House has designed their bedroom to their specific needs and instructions. Some presidents are sleep snobs, while others try to sleep wherever and whenever they can. Curious about what kind of beds they slept on, or what it’s really like to sleep in Lincoln Bedroom? Wonder no more – simply wander back in time below to get a glimpse at how four former presidents really slept.
Curtains Were All The Rage
A four-poster bed with heavy curtains was the normal bed for our first few presidents to sleep on. Annie Coggan, associate professor of interior design at Pratt, told Saatva the curtains were mainly used for warmth during harsher winter months. If you walked into George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, or John Adam’s bedrooms, you would find a similar bed.
The Lincoln Bedroom
Our tallest president has a large bed named after him. Despite popular belief, President Abraham Lincoln has never slept in the Lincoln bedroom at the White House, but this hasn’t stopped other presidents from enjoying the room. The White House Historical Association has recorded Presidents Theodore Roosevelt, Woodroow Willson and Calvin Coolidge all using this bed as their own.
The bed is eight feet long and six feet wide, a large enough bed that could have suited Lincoln 6’4 stature. The bedroom is located on the second floor of the main residence and used to be Lincoln’s office and Cabinet room before the Oval Office existed. According to Furniture Today, the original mattress was approximately 127 years old and made with horsehair. It reportedly wasn’t replaced until guests told Barbara Bush that the mattress was lumpy.
William Bushong, the former Chief Historian for the White House Historical Association, told the erstwhile Van Winkle that President William Taft often slept on a sleeping porch he built on the roof of the White House in order to beat the heat during long summer months. “He’s the only president I know of that used it,” he said.
Taft was the 27th president and had a reputation of nodding off every once in a while. Historians and medical professionals have since speculated that Taft’s continued sleepiness could be the product of a few sleeping disorders, including sleep apnea.
If you’ve watched The Crown, the idea of separate bedrooms might not be that much of a shock to you. It was common for early presidents to have separate bedrooms from their spouses. First lady scholar Annette Dunlap told PEOPLE that President Richard Nixon was one of the last presidents to have separate bedrooms (what we often refer to now as “sleep divorce“).
Pictured is First Lady Jackie Kennedy’s room. Mrs. Kennedy’s room was outfitted with two twin sized beds pushed together- a good setup for the Scandinavian sleeping method. First lady expert Kate Andersen Brower also explained to PEOPLE, “there were great stories about Jackie Kennedy running into her husband’s bedroom or him back to her bedroom.”