Dr Neil Stanley Independent Sleep Expert
BACK Wirsung, Praxis Medicinae Universalis, 618; here “Yet thefe be the things which prouoke fleepe. viz. Consferues of water Lillies, fyrupe of Poppy heads, which may be ufed for this purpofe: Lettice eaten in teh evening for Sallads is alfo good:The Conferue of Pyony ftayeth all fantafies and feare by night, which will hinder men of their fleepe: Sirupe of Citrons, Wormewood wine, oyle of Dill, oyle of Poppy heads, and alfo that which is beaten out of the heads, and the temples of the head annoynted therwith, are very meete for it.” Note that “syrupe of Poppy heads” is merely something to “prouoke fleepe”, coronary to what Ekirch claims this passage has nothing to do with anxiety. November 1, 1695, The Life and Times of Anthony Wood, Antiquary, of Oxford, 1632–1695 . . . , Andrew Clark, comp., 5 vols. (Oxford, 1891–1900), 5: The relevant quote is actually in Volume 3 not Volume 5 as Ekirch states here. Contrary to what Ekirch claims this passage has nothing to do with anxiety but concerns vomiting. “So at one of the clock I went to Bayworth ; and returning exceeding weary, I went to bed at 8 of the clock. But between 1 and 2 the next (morning), after I had slept four houres, I fell to vomiting, and was very uneazie for 3 houres. At length drinking a spoonfull or two of cherry brandy, it put me into a sleep, and sleep I did about three or four houres. About 10 I rose and was hungry;” October 3, 1704, Cowper Diary;  Cowper actually states that she does not use laudanum to help her sleep “I need somewhat to make me sleep after these vexable things yet neither cares or fears have reduced me to such remedys” Although she does write of a Duchess who every night takes 150 drops of laudanum “to quiet the anguish she yet lives in” The Diary of Sylas Neville, 1767–1788, Basil Cozens-Hardy, ed. (London, 1950). The passage on page 113 would seem to suggest that the opiate was taken because of pain not anxiety as Ekirch claims Have had a very bad night, slept none; pain in the night & want of sleep particularly distressing to me. Took an opiate before I went to bed & Baume de vie 3 times during the night without effect, which makes me very uneasy, as I trusted much to the efficacy of that medicine The quotes on page 191 Have been better and have slept without an opiate these 2 or 3 nights and page 230 Had a pretty good night, but after an opiate do not in fact give a reason for taking the opiate and thus there is no reason to suggest that it was taken for anxiety as Ekirch claims January 7, 1782, Boswell: Laird of Auchinleck, 1778–1782, Joseph W. Reed and Frederick A. Pottle, eds. (New York, 1977), 418. Boswell is actually talking talking his wife’s illness, which started on 30th December 1791, he describes her as follows She has no spitting of blood. But had a severe hollow cough in the night-time, unless when quieted by laudanum, and sweatings every night So while it may be possible that she is anxious due to her illness it is also equally possible that this passage has nothing to do with anxiety. On 24th April 1779 Boswell writes that After eight hours sleep, awaked gloomy and relaxed Note this passage clearly describes consolidated, not segmented, sleep despite the fact that Ekirch contends that “Until the close of the early modern era, Western Europeans on most evenings experienced two major intervals of sleep bridged by up to an hour or more of quiet wakefulness.” BACK
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