Dr Neil Stanley Independent Sleep Expert
BACK ‘Sleeplessness’, Sheffield Independent, 5 Sept. 1885. (The newspaper is actually called The Sheffield & Rotherham Independent It is of the greatest importance to remember that sleeplessness is only a symptom - a forewarning that some one or more of nature’s physical laws have been violated. It then becomes a matter of the first importance to discover the cause. The old aphorism, “Remove the cause and the effect will cease” is especially true in this connection. The special disease of modern life is worry. The special result of worry is sleeplessness, Sleeplessness from this cause is probably the most difficult to treat, because its cause is the most difficult to remove. The only effectual method of treatment, under such circumstances, is a spare diet of such food as will not tend to the production of acidity and flatulence - green vegetables, soups, teas, and beer in excess, are especially to be avoided. Dinner should be taken at one or two o’clock in the afternoon. A light supper is usually advisable; it should be taken an hour an a half to two hours before going to bed. Tea and coffee should be avoided in the after part of the day. The bedroom should be quiet and well-ventilated, without being draughty. The bed should consist of a mattress, and there should not be too many blankets over it. It is a matter of utmost importance that plenty of outdoor exercise be taken during the day. In cases of this kind an invaluable agent for procuring sleep is a moderately warm bath taken immediately before retiring to rest. By this means a more equable blood pressure becomes established, promoting a decrease in the heart’s action, and relaxation of the blood vessels. A sharp walk of about 20 minutes duration before going to bed is often very serviceable. In those cases of sleeplessness characterised by hotness of the head and coldness of the feet, a cold compress applied above the eyes, and a hot water bottle to the feet, will often prove the means of procuring sound, refreshing sleep; or the feet may be plunged into cold water immediately before bed and then rubbed with a rough towel until they glow. Again sleepiness is often due to a disordered stomach. No food should be taken within at least an hour of bedtime. It cannot be too generally realised that the presence of undigested food in the stomach is one of the most prevailing causes of sleeplessness. Persons suffering from either functional or organic diseases are particularly liable to sleeplessness. When insomnia persists, and cannot be referred to any perverted mode of life or nutrition, there is generally good reason for surmising that some malady lurking in the system is the cause of the depressing condition. In such a case, it is of the first importance that  a medical man be consulted early. When sleeplessness seems to be due to mere debility a “nightcap” of whiskey and water; wine and water, or negus, is often of great value. A pipe of mild tobacco at the same time also often does good. In those cases of sleeplessness in which “heartburn” is complained of, and in which the skin gets hot and dry, half a tumblerful of soda-water on going to bed will prove advantageous. Of late years the dangerous and lamentable habit of taking sleeping draughts has unfortunately become more prevalent, entailing misery and ill health to a terrible degree. Most persons addicted to the practice of taking these draughts are of the opinion that it is better to procure sleep at any cost than to lie awake. A greater mistake could scarcely be made. The popular hypnotics seen to be chloral, and the opiates such as laudanum, chlorodyne, and morphia. All opiates occasion more or less mischief, and even the state of stupification induced by them utterly fails to bring about the revitalisation which results from natural sleep. The physiological effects of sleeping draughts upon the system are much the same as those of excessive indulgence in intoxicating liquors. The nerve centres are paralysed, the stomach disordered, vomiting and lose of appetite common. Then all these sleep producers have life-destroying properties in a low degree- an over-dose often proving fatal. The state they produce is not sleep, but a counterfeit condition of unconsciousness. Chloral, above all other sleep producers, is popularly supposed to procure a quiet night’s rest without any of the disagreeable after-effects - headache, languor, sickness- produced by an opiate draught. Now chloral is cumulative in its action - that is, if the same dose is persistently taken night after night, for a certain time, death may ensue. Of all the hypnotics chloral is the most deadly, and shoud never under any circumstances, be taken, except under medical supervision. In conclusion, let me reiterate that sleeplessness should never be neglected, as it acts disastrously both on the mental and physical forces. Its rational cure should be arrived at in each individual case by seeking out the causes, and then removing the morbid action, of which it is but a natural sequence. Above all things, avoid narcotics. While indeed containing the phrase mentioned by Ekirch, this passage actually list a number of causes of sleeplessness. BACK
© Dr. Neil Stanley 2013-2018