Dr Neil Stanley Independent Sleep Expert
BACK I am not sure why Ekirch believes the following authors are “sceptics” and what he thinks they are being sceptical about about. Insomnia and Nervousness’, Good Housekeeping (Apr. 1892), 192.  Insomnia and Nervousness. There can be no doubt that many persons suffer from insomnia which had its origin, or at least its principal strength, in their own nervous apprehension that they are or are about to be afflicted with it. Any one of a dozen causes may induce wakefulness, and yet the person lying in bed with the faculties alert at the moment when they would naturally be expected to be wrapped in slumber has nine times out of ten, or ninety-nine times in a hundred, nothing serious to apprehend. The stomach may not be in quite its normal condition—and there is no more potent cause of wakefulness. Now an hour — ten minutes even — seems a long time in the middle of the night, when a person wishes to be sleeping and cannot. If a sensation of dread, of apprehension, is allowed to enter the mind, such a period simply becomes interminable. The nervous apprehension increases the difficulty, and feeding upon itself the derangement may quite possibly increase till it becomes a dangerous malady. The author of ‘Insomnia: Ways and Means of Overcoming this Great American Disease’ in the Bellingham Herald of 19 June 1909 wrote, ‘The national cry is ‘‘How can I get enough sleep?’’ . . . The idea takes possession of the would- be sleeper that he cannot get to sleep, that the power of sleeping has left him. This alone will prevent sleep’. Next to dyspepsia, the greatest the troubles which afflict Americans is insomnia. The national cry is, "How can I get enough sleep?" To answer this question, it is necessary in the first place to determine how much sleep" is necessary; and in the next place to find out the cause or causes which prevent it. The amount of sleep necessary varies with the individual. Some require more than others, and among such are nervous people. The length of time one sleeps depends upon habit. There are those who contend that the majority of people sleep too much, that they are rendered inert and stupid in consequence. The regulation amount of time to spend in sleep is generally set down as eight hours. Those who lead an active life in the midst of the whirl and excitement of the city require more sleep than those who spend their days in comparative tranquillity. Cause of lnsomnia The causes of insomnia are many. It may be that the room is not sufficiently ventilated. One cannot sleep in a room that is close or overheated. The superstition that night air is unhealthy is passing away, since it has been demonstrated that health has been restored, especially in lung troubles, by sleeping in the open air. One is often rendered sleepless when buried under too many bed-clothes. The head should not be too high; besides oftentimes preventing sleep, it makes one round-shouldered. Tea and coffee taken at night will often keep one awake. Tea and coffee in any great amount are bad for the nerves and the heart, and should not be indulged in too freely by anyone at any time. The digestion and food have much to do with insomnia. Everyone knows the wakefulness caused by over- eating or taking into the stomach before going to bed that which is rich and indigestible; if sleep itself is not banished, the slumber is disturbed by unpleasant dreams and nightmares. Sleeplessness may also be occasioned by hunger, which gives a gnawing sensation to the stomach. Worry and Anxiety The greatest disturbance to sleep is that occasioned by worry and anxiety. These and other states of mind result in an over-activity of the brain. The head no sooner touches the pillow than thoughts surge through the brain, chasing one another with relentless and maddening haste, torturing one to a wakefulness which it seems impossible to overcome. Simple Remedies First of all, sleep in a room with plenty of fresh air. Avoid tea and coffee, especially at night, and food that is rich and indigestible. I believe, however, that more insomnia, is occasioned by lack of food than by overeating. Many cases of insomnia have been cured by taking upon retiring a glass of milk and a biscuit, a slice of bread and butter, or some other light refreshment, such as has been found to agree with one. For the insomnia of brain activity, when the thoughts become uncontrollable in their persistence, it is well to get up and abandon attempting to sleep for a time. A hot bath is excellent for that kind of sleeplessness, as it helps to distribute the blood in the body. A footbath is also good for the same reason. A. simple and sometimes very effective remedy is a cold compress placed on the forehead, bringing the ends well, down behind the ears, where the-- large blood vessels which carry the "blood to the head are situated The cloth will keep cool Ionger and be more effective if some cologne is sprinkled upon it. The habit of wakefulness may have been acquired by some of the causes which have been mentioned, and the idea takes possession of the would-be sleeper that he cannot get to sleep, that the power of sleeping has left him. This alone will prevent sleep. It can be best met with a calm consideration of the subject It is not such a dreadful matter after all if one loses sleep. Regular and prolonged sleep is not so essential to health as is popularly supposed. The lack of sleep is not half as bad for the system as the worry that one indulges in because of it. It seems heartless and unsympathetic often to say this to a person melancholy because of lack of sleep. Keeping the mind Occupied The many devices of occupying the mind with trivial thoughts to the exclusion of those in which one is vitally interested, is founded on sound physiological  principles ; that is, the mind cannot think Intently on two things at once. The counting of Imaginary sheep going over an imaginary stile has been found useful. A very good way to tire out the mind and to change the current of thought at the same time, is to recall a pleasant journey that one has taken, and travel through again in imagination each hour and each moment of each hour, recalling every detail. In this way the brain is soon wearied to the sleeping point. The Use of Drugs Drugs are valuable in cases in which the power of sleep is lost and wakefulness has become a habit. No one should take drugs for sleep without the advice of a physician. Drug habits are worse than sleeplessness. The same causes which prevent sleep are often those which would easily lead the victim to dependence upon drugs. Morphine habits have thus been formed. Sulphonal and trional and allied drugs should should be avoided, as they act on the heart, and if long continued will cause disease of that organ. Drugs are useful to break up the habit of sleeplessness ; and in cases where, through long continued lack of sleep, the person has become weak and run down, then under the advice of a physician take the remedies which are thought suitable to the case. A cause of sleeplessness which has not been mentioned is poverty of the blood. " In such cases the patient needs iron and tonics and should take them. One of the best remedies for sleeplessness is electricity. The galvanic current is used; as that is more sedative than the faradic current. The faradic current is the one that makes the buzzing sound, and is the current given by the ordinary cheap batteries. That current is exciting and will not promote sleep. Electricity should be administered by one who has knowledge and practice. BACK
© Dr. Neil Stanley 2013-2018