Dr Neil Stanley Independent Sleep Expert
BACK A. Symons Eccles, ‘Sleeplessness’, National Review (Aug. 1894), 798. here    It is not necessary to quote statistics, if they were available, in support of the fact, probably within the knowledge of all, that sleeplessness is one of the commonest complaints of the present day, and employing the term in its widest sense to embrace defects in the quantity and the quality of sleep, it may be alleged that by far the greater number of sufferers from insomnia could trace the initial disturbance of the sleep function to the prolongation of mental strain or bodily fatigue, induced by over-activity in the pursuit of business or pleasure, interfering with the proper rhythm of rest and work. Further down page 798 he writes An interesting fact in regard to the quality of sleep in almost all healthy individuals may here be cited, as it has a distinct bearing upon the disturbance of the sleep function in many cases of insomnia. At first sleep is much heavier than in the later hours of rest. For one or two hours the somnolence increases rapidly in depth, then gradually becomes lighter towards the usual hour for waking. This condition is emphasized in certain cases of sleeplessness, the sufferers from partial insomnia often complaining that sleep is obtained for one or two hours, but that it is followed after this short period by absolute wakefulness, not infrequently accompanied by intolerable restlessness. The passage refereed to by Ekirch actually appears on page 804 and is clear linked to the passage above, in this context it is clear that this is not “unthinking obedience to the past usage” but a perfectly scientific explanation of an observed phenomena It has already been noted that sleep is at first heavy and gradually becomes lighter as the usual hour of waking is approached. Now in some cases of insomnia refreshing sleep is obtained for a brief period, which is followed by most wearisome wakefulness. This condition may sometimes be overcome by taking a light meal after the first sleep, the blood supply being drawn from the brain to the belly, and at the same time the blood itself is replenished by substances formed in the process of digestion, which have a soporific effect: that this is probably the case is illustrated by the case with which animals and some human beings fall asleep after a heavy meal. BACK
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