–Healthy persons fall asleep as soon as they go to bed, and wake up when they have had sufficient. They should get up then, because it is just as easy to take too much sleep as too little. In the matter of the right amount of sleep every person is a law to himself. For the majority of men seven hours is enough. Most women require more. The reason of this is not obvious; but the fact that their mode of dressing is different from that of men, and limits the movements of the chest and body more, may have something to do with it.
At night all hindrances to proper chest movements are removed, and the want of this freedom during the day may render longer hours of rest and relaxation necessary. Healthy person who go to bed at ten or eleven should rise at six or seven at the latest. They can generally wake at that hour. Drowsiness during the day in youths is a sign of feebleness, and ought to be medically treated. In those who are not very strong it is not a bad thing, and a short nap after meals, or even before meals, will do them good.
Sleeplessness is more frequently complained of than the opposite condition. It is an accompaniment of many diseases, and it may constitute a disease in itself. It may arise from eating too much in the evening or not eating enough, or it may arise from drinking coffee or tea. Excitement, over-exertion, or mental or emotional shocks may cause it. When the cause can be found it will be necessary to remove it.
General Treatment.–Let the feet be kept warm, and, if necessary, by a hot bottle placed in the bed. Let there be some nourishment,as biscuits, milk, blancmange, or jelly, of which the patient, if sleepless, may take one or two spoonfuls from time to time. The old-fashioned plan of counting an imaginary interminable flock of sheep as they jump, one by one, through a gap in a hedge, may be tried.
Medicines.–(A dose to be taken just before getting into bed, and repeated in half an hour if necessary.)
–When there is much restlessness, anxiety, or feverishness. After agitating events.
–In old people; various figures and visions appear before the eyes and prevent sleeping.
–After exciting and agreeable events; useful for children.
–Thoughts of the day’s doings; from tormenting events, and such as cause dejection.
–Connected with bowel complaints and flatulency.
–When following surfeit.
–After late reading or singing.
–An ordinary camphor pilule taken once or twice in the night will often induce sleep.