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All kinds of remedies have been suggested for sleeplessness-opium, henbane, chlorodyne, strychnia, prussic acid, aconite, etc. A lady, who had suffered fearfully this way, wrote to me some time ago to say that she had derived great benefit from sleeping with her head to the north. This seems to be absurd, and there is nothing in our present limited knowledge of electricity which appears to countenance it.
I only give it as an observed fact in this particular instance. Another sufferer tells me that great benefit has been derived from taking a glass of sherry and a sandwich immediately before going to bed. The reason of this is perfectly intelligible. According to the late modern dinner-hour the somnolent effect of food has passed off, and the excitant effect has set in just about bedtime. To those who suffer this way I would strongly recommend the canon pursued by the great statesman, Mr. Windham, as described by him in the Diary published a few years ago. He most accurately noted and recorded every particular that might bear any relation to his want of sleep, and justifies his apparently trivial and uninteresting entries by the great importance of the subject. By this method a man may be able to find out for himself the right diagnosis and the right treatment. A few general particulars should be noted. The use of opiates, except on rare occasions or in special instances, should be avoided. The correct dietary system should be discovered and
receive careful adherence. The simplest and best remedies are abundance of exercise and air. What a wonderful compensation for many losses is that sound, dreamless, invigorating sleep which the labourer almost invariably enjoys! A balance between mental and bodily exertion ought to be maintained. Scholars and thinkers may often sleep badly, but I know, too, clever lazy fellows, who, with plenty of fresh air, are unable to sleep, simply because they have not given their brains sufficient exercise. Dreaming is an intensely interesting portion of the subject. It will be recollected that Coleridge wrote down his fine poem of • Kubla Khan' from his recollection of what he had composed in a dream—a most peculiar psychological fact. I myself remember composing a few Latin verses in a dream, which I was able to recall on waking, but to my great disgust they were very feeble lines, and contained one or more false quantities. Scientifically speaking, it appears probable that dreaming is nothing more than a wakefulness of one portion of a nervous centre while the other portions and the other centres are in a state of sleep. Thus, through the transformation of one region of brain substance, particular feelings and certain orders of ideas may be called into active life while all remaining feelings and ideas are asleep, and so no process of comparison or reflection can be exercised by that part of the brain which is sleeping over that which is wakeful. The subject, however, is too large for discussion now. I will only add that moral considerations are by no means wanting in such a subject, and that there are no better disposing agencies towards light, gentle, healthful slumbers than simple tastes, a purified conscience, and a balanced harmonious life.
the Overmorked Brain.
biographer of Hugh Miller told the tragic story of the suicide of his hero. The poor man died of an
. overwrought brain. He became highly nervous, after the fashion of a nervous, frightened child. He was afraid of robbers; he was afraid of witches. He kept swords and revolvers with him, in case burglars should try to rob his museum. He thought that he had been driven through fifty miles on the night-wind by a hag. He felt a pain, as of a dagger piercing through his brain. One night he shot himself through the chest. It is a sad story that is now revived. We believe that stories equally as sad, or more so, could be told of various eminent men of the present day. They are as much self-slain by overwork as if, like Hugh Miller, they had shot themselves. That delicate, subtle brain, that loves hard work and plenty of it, and which, braced with work, will energise all the vital functions, desires rest and change, and will not work without resentment beyond a certain point.
You may spur it, and it will obey the spur; overwork it and it will yield all the work it can; but when it has exerted all its energies to the utmost, it can do no more. It will fail you, will cease and determine. There are men whose powers of work have seemed prodigious, gluttons of work, crowding their lives with head-work, and who surely and prematurely exhaust the soil; and when some slight indisposition arises, which a healthy constitution would throw off at once, succumb and flicker out like a spark. That wonderful double brain, the grey matter of many folds, which causes all feeling and is yet utterly insensitive, which you can cut, cauterise, electrify, and it feels no pain, and of which man can take parts away and it will yet work unimpaired, is, after all, not mind, but the servant of mind. You can alter the very shape of brain by a resolute course of action. Perhaps most women, after marriage, show a marked change in the configuration of brain. We consent to be governed by the brain ; but the will of our secret individuality is something higher and something different. The spade is not the workman; the organ is not the musician. As Mr. Hinton thoughtfully says: “The brain is not constructed for a world that demands incessant work and worry; it rejects that view of it and of our life with an emphatic negative. The world for which it was designed was one on which thought might rest in