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Unformatted text preview: , ventilation and even the side of the body he shall lie on, and that a change
in these preliminary matters is often attended by insomnia. Moreover, a change from the habitual in the
general conduct of life--a new city or town, a strange bed, a disturbance in the moods and emotions--may
upset the sleep capacity. Those in whom excitement persists, or whose emotions are persistent, become easily CHAPTER III. 29 burdened with the dreaded insomnia. Sleep is dependent on an exclusion of excitement and exciting
influences. If, however, exciting influences become habitual they lose their power over the organism and then
the individual can sleep on a battle field, in a boiler factory, or almost anywhere. Conversely, many a New
Yorker is lulled to sleep by the roar of the great city who, finds that the quiet of the country keeps him awake.
 As good a book as any on the subject of sleep is Boris Sidis's little monograph.
Sleeplessness often enough is a habit. Something happens to a man that deeply stirs him, as an insult, or a
falling out with a friend, or the loss of money,--something which disturbs what we call his poise or peace of
mind. He becomes sleepless because, when he goes to bed and the shock-absorbing objects of daily interest
are removed, his thoughts revert back to his difficulty; he becomes again humiliated or grieved or thrown into
an emotional turmoil that prevents sleep. After the first night of insomnia a new factor enters,--the fear of
sleeplessness and the conviction that one will not sleep. After a time the insult has lost its sting, or the
difficulty has been adjusted, there is no more emotional distress, but there is the established sleeplessness,
based on habitual emotional reaction to sleep. I know one lady whose fear reached the stage where she could
not even bear the thought of night and darkness. It is in these cases that a powerful drug used two or three
nights in succession breaks up the sleepless habit and reestablishes the power to sleep.
People differ in their capacity to form habits and in their love of habits. The normal habits, thoroughness,
neatness and method come easily to some and are never really acquired by others. People of an impetuous,
explosive or reckless characte...
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- Spring '11