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Scaling Skin

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SKIN, SCALING OF.—The skin is constantly being renewed, the outer layer being gradually cast off in the form of scales. Under normal condi tions this scaling process may be observed only on the arms and legs, and then, as a rule, only when the skin has been insufficiently cleansed. After an inflammatory or eruptive affection of the skin, a more rapid renewal of the epidermis takes place, either as soon as the inflammation has subsided, or during the stage of eruption. This process usually includes the entire body, and may occur in the form of fine, branny scales, as in measles, or large flakes, as in scarlet fever. Dandruff is characterised by the formation of a scurf which comes off in fine scales. In scaly tetter, or psoriasis, the desquamated material is thrown off in the form of large, adherent scales. Another variety of scales consists of dried hits of epidermis mixed with the fatty secretions from the skin. These may be small or large, in the latter case forming fatty masses of a dirty grey colour. It must not be forgotten that the desquamation which occurs during or after a contagious disease is liable to disseminate the infection.

SLEEP.—The brain, the organ of the mind, rests during sleep. Mental activity, however, is not entirely suspended, as is frequently assumed, but is merely greatly diminished. Even persons who are profoundly asleep re main susceptible to external effects ; if this were not the case, they could not be awakened. Nor has it as yet been fully established whether or not an absolutely dreamless sleep can occur. An individual aroused from a sound slumber may recall parts of a dream ; and in cases where one believes his sleep to have been dreamless it may be due simply to his having forgotten the dream. See DREAm.

The causes of sleep are not fully understood. Many investigators believe that some metabolic secretion is conveyed to the brain by the blood current, acting as a narcotic upon that organ. Others regard a deficiency of oxygen as the cause, believing that a period of rest is necessary in orde to accumulate a new supply of oxygen to compensate for the greater amount expended during the waking hours. Experiments on animals arc believed by some to have demonstrated that the delicate terminations of the cerebral nerve-cells are retracted during sleep, thus interrupting the connections between the cells, and thereby impeding the normal course of thought-activity. This fantastic neuron-retraction hypothesis, however, is not seriously considered by thinking men. The general opinion, that sleep is the natural outcome of fatigue, is not always correct. A person may fall asleep without being either bodily or mentally fatigued ; and, on the other hand, great exhaustion may render one sleepless. It is possible also to overcome sleepiness in

spite of great exhaustion. Finally, sleep itself causes drowsiness, as every one has experienced on awaking in the morning.

Sleep is induced by the absence of external sense impressions. The stillness of the night, the darkness, and the reposeful position of the body are all conducive to sleep. Monotonous sounds—such as the ticking of a clock, the rippling of a brook, or a tedious sermon—have the same effect, To cultivate the habit of going to bed every night at a fixed hour is advisable.

An empty stomach may prevent sleep as effectually as an over-filled one. Hence the customary advice, to go to bed on an empty stomach, requires modification. Sleep is most profound during the first few hours ; it then becomes gradually lighter, and, for several hours before awaking, it remains almost uniformly light.

The conditions of sleep and wakefulness cannot always be sharply demarcated from one another. When a person is half asleep, the images of his dream combine with actual sense impressions, thus falsifying reality. The state of being sleep-drunk is an illustration of this. Sleep-drunken ness is a condition following very heavy slumber. The person does not awake rapidly, but is roused only gradually and imperfectly. He is, there fore, apt to confuse the pictures of his dream with his actual surroundings, and may even commit deeds of violence against his friends because he con founds them with his dreamy visions. Such occurrences, however, are very rare in healthy individuals. Sleep-drunkenness is a term which may more properly be applied to a form of automatism occurring in epilepsy, in which partial consciousness is present. A different condition is that known as NIGHTMARE, which is in nowise related to epilepsy. As to sleep-walking, See DREAM.

Regarding the hygiene of sleep, it is advisable to have a large and airy bedroom, and to sleep with the windows open, especially in summer. The " harmfulness " of night-air is imaginary. During winter more caution is necessary. It is not advisable to sleep in an ice-cold room ; and, when the temperature of the bedroom gets below 35° F., it is best to heat it. Regarding the proper condition of the bed, see the article on BED. Adults require about seven hours sleep daily ; children up to four years of age, twelve hours ; children between four and twelve years old, nine hours ; young people, eight hours. Sleeping in the middle of the day is unnecessary for healthy adults, and may even be harmful.