SLEEPLESSNESS (INSOMNIA).—Pains of various kinds, anxiety, short ness of breath—in fact, all physical and mental affections—may disturb sleep. Sleeplessness is a consequence of the prevalent ailment of civilised mankind, namely over-irritation and exhaustion of the nerves (neurasthenia). To ascertain the cause of the condition is the first step toward cure.
Sleep is so absolutely a necessity to the exhausted body, that a person tor mented by insomnia is tempted to make use of any remedy, without considera tion. Such patients should, therefore, be most emphatically cautioned against the use of narcotics, especially against such as contain opium. Sleep producing remedies should be taken only in accordance with a physician's directions.
Nervous sleeplessness affects principally the serfs of mental labour and the slaves of competition. It is rake that a manual toiler, a soldier in the field, or a servant-girl complains of insomnia. The best advice that can be given to persons thus affected, is, therefore, to induce bodily fatigue by working in the field or in the garden, by chopping wood, or by taking gymnastic exercises. Care should be taken, however, that the thing be not over-done.
There are a number of aids which may be employed in the fight with insomnia. A simple early supper, without strong tea or coffee, and with out alcoholic beverages, is at times advisable. The " nightcap " has caused many persons to become habitual drunkards, A person suffering from sleeplessness should avoid late hours (theatre or evening parties), exciting reading-matter, strong drinks, and games of chance. He should try to go to bed early and to rise early, to banish sleep in the morn ing, and force the body to fall asleep earlier in the evening. A walk of half an hour before retiring is advisable. If the patient lives in noisy sur roundings he may place cotton-pledgets, greased with vaseline, in his cars during night.
The bedroom should be dark and well ventilated, and the bed should be placed so that the patient's head looks away from the light. The pillows should be so arranged that the head rests horizontally or bent slightly backward. A warm sponge-bath of the entire body before retiring is often effective in inducing sleep. If this he not sufficient, a full body-bath of
95° to 104° F., lasting from 25 to 40 minutes (according to the physician's directions), may be taken. This is especially to be recommended for children who are very excitable.
A great many people arc unable to sleep owing to constant thinking. They ponder over their business affairs, their plans, their fancies, or their passions. If these persons were able to get rid of their exciting thoughts they Would fall asleep readily enough. These patients should take their troubles to a physician who has had experience in such psychic troubles. One should always remember the words of a celebrated Swiss physician : " Sleep is like a pigeon : should one attempt to catch it, it flies away ; but pay no attention to it, and the bird lights upon your shoulder." This is very often true. The harder one attempts to induce sleep by rules of breathing, of repeating things, of counting, etc., the more persistently does sleep keep away. Forget the fact that one is awake, and think of pleasant scenes, of hopeful prospects—build castles in Spain, if one will—and sleep suddenly descends.
SNAKE BITES.—Poisonous snakes cause the death of over 20,000 people a year in India ; and the tropics generally have more poisonous snakes than have the countries of temperate climates. In North America there are but few poisonous snakes, the vast majority of the snakes being harmless. In vipers, or members of the Crotalidie, America is \veil represented. The rattlesnakes are the chief poisonous snakes belonging to this group, there being at least seven of these in all.
Great Britain has only one poisonous snake, the common viper, which is frequently found in most parts of the country. It is readily distinguished from the common, or grass, snake by the presence of a zigzag black mark along the back, and by the absence of the yellow collar which characterises the harmless snake. Though its bite is followed by severe disturbances calling for the attention of the physician, it is rarely fatal except in the case of very young children or extremely debilitated adults.