29 APRIL 1899, Page 32


[TO THE EDITOR OF TxrE userarkroR.1 Sra,—Sleep is a mental state or stage of the mind in the daily sequence of events, and generally attained without any effort or extraneous aid. The physician in relieving insomnolence prescribes narcotics, anodynes, sedatives, or stimulants, medi- cines in themselves dissimilar or even opposite, according to the various varying needs of his patients, needs differing in different constitutions and different disease in their different stages, and even of the same patient in the same state of the disease, but under different surroundings thus tacitly proving that the practical physician acknowledges that the difference between the insomnolent state and sleep or the distance between them is not a certain quantity, to be rectified by a certain remedy, or that the distance between the insomnolent stage and sleep, can be bridged over, by a known length of cable, but like a skilful mariner making for the port of sleep suits his canvas to the wind. As like in the insom- nolence of acute diseases, the treatment vaties in chronic insomnia, except that here, one plan of treatment might do service for a lifetime, but to suggest any one method as suit- able to all cases must result in disappointment to many acting on the advice. The method suggested by "A Physician" might suit some cases, though "Another Physician " ridicules it on theoretical grounds, but a concentrated train of thought can- not be prolonged indefinitely, like the straight line of Euclid. Either through want of fuel or intrinsic exhaustion the train imperceptibly slackens into a stop, that is oblivion, which is sleep. I am an Indian physician. I first adopted sleeping in this country to kill time, and during the last six years have slept from eighteen to twenty hours a day on an average for a hundred days in a year, and under varied conditions of mind and body and of immediate surroundings. I never had to use any drug to procure or lengthen sleep, but by following certain methods I have always dropped asleep when I so wished it, sometimes, of course, after some perseverance in the method adopted for the occasion, and in the earlier days by a change