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HOME > Science Fiction > The psychology of sleep > CHAPTER IX SIMPLE CAUSES OF WAKEFULNESS
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 Where care , sleep will never lie. Shakespeare.
We all know the of sleep, but it is hard to show the sufferer that wakefulness is useful.
Wakefulness always has some cause, and, if we truly wish to be cured of it, it will be well to seek the cause rather than to at the wakefulness itself. It is not enough to know what is the matter, we must find out why it is the matter. To find the cause of any condition simplifies matters; it makes the course we must follow clearer. If the cause can be removed, we should bend all our energies to removing it; to Stephen Pearl Andrews’ saying—we are not to be subject to circumstances, but rather to make ourselves center-stances. But, if the matter be something over which we have no control, there are two courses open to us: the first is to accept the condition and adapt ourselves to it; the second is to devise some method by which we may gain control over it.
A childish story will this:
Once there was a squirrel that did not like its home, and it used to scold and find fault with everything. Its papa squirrel had long gray whiskers, so he was wise. He said to the squirrel: “My dear, as you do not like your home, there are three sensible things you could do:
Leave it,
or Change it,
or Suit yourself to it.
Any one of these would help you in your trouble.” But the little squirrel said, “Oh! I do not want to do any of those; I had rather sit on the branch of a tree and scold.” “Well,” said the papa squirrel, “if you must do that, whenever you want to scold, just go out on a branch and scold away at someone you do not know.” The little squirrel blushed so much that he became a red squirrel, and you will notice that to this day red squirrels do just that thing.
Whatever course we pursue, we find something to do in connection with the principle or cause; this doing prevents us from wasting energy and patience upon effects. That is an advantage, for any action relieves mental pain, and often relieves physical pain, too. The victim not only in its effort to escape, but in the effort to express its feeling, to respond to the excited nerves, just as we dance about or up and down when we hit our finger with the hammer. We often hear people that their suffering is increased because they can do nothing to remedy the trouble. We frequently exclaim, “It would be easier to bear, if only I could do something.” A knowledge of what to do and how to do it always helps toward peace of mind.
When yellow fever was one of the “mysterious dispensations of Providence,” men of science fought only its symptoms, with very indifferent success. The people in the district where the fever broke out were panic-stricken; those who could fled from the place; those who were compelled to remain went about in fear of their lives. Now that we believe that the bite of an infected mosquito is the once “mysterious dispensation,” we no longer allow the infection to spread. Fear and unreason might have continued to treat outbreaks and of yellow fever for centuries to come without advantage to the plague-ridden spots, but the knowledge of what to do and how to do it has made yellow fever a preventable evil. It has no terrors for an intelligent community.
So with wakefulness. If we find ourselves wakeful when we should be sleeping, the first thing to do is to find the reason.
Sometimes we cause our own unsuspectingly, but none the less ,43 by the false requirements that we lay upon ourselves. People often say, “I could not go to sleep in a room like that.” If there is time and opportunity to put the room in order, why do it; but, if not, we can resolve, as the boys say, to “forget it.” Many a woman and disturbs herself continually by putting things in what she considers order, which things are no better for being rearranged and which generally cannot stay in order—endless pushing in of chairs and placing pamphlets or books with the little ones on top and the big ones at the bottom; a constant and wearisome struggle to keep all the shades in the house in a line. The of Sisyphus, who had forever to roll a great stone up a sand hill, would be restful compared with that. I knew a man once who would be upset, and would upset all the people about him, if his stockings that came from the wash were not placed below those in the drawer so that ............
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