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HOME > Science Fiction > The psychology of sleep > CHAPTER XIII THE SLEEP OF THE INVALID
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 Sleep, O gentle Sleep, Nature’s soft nurse—
We should not think that, because we are ill, it is natural that we should not sleep. The needs more and better sleep than the person—and the invalid can have it.
It is true that, as more and better sleep comes, the invalid will cease to be an invalid—at least that is the beginning of the end of . For Nature provides sleep as the “balm of hurt minds”—a cure for body or mind that needs restoring.
In the case of severe illness the physician in charge feels relieved when he learns that his patient is sleeping well. The professional idea of sleep is that nutrition goes on most during sleeping hours; that is, that Nature repairs all the waste that results from the use of brain and muscle during our waking hours. The more prolonged and undisturbed the sleep is, the more opportunity Nature has to make good the extra demands made upon the system by disease. It opens the way for the “Vis Medicatrix Naturæ”—the healing power of Life.
Take, for example, the fever patient. Anyone who has watched beside a loved one slowly consuming, with the fever raging in his blood, will remember the sigh of relief that has gone up from physician and nurse when the patient falls into a natural sleep after the turn of things. During dreadful nights and anxious days we wait breathlessly for the “crisis”; we hang upon the physician’s word, scan his face for every expression, because we may be deceived by the disease, but his practiced eye should know. But we do not need his assurance when the moaning and restlessness pass, when the breathing quiets, when the skin becomes moist, and the gentle, regular breathing tells us that natural sleep has come. If we can be spared, we go out under the stars and, whether or pagan, up from the depths of our souls wells a prayer of thankfulness to “whatever gods there be” for the incomparable of sleep. We feel as if we could “go softly all our days” before the powers who have decreed that sleep shall gently steep the of the one we love.
, in the form of food, is desirable, but more important still is the sleep when Nature busies herself building new tissue and64 blood to make good the of fever’s siege. We are careful to keep even good news from the patient, if we have cause to fear that it will prove too , and everything depressing............
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