Snow White
Courtesy of from a 1913 version of Snow White.

Sleeplessness seems to be a reality in our modern culture. Everyone has their own sleep patterns and what is normal for one person is not normal for another. One of the more modern culprits for lack of sleep is probably our smart phones. I find myself being guilty of checking facebook before I go to bed and I have to make a conscious effort to set the alarm and set the phone down. Having said that, it’s ironic that one of the best ways I’ve found to help break from the day’s issues and worries is using a breathing app on my phone. There are several out there but the one that I’ve had luck with is Universal Breathing – Pranayama, by Saagara. The version I downloaded was several years ago and free at the time. The new app (which looks similar but that I haven’t tried) is $4.99. What was once old is new again. Just remember this when you get to number 7 on the list below.

The other tried and true method I find is reading a good book. Preferably not a book about zombies or pandemics. I tend to stick with history books at bedtime.

I found these tips in “The Household Guide; or, Home Remedies and Home Treatment for All Diseases in Man or Beast. A Manual of Domestic Information for All Classes, and A Complete Encyclopedia of Family Receipts and Celebrated Prescriptions,” by E.B. Davis, M.D., and Prof. B.G. Jeffers, M.D., Ph.D. 2nd Edition. 1891. Admittedly, that’s one of the longest titles that I’ve come across so far. This is the second time in my research that I’ve heard it advised to sleep with your head lying to the North. Coincidentally, that’s how my room is positioned at home. I’ll have to check the compass on my phone (I know – checking the phone at bedtime again) the next time that I’m at a hotel to see if there is any validity to this. I would love to know what “electrical effects” are being referenced but we’ll save that for another entry.

Many suffer from nervousness and a want of sleep. Many remedies have been given, but few have proven successful. The following are some of the best household remedies known.

  1. A bath, taken just before retiring, is highly recommended. If this is not satisfactory wash the face, neck and hands in cold water, and then retire and keep the mind quiet.
  2. If the trouble is a want of sleep after the first nap, get up and walk around the room two or three times. With some this is a sure remedy.
  3. Lie with the head to the North, for there is no doubt something in the electrical effects of the earth upon the body when in that position.
  4. Bad sleepers should always rise early and retire early, and they should never take a nap during the day.
  5. Sleepless persons should avoid exciting conversation or reading, hard study, or any kind of mental excitement during the evening.
  6. Tea and coffee should never be drank for supper.
  7. When lying in bed, first draw in the breath slowly, letting it out suddenly, then draw it in suddenly and let it pass slowly out a number of times alternately. This is highly recommended.
  8. A cup of hot water taken just before retiring will often produce the desired results.
  9. Nervous and sleepless persons are often benefited by sleeping on a pillow of hops.
  10. In case of nervous irritability a warm foot-bath will often produce sleep.
  11. A brisk walk in the open air just before retiring will often affect a perfect cure.

You’ll notice I left off number 11. That’s because it promoted a substance no longer recommended by the F.D.A. (It’s a self preservation thing.)

So here’s to a restful night. Hopefully you’re not reading this in bed.