Sleep Fictions: A Digital Companion


In “World Rousers,” Gilman writes: “This is not the natural sleep of health which holds us. We are drugged, drugged these ages past, our brains dulled and clouded, our nerves relaxed, our muscles weak, our eyes unable to open. It is like trying a rescue one poisoned with laudanum; the patient must be kept walking, walking—must be made to move.”
In his 1915 treatise Sleep and Sleeplessness,* Bruce Addington matches the evolutionary and environment implications of a society addicted to sleep aids: 
"Our present . . . appreciation of the formative influence of the most trivial details in one's environment, and of the possibility of adjusting the environment in such a way as to make unfailingly for physical, mental, and moral upbuilding; our fuller comprehension of the principles that underlie and give validity to scientific 'psychotherapy,' or healing by suggestion, of which the medical fraternity is beginning to make systematic and effective use all this has been largely due to recent psychological study of the phenomena that occur either in ordinary, "natural" sleep, or in those allied sleeping states induced by drugs or hypnotic procedures. Naturally enough, from studying the phenomena of sleep, the investigators have been led to study sleep itself, with results which, if they do not altogether dispel its mystery, have at least afforded clearer insight than ever before into its nature, significance, and causal conditions matters of considerable practical as well as theoretical importance, particularly in this age of stress and strain with its imperative demand for the most efficient utilization of human resources, and its equally inexorable tax on the human organism.


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