This odd little jumbled collection of anecdotes and urban legends does indeed include a number of “Curiosities of Sleep,” from the supposed effect of moonlight on the mind to what appears to be a brief description of narcolepsy. While Woodworth’s Youth’s Cabinet attempted to present information to its young readers, the effect here is … less than scientific.


http://www.merrycoz.org/cabinet/SLEEP.xhtml
“Curiosities Of Sleep” (from Woodworth’s Youth’s Cabinet, April 1854, pp. 178-179)

In Turkey, if a person happens to fall asleep in the neighborhood of a poppy-field, and the wind blows over towards him, he becomes gradually narcotized, and would die, if the country people, who are well acquainted with the circumstance, did not bring him to the next well or stream, and empty pitcher after pitcher on his face and body. Dr. Oppenheim, during his residence in Turkey, owed his life to this simple and efficacious treatment. Dr. Graves, from whom this anecdote is quoted, also reports the case of a gentleman, thirty years of age, who, from long-continued sleepiness, was reduced to a complete living skeleton, unable to stand on his legs. It was partly owing to disease, but chiefly to the abuse of mercury and opium, until at last, unable to pursue his business, he sank into abject poverty and woe. Dr. Reid mentions a friend of his who, whenever anything occurred to distress him, soon became drowsy and fell asleep. A fellow-student, also, at Edinburgh, upon hearing suddenly the unexpected death of a near relative, threw himself on his bed, and almost instantaneously, amid the glare of noon-day, sunk into a profound slumber. Another person, reading aloud to one of his dearest friends stretched on his death-bed, fell fast asleep, and with the book still in his hand, went on reading, utterly unconscious of what he was uttering. A woman at Hainault slept seventeen or eighteen hours a day for fifteen years. Another is recorded to have slept once for four days. Dr. Macnish mentions a woman who spent three-fourths of her life in sleep, and Dr. Elliotson quotes the case of a young lady who slept for six weeks and recovered. The venerable St. Augustine, of Hippo, prudently divided his hours into three parts, eight to be devoted to sleep, eight to recreation, and eight to converse with the world.

Maniacs are reported, particularly in the Eastern hemisphere, to become furiously vigilant during the full of the moon, more espe-

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p. 179

cially when the deteriorating rays of its polarized light is permitted to fall into their apartment; hence the name lunatics. There certainly is a greater proneness to disease during sleep than in the waking state; for those who pass the night in the Campagna di Roma, inevitably become infected with its noxious air, while travelers who go through without stopping, escape the miasma. Intense cold induces sleep, and those who perish in the snow, sleep on till they sleep the sleep of death.

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