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( Originally Published Mid 1800s )
Sleeping is one of the most important functions of life, it is necessary to know how to prepare for it, and how, if possible, to maintain a healthful and comfortable position during the hours of repose.
Altogether too little time is given to rest. The majority of people are workers. They toil from six to ten hours daily, and are not content to make their play time short. Instead of eight hours sleep, recommended by the laws of health, they seldom get more than five or six. This of course quickly destroys both health and vigor, especially of women. Somehow, lack of sleep affects a woman's looks more quickly than a man's.
Sleeping rooms, too, are often unsuited for the purpose to which they are put. There are any number of girls and women who, having but one room to themselves, are anxious to make that room do duty for several. They convert a couch into a bed. They surround it with draperies that soon become dust laden, and they pile it with silk and cretonne-covered cushions, which are used daily but seldom cleaned. All this they prefer to a clean white bed. The walls of this room are hung with innumerable gewgaws, which they suppose are artistic, but which only succeed in being unhygienic. If one hope for the best health, she must make some sacrifices; and after all, it pays in the end.
The Japanese would never think of sleeping in a furnished room. In their sleeping apartments there is nothing more than a roll of matting which constitutes a bed. Americans would do well to follow the hardy little Oriental in this respect.
The most hygienic night robe is a cotton one. If possible, wear it also in winter in preference to a heavy flannel one. Never tuck it under the pillow during the day. It should be first thoroughly aired, then hung in the closet.
The best way to arrange one's hair in the night, is to plait it. It should be braided loosely to prevent the hairs from breaking, and in one braid.
Beds should not be soft and downy, and girls and women must not, as a certain physician says they are apt to do, surround themselves with a great many pillows. This is enervating, prevents ventilation, hinders circulation and renders the flesh flabby. A hard bed is best for making firm flesh.
To sleep prone upon the back, as shown in the illustration, is unhygienic. With the figure propped up with many pillows and the knees raised, it is impossible to obtain beneficial sleep. This position sends the blood to the brain, and induces nightmare and bad dreams. It causes the mouth to drop open, thus making nasal breathing impossible.
Sleeping on the stomach is also unhealthful. It binders digestion and circulation, and renders breathing difficult. By the pictures it will be observed that in both incorrect positions, the arms of the sleeper are thrown over her head. This is what particularly impairs the circulation. Sleeping on the right side stretches the muscles about the heart, and increases any trouble one may have with that organ.
An eminent physician says that the correct way to sleep is on the left side with the arm thrown behind. Animals sleep as nearly upon the chest as possible and they adopt the best methods usually, in these matters. As shown in the picture, this brings the body nearly, but not quite over the chest. This is the best position for promoting health and a fine figure.
That the brain may receive more perfect rest, the room should always be darkened, during the hours of slumber. For those who are bad sleepers this precaution should especially be taken.