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JAMA 100 Years Ago
April 14, 2004


Author Affiliations

JAMA 100 Years Ago Section Editor: Jennifer Reiling, Assistant Editor.

JAMA. 2004;291(14):1780. doi:10.1001/jama.291.14.1780-d

Sleep is a condition of diminished irritability of the entire nervous system, during which opportunity is afforded for recuperation from antecedent fatigue. The exact factors on which sleep depends are not definitely known, although it may be surmised that they are in part chemical or metabolic and in part circulatory or vascular. The amount of sleep required varies in different individuals, and in the same individual at different times. Deficient sleep or insomnia is observed in association with a number of disorders of the nervous system, directly or indirectly; abnormal somnolence more rarely under analogous conditions. A most extraordinary instance of prolonged somnolence, probably of hysterical origin, has recently been placed on record,1 the patient, a woman, having slept, as recorded, for seventeen years. Somnolence further occurs occasionally as a symptom of syphilitic disease of the cerebral blood vessels, and an unusual case of this character is reported by Mr. William B. Bennett.2 The patient was a man, thirty-four years old, with a history of the initial lesion of syphilis eight years previously, who presented aphasia, had several convulsions and exhibited marked somnolence, both by day and by night, covering a period of five months. Headache and hemiplegia were conspicuously absent. Complete recovery followed active treatment with mercury and iodin. The lesions are believed to have consisted in extensive syphilitic inflammation of the central arteries, without thrombosis or embolism, but possibly with spasm of the arteries.

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