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Docs Interpret Shakespeare

Looking for sleep disorders

(HealthDayNews) -- Most people go to the theater and think about the show. Neurologists go to a show and think about neurology.

That's the only explanation of why the journal Neurology offered a report about sleep disorders -- as portrayed in Shakespeare's plays.

Here's what they found:

  • Somnambulism, sleep walking and sleeptalking are shown by Lady Macbeth in Macbeth act V scene I. Lady Macbeth probably suffered from anxiety and depression, and would have benefited from psychotherapy.
  • Sleep apnea -- difficulty breathing while asleep -- is shown by Falstaff in Henry IV. Poor Falstaff would have been advised to lose weight and avoid alcohol, or else he would wind up on a respirator.
  • Insomnia -- difficulty sleeping -- turns up in Macbeth, Henry IV and Richard III. Psychotherapy, to reduce anxiety, would have been the best treatment.
  • Nightmares, probably the most common sleep disorder, show up in Richard III, Henry IV, Macbeth, and Hamlet. When Hamlet says "To sleep, perchance to dream," it's nightmares that he's thinking about.
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