Sleep-Ill is a disease of the mind that causes several sleep related
difficulties including sudden attacks of sleep, loss of muscle control and
difficulty sleeping at night. Named after its most frequent victims, members of
the Night Watch throughout Santharia are
most often afflicted with this disease. The illness goes by several other names
depending on the region, like "Watchman's Weakness" (simply "The Weakness to
Watchmen"), "Wake-sap" and "Drowsies" being just two of them.
Symptoms. Frequent complaints of sleepiness despite a good quality and quantity of sleep are usually the best indicator of Sleep-Ill. As the disease progresses its symptoms may diversify to include hallucinations while the victim is on the edge of sleep (waking or beginning to sleep) or relaxed and a sudden inability to move while still awake. Any of these occurring over time is a fair indicator of the disease. The hallucinations themselves can be quite vivid, leading to all sorts of accidents in sufferers, occasionally ending in death, but most simply leading to further injury of the victim. The (admittedly antiquated) Guide to "Ailments and Maladies of Men" by Talabaltt Calitter has this to say on the subject of "Wake-sap":
"The illness, lacking any apparent means of transmission from afflicted to others, is believed to be an illness brought on not in the body but in the mind. The sufferer is beset with sudden sleep, occasional hallucinations, especially while waking or falling into sleep, sometimes of a particularly frightening variety. They may suddenly find themselves unable to move, though afterwards there is nothing to be found wrong with them."
Those afflicted with Sleep-Ill may suddenly fall asleep, regardless of what
they are doing, experience sudden attacks of weakness in the muscles or
continue to act and move despite being asleep. Later on in the course of the
illness, the victim may find difficulty sleeping at night or wake frequently
despite not being interrupted. This lack of sleep may contribute to the other
symptoms and effects in a type of vicious, self-feeding cycle. The
White Nehtorian Lysmarael wrote:
"If the patient cannot sleep at night, they are more likely to succumb to sleep
during the day, and if they sleep during the day they are less likely to sleep
at night. It is a very difficult situation to remedy." Lysmarael goes on to
write that "If the patient should fall asleep during the day too often, they
may find it impossible to re-adjust to sleeping at normal hours."
Cure/Prevention. It is believed that only the symptoms and effects of the disease can be treated as it is seen to be an ailment of the mind rather than the body, and some may give the afflicted party stimulating herbs and drinks to stave off sleeping during the day and then a sleeping draught at night to ensure sleep. Oft suggested herbs include Dreamer's breath and trinity herb to aid sleeping and daylong flower to keep the victim awake during the day. Some more knowledgable healers suggest arv seeds be consumed, but this is not thought to be a reliable treatment because of its tendency towards addiction and eventual death. In Nybelmar, watchmoss is dried and ground into a powder which is added to drink to improve the state of wakefulness, much like the daylong flower though lacking its bitter taste.
Vector/Cause. The cause of Sleep-Ill is unknown but believed to be related to disruption in normal sleep patterns, such as those caused by working at night and sleeping during the day or similar extreme changes in the sleeping pattern. It is known that dwarves and gnomes are not sufferers of Sleep-Ill, nor are Brownies or orcs. The disease is less known in Nybelmar, though the Krean folk seem to suffer it more often than other Nybelmarians.