Dr Neil Stanley Independent Sleep Expert
BACK William Mountfort, The Successful Straingers (London, 1690), 22;  here Ekirch uses the following quote  "Why People are not so Religious of late, To break their Sleep to serve Heav'n" and claims that it “reflected the early decline of segmented slumber generally, not just the infrequency of midnight devotions”. However this is not “a servant’s query” as Ekirch claims but a line from a play, spoken by the character at 5am. In the scene  Guzman, the servant, is scared of being discovered out at that time and Farmosa tells him not to worry as he will not be discovered because people are not that religious to ‘break their sleep’ to worship. Given that the events take place at 5am this passage is not relevant to the concept of  ‘segmented slumber”. Act I Scence III Guz.Well I must be gone, The Morning's nimble and gets ground of us,' Adieu ! Far. Why in such haste?. Guz. My Master will want me, hark, the Bell Ririgs to Morning Exercise, shall be discover’d." Far. Why People are not so Religious of late, To break their Sleep to serve Heav'n. Guz. Tis the 5-a-Clock Bell. Far. Why let it be-the 6-a-Clock Bell, it Rings not for you, you are eager at every Call but mine. Guz. Nay Farmosa, ‘tis Reputation. Far. 'Tis your Uneasiness ; but go and you will; The phrase “To break their sleep” would seem to imply a conscious effort to wake up for nightly devotions rather then a reflection of segmented slumber, which according to Ekirch is the natural state of repose and the awakening around midnight was unforced. A Manual of Prayers for the Use of the Scholars of Winchester College . . . (London, 1695), 33, here was not produced “Five years later” as asserted by Ekirch but was in fact first published in 1674 pre-dating the The Successful Straingers quote by 16 years. “Directions for Midnight. IF you chance to wake in the Night, or can't sleep, beware, Philotheus of idle and unclean Thoughts, which will then be apt to crowd into your Mind;” “IF you chance to wake in the Night” implies that waking in the night is not a usual or regular occurrence challenging Ekirch’s claim that “Until the close of the early modern era, Western Europeans on most evenings experienced two major intervals of sleep bridged by up to an hour or more of quiet wakefulness“. BACK
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