Dr Neil Stanley Independent Sleep Expert
BACK William MacLehose, ‘Sleepwalking, Violence and Desire in the Middle Ages’, Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry, xxxvii (2013). While this paper does reference Ekirch’s work it makes no mention of ‘first sleep’, second sleep’ or segmented sleep. Nikolaos Barkas, ‘Sleep and Sleeplessness  in  Byzantium’  (Ph.D.  thesis,  Queen’s  University  Belfast, 2013). This thesis has been turned into a rather good book ‘Sleep And Sleeplessness In Byzantium’ By Nikolaos Barkas, Gorgias Press LLC, 2016, ISBN 978-1-4632-0237-8. Barkas forensically dissect Ekirch’s thesis concerning early ‘segmented sleep’. I could quote extensively from this book but just two quotes will be sufficient P 223 Nonetheless, if the prayed, this took place on the expense of their sleep, and not during a sleep-free zone as Ekirch claims P271-272 An issue rose with Ekirch’s claim that as far s prayer at midnight is concerned, the church simply colonised a natural break in sleep and did not create it itself. Were Ekirch right, there would have been no sleep-abstinence, because people were in any case awake at that time. But, Ekirch has misinterpreted the Homeric and Classical passages, using only one medical study which had several shortcomings, and from which he glossed over some scientific findings. Furthermore, it is clear from the historical data the Byzantines did not act as Ekirch concluded I must admit that Ekirch is brave to quote someone who so comprehensively refutes his thesis Benjamin Reiss, ‘Sleeping at Walden  Pond: Thoreau, Abnormal  Temporality,  and the Modern Body’, American Literature, lxxxv (2013); Peeling back this figurative coverlet can help us to uncover in Walden traces of the history of sleep, a topic that is only now being studied within humanities and social sciences. In our own time, we have witnessed the rapid emergence of sleep as a  battleground of late-stage capitalism: it is increasingly studied and tinkered with by the forces of biomedicalization, corporate (micro) management of time and behavior, and a consumer culture that is fed by the first two. Without denying that much has been learned about the functions and mechanisms of sleep in the past half-century or so of scientific and medical research, recent work in an emerging field that might be called “critical sleep studies” has shown that this knowledge has often been put in the service of controlling, manipulating, and commodifying the human form of this basic animal activity for the ends of capital (see Williams 2005, 2011; Brown 2004; Wolf-Meyer 2008, 2012; and Kroll-Smith 2003). Brigitte Steger, ‘Negotiating Sleep Patterns in Japan’, in Brigitte Steger and Lodewijk Brunt (eds.), Night-Time and Sleep in Asia and the West: Exploring the Dark Side of Life (Abingdon, 2003). Given that this book gives no indication of segmented sleep I ask Dr Steger  about this phenomena (personal communication dated 11th June 2015). She explicitly states that she can find no evidence of segmented sleep in Japanese sources. “In Japan, I haven't found any indication of a concept of first and second sleep as such. But it was certainly not uncommon for sleep to be interrupted and there was no concept of consolidated sleep either. In general, sleep and wakefulness were not as clearly segregated, both in terms of location (as someone commented, there were no separate bedrooms) and of time. I mentioned the boarding schools (for samurai) where students were woken up at night to study, but I am not sure how common that was, perhaps in part more an ideal of virtue: the harder it is to study, the (morally) better. But from what I understand, the issue was not so much about 'pondering over a problem', like European/German scholars did (you find a bit in Hannah Ahlheim's work), it was more about some Confucian ethic to overcome inclinations of sleep and other physical weakness. Basically, it seems that night-time sleep was not as sacrosanct as we feel it is today; people were more tolerant towards potential disturbance (as they were more tolerant towards napping) and houses not safe from intruder. I was recently told about rules in some samurai households (Edo period) where the lower ranking samurai were woken up every hour or so to check on them. But I don't know whether these rules were put into practice and whether they were common in other households as well” Benjamin Reiss, ‘Sleep’s Hidden Histories’, Los Angeles Review of Books, 15 Feb. 2014. here This is merely a review of 3 books BACK
© Dr. Neil Stanley 2013-2018