Dr Neil Stanley Independent Sleep Expert
BACK John Bell, ‘On Periodicity in the Actions of the Animal Oeconomy during Health and Disease’, Philadelphia Journal of the Medical and Physical Sciences, i (1825), 335–6, 344. here Given that  Torbjorn Akerstedt et al in their paper Awakening from sleep (Sleep Medicine Reviews, Vol. 6, No. 4, pp 267-286, 2002 here) say “Human subjects awake preferentially at the end of REM sleep” the below reference are merely describing the first waking in the night and thus the period of sleep before this is the first sleep but the context shows that it is not the ‘first sleep’ of Ekirch’s hypothesis nor provides any evidence of the prolongation of ‘first sleep’  Page 335-6 Finally comes the night to close the circle of the diurnal revolution. This period includes the time from nine o'clock in the evening till three in the morning. The animal oeconomy, even though watchfulness be preserved, suffers an extraordinary depression, partly from the absence of external stimuli, from darkness, nocturnal coldness and humidity, and partly by the concentration of vital power in the interior, and the lying or horizontal position which produces a stag nation of venous blood, especially in the encephalon, and a consequent disposition to drowsiness. The disorders resulting from cold, humidity, and feebleness, increase at night; the body is more susceptible to the impression of miasmata. Almost all spasms cease during sleep. In the natural sleep, the pulse is at first slower, and the repose more profound and without dreams. All the faculties are in a state of salutary equilibrium, and a general remission exists in the activity of the functions of life. But towards two or three o'clock in the morning, the pulse rises considerably. A peculiar shock is sometimes felt at this time, especially by the gouty, hypochondriacal, and asthmatic, and very often epilepsy, and various critical paroxysms in diseases take place, as we shall see hereafter. The vital organs now begin to recover from that state, of concentration or rather of internal oppression, and we more usually awake at this hour, either by a nightmare or some unknown internal emotion of our OEconomy. We seldom dream but in the second sleep, which is lighter and pleasanter, owing in part to the coolness of the morning. Page 344 The periods in which the fewest deaths occur, are from ten o'clock at night till three in the morning, corresponding to that of the first sleep; as also those from eight to ten in the morning, and from twelve to one in the day. Page 337-339 The functions of respiration and circulation, are performed with energy proportionate to the number of organs in activity, and of course are most energetic during the day. If then, in a state of wakefulness, the external organs evolve more animal heat, and the excretions outwardly are more frequent and copious, we find on the other hand, that a pro longed sleep, or a long night chills the body, retards the vital movements, diminishes the activity of the circulation and the frequency of the pulse, produces a sluggishness of movement, a temporary stagnation of the fluids. But when the stomachic digestion is completed, and the chyle is thrown into the torrent of the circulation, the lungs for sanguification, and the heart and arteries for circulation, are of course excited, and act with greater energy. During this time also, the hitherto agitated animal functions are calm, and the internal organs generally are, in their turn, the centre of vital action. If, however, any obstacle be opposed to the free exercise of the functions of the latter, particularly digestion and secretion, they react sympathetically on the heart and lungs, and precipitate their movements. Hence, it not unfrequently happens, that a person who goes to sleep with a tranquil condition of his system, generally will, after a few hours, awake and feel his heart beat strongly, his chest full, and skin hot, especially if his digestion have been imperfectly performed. Finally, as the functions of respiration and circulation are greatly under the influence of the external senses and volition, or the movements of the brain, they will of course, in the first part of the night, be performed more slowly and equably, when the excitations from these sources are all removed by sleep. On the approach of morn, however, or two or three hours after midnight, the external senses and the brain, (or animal life,) begin to awake partially, and the above-mentioned functions are made to participate in this revival. An attention to the above circumstances, viz. the tranquillity and repose of the internal organs during the first sleep and early part of the night, drawing with them those of respiration and circulation; the influx of chyle afterwards, or the reaction from some internal irritation of the other organs, and the partial awakening of those of animal life in the after part of the night, will serve to explain the slowness of circulation and diminished action of the pulse before midnight, and its subsequent rise towards morning. In the circle of physiological actions performed in the period of twenty-four hours, or during night and day, we may include parturition, which takes place in the greater number of cases during the night and towards morning. Let us now consider the influence of the diurnal revolution on diseases, and their mortality. Page 341-343 Of the Influence of Night. — It is well known that sthenic affections exacerbating in the day, have a remission in the humidity, cold, and obscurity of the night, and that on the other hand, the diseases which are milder during the day, such as fevers, mucous phlegmasiae, catarrhs, croup, affections of the lymphatic system, dropsy, cachexia, asthenic complaints, and paralyses in general, are aggravated in the night. There are, however, certain states of our organs at particular hours, independent of the sensible properties of the atmosphere, or of light and darkness; and hence, as remarked by an ingenious writer, to whom I am largely indebted on this occasion, the human body is, in this respect like a living clock, wound up by nature, and kept a-going by the rapid movements of our planet and the sun. Humboldt tells of a certain countess at Madrid, who lost her voice at sunset, and only recovered it at early dawn. This paralysis of the recurrents of the eighth pair disappeared in the climate of Naples, and reappeared in that of Rome. Other nocturnal paralyses, deliriums, and vertigos, have been observed to come on at the same epoch, which renders probable what Aristotle relates of a tavern keeper at Tarentum, who was very rational during the day, but became in sane regularly on the approach of night The hemeralopses at this time experience very sensibly that singular collapse which prevents them seeing, while those labouring under nyctalopia, on the contrary, see better in a feeble light: and we find at this period some head-aches begin, and other cease. "A woman," says Baillout " fell into a state of insensibility at sunset, and recovered her vigour in the morning." After this general view it becomes us to notice the phenomena observable in the several hours or stated periods of the night The oppression of incubus, for example, only comes on in the first sleep; when also the suffocating feeling from ascites is most distressing. It is the same with the venereal pains of the bones, rheumatism, and scurvy. Asturian, leprosy, croup, catarrhal affections, hooping cough, and periodical cough, are greatly aggravated during this same period. It is then also that gangrena senilis, passive haemorrhages, so called, petechia;, and the danger from adynamic or low fevers, and contagious and pestilential ones, are increased on account of the general depression in the animal oeconomy. Towards two or three o'clock in the morning, when the pulse rises after the first sleep, another order of actions begin. Sydenham was astonished to find the gout make its attack so exactly at this time. Floyer makes a similar re mark on asthma. Dropsical spasms, violent palpitations, which awake the alarmed hypochondriacal, or frightful dreams, are then experienced; it is then that somnambulists rise and move about, whilst the wakefulness of old men, and that produced by slow fever, come on. The greater number of epilepsies, the paroxysms of which supervene in the night, declare themselves at this period. [William Kitchiner], The Art of Invigorating and Prolonging Life by Food, Clothes, Air, Exercise, Wine, Sleep, etc. and Peptic Precepts, Pointing out Agreeable and Effectual Methods to Prevent and Relieve Indigestion, and to Regulate and Strengthen the Action of the Stomach and Bowels. Suaviter in modo, fortiter in re. To Which Is Added, the Pleasure of Making a Will. Finis coronat opus, 2nd edn (London 1821) 192   here  THE NIGHTMARE has generally come on about three o’clock in the morning, at the termination of the first, or rather at the commencement of the second sleep; — quite as often when he has taken only a liquid or very light supper, as when he has eaten some solid food, and gone to bed soon after; —and most frequently after he has Dined out: not from the quantity, but the quality of the food and drink he has taken, the change of the time of taking it. The fatigue attending his performance of Amphytrion at his own table, has also occasionally produced it Not that this source has difficulty locating the timing of the nightmare stating that it occurs “at the termination of the first, or rather at the commencement of the second sleep” such confusion would obviously not occur if there was a period of wakefulness, as Ekirch contends, between ‘first’ and ‘second’ sleep. The London Encyclopedia: or, Universal Dictionary of Science, Art, Literature, and Practical Mechanics, Comprising, a Popular View of the Present State of Knowledge. Illustrated by Numerous Engravings, a General Atlas, and Appropriate Diagrams, 22 vols. (London, 1829), xx, 464; here In dreaming, as in the soundest sleep, the action of the external senses is suspended; but the internal faculties are active in greater or less number. Volition takes place, but the muscles do not obey the will. That dreaming is a less sound species of sleep appears from the familiar fact, which has probably been observed by every individual; viz. that the first sleep is much freer from it than the second. We retire to rest, fatigued by the exertions of the day, and sleep soundly for five or six hours; we wake, and then fall asleep again towards the morning, and dream the whole time of this second sleep. This example could on the face of it conceivably be taken as evidence of Ekirch’s idea of ‘segmented sleep’ however the phrase used is “this second sleep” which seems odd rather than “the second sleep” which would be more indicative that it was actually referring to ‘segmented sleep’ but it does not provide evidence of the prolongation of ‘first sleep’ [Daniel Griffin], Life of Gerald Griffin Esq., by his Brother (London, 1843), 278. here  He was so fond of this song that frequently after awaking from his first sleep on the sofa about two or three o'clock in the morning he would go to the piano and sing it two or three times before retiring to his room. Many a time have the inmates of our house, been roused from their slumber, by the plaintive tones of the despairing captive, which were sweetened and rendered more touching, by the silence of the night, and the distance. Note that he was sleeping on a sofa and unlike him the other “inmates of our house”, one presumes given the use of the plural they were the majority, were not actually awake at this time. BACK
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