Dr Neil Stanley Independent Sleep Expert
BACK   Jon Mooallem, ‘The Sleep–Industrial Complex’, New York Times Magazine, 18 Nov. 2007; here   “More surprising still, Ekirch reports that for many centuries, and perhaps back to Homer, Western society slept in two shifts. People went to sleep, got up in the middle of the night for an hour or so, and then went to sleep again. Thus night — divided into a ‘first sleep’ and ‘second sleep’ — also included a curious intermission. ‘There was an extraordinary level of activity,’ Ekirch told me. People got up and tended to their animals or did housekeeping. Others had sex or just lay in bed thinking, smoking a pipe, or gossiping with bedfellows. Benjamin Franklin took ‘cold-air baths,’ reading naked in a chair. Our conception of sleep as an unbroken block is so innate that it can seem inconceivable that people only two centuries ago should have experienced it so differently. Yet in an experiment at the National Institutes of Health a decade ago, men kept on a schedule of 10 hours of light and 14 hours of darkness — mimicking the duration of day and night during winter — fell into the same, segmented pattern. They began sleeping in two distinct, roughly four-hour stretches, with one to three hours of somnolence — just calmly lying there — in between. Some sleep disorders, namely waking up in the middle of the night and not being able to fall asleep again, ‘may simply be this traditional pattern, this normal pattern, reasserting itself,’ Ekirch told me. ‘It’s the seamless sleep that we aspire to that’s the anomaly, the creation of the modern world.’”  ‘National Sleep Foundation 2013 International Bedroom Poll First to Explore  Sleep  Differences among Six Countries’,  National  Sleep  Foundation, here “On work days fewer than seven hours on average for adults in the United States, The United Kingdom and Japan” But this is not true in Germany, Canada and Mexico. Therefore I am not sure what exactly Ekirch’s point is in making the statement. William C. Dement, The Promise of Sleep: a Pioneer in Sleep Medicine Explores the Vital Connection Between Health, Happiness, and a Good Night’s Sleep (New York, 2000); John M. Shneerson, Sleep Medicine: a Guide to Sleep and its Disorders, 2nd edn (Oxford, 2005).  Why, does Ekirch only quote a popular science book and a, at the time, 10 year old sleep textbook? BACK
© Dr. Neil Stanley 2013-2018