Dr Neil Stanley Independent Sleep Expert
BACK I have discussed the references to the Asante, G/wi, Tiv, Chagga here and here Elizabeth Rosenthal, ‘African Huts Far From the Grid Glow With Renewable Power’, New York Times, 24 Dec. 2010. here J. G. Christaller, A Dictionary of the Asante and Fante Language Called the Tshi (Chwee, Twˇ i): with a Grammatical Introduction and Appendices on the Geography of the Gold Coast and Other Subjects (Basel, 1881), 66; here o-dasu, pl. a-, [oda su = hovow] a division of the night, nightwatch (of which the negroes count three: from 6 to 10, 10 to 1  and 1 to 4 o'clock. Woda na wunyan a, wofre no d. biako; od. biako twam' a, ua omuniunkum ne mframa abetwam'.) Wayi (or wada) d. biako, he has slept the first part of the night; wgada ayi d. fa, they lie in the first sleep: woada ayi ad. abien, they have slept from the beginning of the night till after midnight; oada ayi ad. abiesa, they had slept till about 4 o'clock in the morning; obaa od. abien mu, he came in the second watch; eduu od. konkon, it was in the middle of the night; odasium, at midnight, in the night. — F. dosii, Mt. :.'4,43. Bruno Gutman, The Tribal Teachings of the Chagga, trans. Ward Goodenough and Dorothy Crawford (New Haven, n.d.); George Silberbauer, Hunter and Habitat in the Central Kalahari Desert (Cambridge, 1981), 111; here  “A G/wi camp never has an uninterrupted night's sleep. There is always someone awake, adding wood to the household fire, eating a snack, seeing to a child, listening to a strange noise in the bush, or keeping watch if dangerous animals are near. For this reason the divisions of the night are almost as important as those of the day when it comes to relating the events of the 24 hour period.” Agnes Korn, ‘A New Locative Case in Turkmenistan Balochi’, Iran and the Caucasus, xii (2008), 89; here 16) awli-en wab-a by-ay-ay ta mn-iya first-ADJ sleep-OBL SBJ-come.PRS-2SG you.SG I-LOC “come to me at [the time of] the first sleep” (Barjasteh Delforooz 2004: 54) Douglas Hollan, ‘Sleep, Dreaming, and Health in Rural Indonesia and the Urban U.S.: a Cultural and Experiential Approach’, Social Science and Medicine, lxxix (2013), 25–6; Co-sleepers often huddled together closely, sharing blankets and covers for warmth and for the comfort and security of bodily contact. This close contact with one’s sleeping partners along with the continuous awareness of other housemates and domestic animals that the permeable walls both afforded and could not prevent, meant that sleep in Toraja was always punctuated. One could not help but be aware of others as they turned in their sleep, slipped out of the house to urinate, mumbled or talked during dreams and nightmares, or chatted when unable to sleep or when a dream had awakened them. To give just one brief example from my own experience: I once visited an elderly man who normally slept in the back of his house with his elderly wife and one or two young grandchildren. When it was decided that I would spend the night, the elderly man slept in the front of the house with me while his wife remained in the back with the children. Throughout the night, we could hear his wife, who had been ill for an extended period of time, coughing loudly and repeatedly and turning in her sleep, which in turn, led the children to toss and turn. Also, the elderly man and I roused each other as we both got up at various points during the night to urinate in the bamboo outside of the house. While it is clear that this pattern of punctuated sleep, which is common in many parts of the world (Worthman & Melby, 2002) is quite different than the uninterrupted or “fragmented” sleep (Stamatakis & Punjabi, 2010; Tasali et al., 2008) measured and studied in most sleep laboratories, it is not yet clear how such a pattern might affect the cycles of NREM and REM that many scholars think are characteristic of human sleep everywhere (Hobson, 1999; Iber et al., 2007). We do not yet know, for example, whether and to what extent punctuated sleep  suppresses slow wave sleep (SWS), and if so, whether it has the same negative consequences-impairments of alertness and cognitive performance, of memory formation, of neuroendocrine function, and of glucose metabolism-we have come to anticipate from such suppression among isolated sleepers in laboratory settings (Tasali et al., 2008). Nor is it yet completely clear how co-sleeping affects many other basic biological functions during sleep and the implication of these for health. Only many more ecologically valid studies of naturally occurring sleep in different parts of the world will tell. What I can report, however, is that punctuated sleep is normalized in a place like Toraja. I never heard anyone complain about being roused at night, and those that end up being tired during the day simply find time for a nap, either at home or under temporary shelters in the fields and gardens. Indeed, what is much more worrisome to people is the thought of having to sleep alone, without the comfort of familiar bodies around oneself and leaving oneself more vulnerable to wandering thieves or spirits of various kinds. Note that this passages description of ‘punctuated sleep’ does not resemble Ekirch’s conception of ‘segmented sleep’ A. W. Howitt, The Native Tribes of South-East Australia (1904; Canberra, 1996), 375; here  Armed with this, the medicine-man would sneak up to the camp during a man’s first sleep. I am told the most favourable time would be when the sleeper snored. This I believe given the context is clearly a description of deep sleep Dianne Johnson, Night Skies of Aboriginal Australia: a Noctuary (Sydney, 1998),here  On frosty winter’s nights, Aboriginal people that we observed around New South Wales and Victoria ended to stir in the early hours, about three to four hours before sunrise. The people have had their first sleep, and the cold begins to make itself felt. The men and women especially those are old sit up and replenish their fires. This is a description of the need to get up to replenish their fires because of the cold, and thus is not the natural awakening from ‘first sleep’ as proposed by Ekirch Whereas anthropologists have reported evidence of polyphasic as well as biphasic sleep, pre-industrial peoples observed in Africa, Latin America  and  Australia  were more apt to sleep in two segments. Those who arise frequently, the anthropologists Carol M. Worthman and Melissa K. Melby note, have tended to be foragers, with insubstantial dwellings at most, who sleep beside fires for warmth — the noise from which, irregular in volume and frequency, allows them to be monitored subliminally, leading to multiple awakenings. Carol M. Worthman and Melissa K. Melby,‘Toward a Comparative Developmental Ecology of Human Sleep’, in M. A. Carskadon, (ed.), Adolescent Sleep Patterns: Biological, Social, and Psychological Influences (New York, 2002). Note that this passage talks about “polyphasic as well as biphasic sleep” and not ‘segmented sleep’. They are two different things. BACK
© Dr. Neil Stanley 2013-2018