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British Expat Newsletter:
1 February 2006

Hello, and welcome to those who have joined up since our last newsletter.

In this issue

  • This week: Sleep
  • Virtual Snacks
  • Bizarre Searches
  • Quotation and joke

This week

Lying awake in bed one night earlier in the week, I was thinking of a topic for this week’s newsletter – and decided that sleep would be as good a subject as any.

Sleep is quite rightly regarded as essential for healthy living and, indeed, living at all. Medical studies have shown that people entirely deprived of sleep for protracted periods – more than, say, a week – suffer long-term mental health problems including hallucinations and permanent personality changes. In extreme cases, people have been known to die as a result of long-term sleep deprivation. And it’s widely accepted that REM (rapid eye movement) sleep – the stage when most vivid dreams occur – is particularly valuable in regeneration of the body and of the brain in particular. (Dreams – now there’s a good subject for a future newsletter.) When someone advises you to “sleep on it”, that’s the reason why.

Do we need more or less sleep as we get older? Received wisdom says we probably need less. After all, you’ve only got to look at babies and toddlers, then compare them with teenagers, young adults, the middle-aged and the elderly to see that a pattern emerges. Some famous political leaders are said to get by on very few hours a night. Thatcher was (in)famous for getting by on only four hours or so. Mind you, so was Caligula. I sometimes wonder about Tony Blair – how many hours does he manage? Judging by his change of appearance between 1997 and now, probably not that many. Yet he still found the time to make babies. (Urgh – Tony Blair and Cherie Booth. There’s a thought to keep you awake at night…)

Nevertheless, some researchers reckon that even six hours a night is selling yourself short. Apparently the longer you sleep, the longer the spells of REM sleep last, with the final hour of an eight-hour sleep containing a particularly big one. So it’s worth getting that extra bit of “beauty sleep” – it really does help.

On the other hand, recent research suggests that sleep deprivation can be beneficial in treating depression. It seems that twenty-odd years ago it was quite a popular treatment to prescribe reduced sleep, although the effects of deprivation alone were temporary and unpredictable. Highly effective anti-depressant drugs soon superseded sleep deprivation as a treatment. However, doctors are now coming round to the idea of a combined therapy – pills and sleep deprivation – to consolidate the benefits of both treatments.

Anti-depressants often double up as sleeping pills. They can be useful on rare occasions if you’re ill and need the rest. And they’re a real boon if you don’t like long flights – which, being a smoker, I really don’t! – as you can just knock yourself out and hope not to wake up until you’ve arrived safely at the other end. In the absence of the transporter beam which to my mind ought to be a major priority for scientists, it serves as a kind of low-tech suspended animation.

A few months ago when fighting off dengue fever, I wanted some sleeping pills just to tide me over a bad patch of not being able to sleep properly – just something mild which could be bought over the counter. After we did a bit of charades and miming the need to sleep, the chemist (or shop assistant in the chemist’s shop) cheerfully handed over a couple of packets of pills.

I never pay much attention to medical things, so needless to say the name of the pills meant absolutely nothing to me. However, I wanted to it check out before actually taking the stuff. Apparently it was Alprazolam so I searched the Internet for information. It turned out it’s also sold under the brand name Xanax. Now that I have heard of! Not least because the vast amount of spam on the Internet is from people illegally flogging the stuff. I guess it’s a prescription-only drug in most Western countries. (And perhaps with good reason, because it is highly addictive.) But here we are, we can buy it cheaply over the counter. Ah, life without nanny.

Do you have anything to say about this topic, or do you have some suggestions for other issues we might discuss in our weekly email? Why not comment and tell us about it?

Virtual Snacks

Alprazolam is generally used to treat anxiety disorders and panic attacks, and is in a class of medications called benzodiazepines. Here’s an interesting link all about it:
Mentalhealth.com: Alprazolam

Try this site for some interesting facts about sleep (and snoring).
Franklin Institute – Sleep and Stress

Bizarre Searches

Some strange search terms which have led people to visit British Expat recently:

  • letter butterfly tattoo
  • free ecard animated poorly
  • septic tooth
  • i am mr lam cadeo
  • don john longest penis worldwide
  • disguised satellite dishes
  • indian culture maid sex
  • delhi shit on shoe
  • how to take off a shower knob
  • girls nest door
  • plastic surgery parties
  • probainognathus location

Till next time…
Happy surfing!

Kay
Editor
British Expat Magazine

Quotation

“A flock of sheep that leisurely pass by
One after one; the sound of rain, and bees
Murmuring; the fall of rivers, winds and seas,
Smooth fields, white sheets of water, and pure sky –
I’ve thought of all by turns, and still I lie
Sleepless…”

– William Wordsworth, To Sleep

Joke

There’s this guy who always goes out drinking with his friends and doesn’t go home until very late. One night at the pub he tells them the secret of how he’s able to sneak in late.

“When I walk into the house, before the wife can say anything, I lay her down, take off her panties, and give her the best oral sex she’s ever had, until she has such an orgasm that she falls into a deep sleep. Then I have a wash, clean my teeth and go to bed. The next morning, she is so pleased, she doesn’t care what time I came home.”

One of his friends thinks this is a great idea. So he stays out late, comes home, sneaks into the bedroom, gives his wife the best oral sex she’s ever had, and goes to have a wash and clean his teeth. His wife walks into the bathroom, obviously upset that he’s home so late.

“Hey, how come you’re not asleep?” he asks.

“I was, but I came in to tell you that we’ve got to sleep on the settee tonight, ’cause my mother is sleeping in our bedroom.”

PG Author: Kay McMahon

Kay has been an expat for nearly 30 years. She set up the British Expat website back in early 2000, whilst living in London and missing the expat life. These days she spends much of her time lugging computers and cameras around the world. (Dave gets to deal with all the really heavy stuff.)

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