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33684.  Wed Nov 23, 2005 4:37 am Reply with quote

Oo-er, sorry Flash, I should have checked both of those. I've edited my post so that the response will make sense to the next reader.

Mostly Harmless
34320.  Thu Nov 24, 2005 9:41 pm Reply with quote


Last edited by Mostly Harmless on Mon Jan 09, 2006 8:58 am; edited 1 time in total

Frederick The Monk
34362.  Fri Nov 25, 2005 6:18 am Reply with quote

Hmmm - chicken stuffed with mercury, now that must be good for you.

53516.  Mon Feb 20, 2006 11:27 am Reply with quote

Dormice link quite naturally to the subject of sleep:

`You might just as well say,' added the Dormouse, who seemed to be talking in his sleep, `that "I breathe when I sleep" is the same thing as "I sleep when I breathe"!'

`It IS the same thing with you,' said the Hatter

The name dormouse is connected with the Latin dormire, or French dormir, to sleep, with 'mouse' added. In German it is called Schlafratte, which comes more or less to the same thing.

As Flash says above, it is not actually a mouse. Muscardinus avellanarius is the only representative of its genus, but belongs to a family — the Gliridae, or Myoxidae.

Although they resemble squirrels, unlike squirrels they are nocturnal. They hibernate in cold winters, and become very fat before winter starts (which is when the perfidious French like to eat them). However, they don't sleep all through the winter - on a warmer than normal day they wake up and feed on stores that they hoard in the autumn.

53518.  Mon Feb 20, 2006 11:29 am Reply with quote

A QI today's New York Times throws an interesting light on sleep patterns (and makes me feel better about the insomnia I occasionally suffer). Here's an extract:

[P]re-industrial families commonly experienced a "broken" pattern of sleep, though few contemporaries regarded it in a pejorative light. Until the modern age, most households had two distinct intervals of slumber, known as "first" and "second" sleep, bridged by an hour or more of quiet wakefulness. Usually, people would retire between 9 and 10 o'clock only to stir past midnight to smoke a pipe, brew a tub of ale or even converse with a neighbor.

Others remained in bed to pray or make love. This time after the first sleep was praised as uniquely suited for sexual intimacy; rested couples have "more enjoyment" and "do it better," as one 16th-century French doctor wrote. Often, people might simply have lain in bed ruminating on the meaning of a fresh dream, thereby permitting the conscious mind a window onto the human psyche that remains shuttered for those in the modern day too quick to awake and arise.

The principal explanation for this enigmatic pattern of slumber probably lies in the nocturnal darkness that enveloped pre-industrial households — in short, the absence of artificial lighting. There is a growing consensus on the impact of modern lighting on sleep. The Harvard chronobiologist Charles A. Czeisler has aptly likened lighting to a drug in its physiological effects, producing, among other changes, altered levels of melatonin, the brain hormone that helps to regulate our circadian clock.

In fact, during clinical experiments at the National Institute of Mental Health, human subjects deprived of light at night for weeks at a time exhibited a segmented pattern of sleep closely resembling that related in historical sources (as well as that still exhibited by many wild mammals). The subjects also experienced, during intervals of wakefulness, measurably higher levels of prolactin, the hormone that allows hens to sit happily upon their eggs for long periods.

These elevations of prolactin reinforce historical descriptions of complacent feelings at "first waking" and, back then, probably helped calm people's worries about the night's perils. Prolactin is also what differentiates segmented sleep, with its interval of "non-anxious wakefulness" that nearly resembles a meditative state, from the tossing-and-turning insomnia we medicate against. "Let the end of thy first sleep raise thee from thy repose: then hath the body the best temper; then hath thy soul the least encumbrance," wrote the moralist Francis Quarles.

Remarkably, then, our pattern of consolidated sleep has been a relatively recent development, another product of the industrial age, while segmented sleep was long the natural form of our slumber, having a provenance as old as humankind. (Homer even invoked the term "first sleep" in "The Odyssey.")

gerontius grumpus
53558.  Mon Feb 20, 2006 11:58 am Reply with quote

Reaches for Collins Guide to Mammals...

There are 5 genera of dormice in Europe, each represented by a single species.
Two species are found in Britain, the common dormouse Muscardinus avellanarius and the edible dormouse Glis glis. The latter was the type eaten by the Romans, fattening them up in jars called gliraria and, presumably by the French as mentioned above.
They ( Glis glis ) were introduced into the UK in 1902.

53568.  Mon Feb 20, 2006 12:02 pm Reply with quote

Dammit I always get mixed up between genus and species...

53651.  Mon Feb 20, 2006 1:16 pm Reply with quote

Jenny's fascinating report on sleep is culture-specific, of course. In Mediterranean lands the siesta can be considered to be nearly half the body's requirement, hence the Greek and Spanish tendency to appear to stay up half the night, get up early, kip in the middle of the day, and do it all again. This is reflected in opening hours - at one time everything shut from about 1400-1700 hours.
As Britain gets warmer in the summer, I frequently have a rest early afternoon when it is hottest.

'Mad dogs and Englishmen...'
N Coward

'It's siesta time in Guadala-jjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjara...'
Tom Lehrer

53855.  Tue Feb 21, 2006 5:45 am Reply with quote

Alternatively you could try polyphasic sleep

Sounds a bit extreme for me, though.

53862.  Tue Feb 21, 2006 6:24 am Reply with quote

I get told off by Mrs Tas for keeping odd hours. My natural rhythm seems to be more cat naps and less sleep at night (typically awake until two or more in the morning, and sleeping until nine or so. Take fifteen mins or half an hour in the afternoon, and another bit in the evening).

Used to be fun when I was younger, and going to pubs and parties, but damned annoying now, trying to fit in a 9-5 job!



53875.  Tue Feb 21, 2006 7:25 am Reply with quote

dr.bob wrote:
Alternatively you could try polyphasic sleep

Sounds a bit extreme for me, though.

I think you only go into REM sleep that quickly if you are sleep deprived already. This sounds like it could work short-term (I did something similar when finishing up my thesis, although I was awake for 72 hrs straight at the end getting it ready for binding) but if your sleep was interrupted for any reason, as it inevitably will be, then it could have some unpleasant consequences and ultimately one way or another you're likely to crash.

53899.  Tue Feb 21, 2006 8:00 am Reply with quote

You can read the blogs to find out how the guy got on with up. They go on for the first 3 months. Or you can just skip to the last one to read his conclusions:

He does say "If I delay or miss a nap, it messes me up for the next cycle or two — I feel a bit sleep-deprived"

He also mentions "My brain actually feels different than when I slept monophasically. It’s really hard to describe this sensation, but it sort of feels like my brain is soaking in a warm jacuzzi."

Not sure I really like the sound of that!

53914.  Tue Feb 21, 2006 8:24 am Reply with quote

dr.bob wrote:
He also mentions "My brain actually feels different than when I slept monophasically. It’s really hard to describe this sensation, but it sort of feels like my brain is soaking in a warm jacuzzi."

Good description! To be avoided if possible I think, my own sleep patterns are distinctly modern art. In fact in so much as they are patterns at all they are Pollocks; but your body and brain tell you when it/they need rest, so I listen to them.

Cleverina Clogs
54859.  Thu Feb 23, 2006 10:49 am Reply with quote

you don't eat a doormouse unless it is made of chocolate!

54899.  Thu Feb 23, 2006 1:34 pm Reply with quote

Viewers of the new TV drama series ‘Rome’ may have been taken aback to hear, in the first episode, that the Romans ate dormice. Do not fear, however, for we are not talking here about our own sleepy, Alice-in-Wonderland dormouse which would have been just a mouthful, a canapé at a Roman cocktail party. No, the Romans ate the so-called edible or fat dormouse Glis glis which is about the same size as a guinea pig (which is still eaten in Peru). Like our native dormouse, the edible species puts on a great deal of fat in the autumn and hibernates for the winter so it is easy to ‘store’. The Romans kept these dormice alive in very large pots called dolia which in turn were kept in special dormouse gardens.

Petronius tells that dormice were glazed with honey and then in poppy seeds. However, the main source of recipes from Classical Roman times is De Re Coquinaria, by Marcus Gavius Apicius. This contains around 500 recipes, one of them for Glires, a dormouse stuffed with a forcemeat pf pork and small pieces of dormouse meat trimmings, all pounded with pepper, pine nuts, asafoetida, fish sauce and broth. The dormouse thus stuffed was put into an earthenware casserole and roasted in the oven, or boiled in the stock pot.

Edible dormice may also be killed, salted and kept in barrels and this still happens in Slovenia and Croatia where very large numbers are killed every year. For poor people dormice are a significant source of meat and individual hunters may kill up to 250 in a single night. But the hunting season is very short and this harvest does not seem to dent the population. Although edible dormice are not native to Britain, they were introduced here in 1902 by Lord Rothschild and their population is still based around what was his estate at Tring Park. Both edible and common or hazel dormice are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.


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