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Category: Facts (Page 1 of 2)

Depression

By John M. Grohol, Psy.D.
~ 6 min read

What is Depression?

Clinical depression goes by many names, such as “the blues,” biological or clinical depression, and a major depressive episode. But all of these names refer to the same thing: feeling sad and depressed for weeks or months on end — not just a passing blue mood of a day or two. This feeling is most often accompanied by a sense of hopelessness, a lack of energy (or feeling “weighed down”), and taking little or no pleasure in things that once gave a person joy in the past.

Depressed? Take the Quiz NowDepression symptoms take many forms, and no two people’s experiences are exactly alike. A person who’s suffering from this disorder may not seem sad to others. They may instead complain about how they just “can’t get moving,” or are feeling completely unmotivated to do just about anything. Even simple things — like getting dressed in the morning or eating at mealtime — become large obstacles in daily life. People around them, such as their friends and family, notice the change too. Often they want to help, but just don’t know how.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, risk factors for depression can include a family history of mood disorders, major life changes, trauma, other physical diseases (such as cancer), and even certain medications. But today, the causes of depression still remain largely unknown.

Depression can appear differently in children than in adults. In children, it can look more like anxiety or anxious behavior.

What’s Depression Feel Like?

“[If there was] certainty that an acute episode [of depression] will last only a week, a month, even a year, it would change everything. It would still be a ghastly ordeal, but the worst thing about it — the incessant yearning for death, the compulsion toward suicide — would drop away. But no, a limited depression, a depression with hope, is a contradiction. … [T]he conviction that it will never end except in death — that is the definition of a severe depression.”

~ George Scialabba

Symptoms of Depression

Clinical depression is different from normal sadness — like when you lose a loved one, experience a relationship breakup, or get laid off from work — as it usually consumes a person in their day-to-day living. It doesn’t stop after just a day or two — it will continue for weeks on end, interfering with the person’s work or school, their relationships with others, and their ability to just enjoy life and have fun. Some people feel as if a huge hole of emptiness has opened inside when experiencing the hopelessness associated with this condition. In any given year, 7 percent of Americans will be diagnosed with this condition; women are 2 to 3 times more likely to be diagnosed than men (American Psychiatric Association).

The symptoms of depression include the majority of the following signs, experienced nearly every day over the course of two or more weeks:

  • a persistent feeling of loneliness or sadness
  • lack of energy
  • feelings of hopelessness
  • difficulties with sleeping (too much or too little)
  • difficulties with eating (too much or too little)
  • difficulties with concentration or attention
  • total loss of interest in enjoyable activities or socializing
  • feelings of guilt and worthlessness
  • and/or thoughts of death or suicide.

Most people who are feeling depressed don’t experience every symptom, and the presentation of symptoms varies in degree and intensity from person to person.

Learn more: What are the different types of depression?

Causes & Diagnosis

Depression doesn’t discriminate who it affects by age, gender, race, career, relationship status, or whether a person is rich or poor. It can affect anyone at any point in their life, including children and adolescents (although in teens and children, it can sometimes be seen more as irritability than a sad mood).

Like most mental disorders, researchers still don’t know what exactly causes this condition. But a combination of factors is likely to blame, including: genetics, neurobiological makeup, gut bacteria, family history, personality and psychological factors, environment, and social factors in growing up.

A mental health specialist is the type of professional best equipped to make a reliable diagnosis for this condition. These kinds of professionals include psychologists, psychiatrists, and clinical social workers. While a general practitioner or family doctor may be able to make an initial diagnosis, further followup and treatment should be done by a specialist for the best treatment results.

Depression Treatment

Can depression actually be successfully treated? The short answer is yes. According to the National Institute of Mental Health and countless research studies over the past six decades, clinical depression is readily treated with short-term, goal-oriented psychotherapy and modern antidepressant medications. For most people, a combination of the two works best and is usually what is recommended. Psychotherapy approaches scientifically proven to work with depression include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), interpersonal therapy, and psychodynamic therapy (Gelenberg et al., 2010). Psychotherapy is one of the most effective treatments for all types of depression and has very few side effects (and is a covered treatment by all insurers).

For mild depression, many people start with self-help strategies and emotional support. There are some common herbal treatments that research has also shown to be effective, including St. John’s wort and kava (Sarris, 2007). The positive effects of exercise and diet should not be under-estimated in helping mild to moderate depression symptoms as well. Increased, regular exercise is recommended as a component of treatment for all severity levels of depression.

When psychotherapy and antidepressants don’t work, clinicians may turn to other treatment options. Usually the first is to try and adjunct medication to the existing antidepressant medication. In more serious or treatment-resistant cases, additional treatment options may be tried (like ECT or rTMS). Ketamine infusion treatments also appear to be effective, but are generally not covered by insurance and the long-term risks are unknown.

No matter how hopeless things may feel today, people can get better with treatment — and most do. The key to successful treatment is usually dependent upon the person recognizing there’s a problem, seeking out treatment for it, and then following the treatment plan agreed to. This can be far more challenging for someone who’s depressed than it sounds, and patience is a core necessity when starting treatment.

You can learn more about the benefits of psychotherapy, medications, and whether you should consider psychotherapy, medication or both in our in-depth depression treatment guide.

Living With & Managing Depression

When faced with the emptiness and loneliness of this condition, many people living with it find it a daily struggle just to wake up in the morning and get out of bed. Everyday tasks most of us take for granted — like showering, eating, or going to work or school — seem insurmountable obstacles to a person living with depression.

The key to living with depression is ensuring you’re receiving adequate treatment for it (usually most people benefit from both psychotherapy and medication), and that you are an active participant in your treatment plan on a daily basis. This requires a lot of effort and hard work for most people, but it can be done. Establishing new, healthier routines are important in many people’s management of this condition. Getting regular emotional support — for instance, through an online support group — can also be extremely beneficial.

Helping Someone with Depression

When we see a friend or family member in distress, most of us want to reach out and offer a hand. But when it comes to this kind of mental illness, all too often we remain silent, fearful of the stigma associated with the diagnosis. There is nothing to be ashamed of, and no reason not to offer to help out someone who is going through the challenges of living with this disorder.

You can learn a lot on ways to be helpful by reviewing the following articles, specifically written with friends and family members in mind:

Getting Help

Recovery from a depressive episode takes time as well as a desire and willingness for change. You can start by talking to someone — anyone — about your feelings, and finding some immediate emotional support through the sharing. Many people start their journey of recovery off by going to see their family physician for an initial diagnosis. Such a professional can also help connect you with referrals or encouragement to continue your treatment with a mental health specialist.

The first step is yours to take. Be brave and know that in taking it, you’re starting down the road to recovery from this terrible disorder.

More Resources & Stories: Depression on OC87 Recovery Diaries and Depression on The Mighty

References

  1. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.
  2. Beck, A.T., Rush, A.J., Shaw, B.F. & Emery, G. (1987). Cognitive Therapy of Depression. New York: Guilford.
  3. Burns, D.D. (1999). The Feeling Good Handbook. New York: Plume.
  4. Gelenberg, A.J. et al. (2010). Practice Guideline for the Treatment of Patients With Major Depressive Disorder. American Psychiatric Association.
  5. Gotlib, I.H. & Hammen, C.L. (2015). Handbook of Depression: Third Edition. New York: Guilford.
  6. National Institute of Mental Health. (2018). Depression. Retrieved from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/depression/index.shtml on November 18, 2018.
  7. Muneer, A. (2018). Major Depressive Disorder and Bipolar Disorder: Differentiating Features and Contemporary Treatment Approaches. In Understanding depression. New York: Springer.
  8. Sarris, J. (2007). Herbal medicines in the treatment of psychiatric disorders: a systematic review. Phytotherapy Research. J Herbal Pharmacotherapy, 2, 49-55.

The Gender Wage Gap: Earnings Differences by Race and Ethnicity

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The gender wage gap in weekly earnings for full-time workers in the United States did not improve between 2016 and 2017. In 2017, the ratio of women’s to men’s median weekly full-time earnings was 81.8 percent, a decrease of 0.1 percentage points since 2016, when the ratio was 81.9 percent, leaving a wage gap of 18.2 percentage points, nearly the same as the 18.1 percentage points in 2016. Women’s median weekly earnings for full-time work were $770 in 2017 compared with $941 for men. Adjusting for inflation, women’s and men’s earnings increased by the same amount, 0.7 percent, since 2016.1

Another measure of the wage gap, the ratio of women’s and men’s median annual earnings for full-time, year-round workers, was 80.5 percent in 2016 (data for 2017 are not yet available). An earnings ratio of 80.5 percent means that the gender wage gap for full-time, year-round workers is 19.5 percent.

The gender earnings ratio for full-time, year-round workers, which includes self-employed workers, tends to be slightly lower than the ratio for weekly earnings (which excludes the self-employed and earnings from annual bonuses, and includes full-time workers who work only part of the year). Both earnings ratios are for full-time workers only; if part-time workers were included, the ratios of women’s to men’s earnings would be even lower, as women are more likely than men to work reduced schedules, often in order to manage childrearing and other caregiving work.

Figure 1: The Gender Earnings Ratio, 1955-2017, Full-Time Workers

Notes: See Table 2

Since 1980, when weekly earnings data were first collected, the weekly gender earnings ratio has risen from just 64.2 percent to 81.8 percent now. Most of the progress towards gender equality took place in the 1980s and 1990s. In the past ten years (2008 to 2017), the weekly gender wage gap narrowed by just 2.0 percentage points, compared with 3.9 percentage points in the previous ten years (1998 to 2007), and with 4.4 percentage points in the ten years prior to that (1988 to 1997). Progress in closing the gender earnings gap based on median annual earnings has also slowed considerably. If the pace of change in the annual earnings ratio were to continue at the same rate as it has since 1985, it would take until 2059 for women and men to reach earnings parity.2

Earnings Differences by Gender, Race and Ethnicity

Women of all major racial and ethnic groups earn less than men of the same group, and also earn less than White men, as illustrated by Table 1. Hispanic workers have lower median weekly earnings than White, Black, and Asian workers. Hispanic women’s median weekly earnings in 2017 were $603 per week of full-time work, only 62.2 percent of White men’s median weekly earnings, but 87.4 percent of the median weekly earnings of Hispanic men (because Hispanic men also have low earnings). The median weekly earnings of Black women were $657, only 67.7 percent of White men’s earnings, but 92.5 percent of Black men’s median weekly earnings (Table 1). Primarily because of higher rates of educational attainment for both genders, Asian workers have higher median weekly earnings than White, Black or Hispanic workers (the highest of any group shown in Table 1). Asian women’s earnings are 93.0 percent of White men’s earnings, but only 74.8 percent of Asian men’s earnings. White women earn 81.9 percent of what White men earn, very close to the ratio for all women to all men, because White workers remain the largest group in the labor force.

Women and men of the largest racial and ethnic groups, besides Asian women and men, saw increases in median weekly earnings between 2016 and 2017.3 White women’s real earnings increased by 1.6 percent, Hispanic women’s by 0.8 percent, and Black women’s by 0.4 percent. Asian women saw a decrease in median weekly earnings of 2.0 percent. Asian, Hispanic, and White men’s earnings increased (by 2.7 percent, 1.9 percent, and 0.9 percent, respectively), while Black men’s earnigns fell by 3.2 percent. Earnings for a full-time week of work leave Hispanic women well below, and Hispanic men and Black women not much above, the qualifying income threshold for receipt of food stamps of $615 per week for a family of four.4

Table 1: Median Weekly Earnings and Gender Earnings Ratio for Full-Time Workers, 16 Years and Older by Race/Ethnic Background, 2016 and 2017

Notes: Hispanic workers may be of any race. White, Black, and Asian workers include Hispanics. Annual average of median weekly earnings. Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Median weekly earnings of full-time wage and salary workers by selected characteristics, Annual Averages <http://www.bls.gov/cps/cpsaat37.pdf> (retrieved March 2018).

Women’s lower earnings are due to a number of factors, including lower earnings in occupations done mainly by women; lack of paid family leave and subsidized child care; and discrimination in compensation, recruitment, and hiring.5 Measures to improve the quality of jobs held mainly by women, tackle occupational segregation, enforce equal pay and employment opportunities, and improve work-family benefits for all workers, will help the incomes of women and their families grow and strengthen the economy.6

Table 2: The Gender Wage Ratio and Real Earnings, 1955-2017, Full-Time Workers

Notes for Figure 1 and Table 2: Annual earnings data include self-employed workers; weekly data are for wage and salary workers only and are not restricted to full-year workers. Annual earnings are for people 15 years old and older beginning in 1980 and people 14 years old and older for previous years. Before 1989, annual earnings are for civilian workers only. Weekly earnings are for full-time workers aged 16 and older. The annual average of weekly median earnings is usually released in February by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Annual median earnings data are typically released in late summer or early fall by the U.S. Census Bureau. Both data series are derived from the Current Population Survey (CPS). Adjustments for data from earlier years to 2017 dollars are computed on the basis of the Consumer Price Index Research Series (CPI-U) published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics <https://www.bls.gov/cpi/tables/supplemental-files/historical-cpi-u-201801.pdf> (accessed March 2018). The 2014 CPS ASEC, the portion of the CPS that is used to generate the annual earnings figures, included redesigned income questions. Estimates presented for 2013 are based on the portion of the 2014 CPS ASEC sample which received the income questions consistent with the 2014 CPS ASEC; see DeNavas-Walt and Proctor (2015) for an explanation of methodology. The newer income questions in the 2014 CPS ASEC measure a slightly wider gender gap, a female-to-male earnings ratio of 77.6 percent, compared to the previous questions (78.3 percent); therefore, the estimates presented for 2013 here differ from those shown in IWPR #C423 and IWPR #C430. Earnings data for 1981-1984 are available upon request.


Sources for Figure 1 and Tables 1 and 2: Annual data: 1955: Francine D. Blau and Marianne A. Ferber, The Economics of Women, Men, and Work, 2nd ed. (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1992); U.S. Census Bureau, Income and Poverty in the United States: 2016 Table A-4 <https://www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/library/publications/2017/demo/P60-259.pdf > (accessed March 2018) Weekly data: 1980-2016: from U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Median weekly earnings of full-time wage and salary workers by selected characteristics, Annual Averages <http://www.bls.gov/cps/cpsaat37.pdf> (retrieved March 2018). 

Notes

  1. 2016 earnings were converted into 2017 dollars using the Consumer Price Index Series (CPI-U) , U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics <https://www.bls.gov/cpi/tables/supplemental-files/historical-cpi-u-201801.pdf> (accessed March 2018).
  2. Institute for Women’s Policy Research. November 2017. “Women’s Median Earnings as a Percent of Men’s, 1985-2016 (Full-time, Year-Round Workers) with Projection for Pay Equity, by Race/Ethnicity.” IWPR Quick Figures #Q066 <https://iwpr.org/publications/womens-median-earnings-1985-2016/> (accessed March 2018).
  3. According to data provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, changes in earnings between 2016 and 2017 were statistically significant for White women and men; for other groups, with smaller survey sample sizes, 2017 earnings were within the margin of error compared to 2016 data.
  4. To qualify for food stamps, the income of a household of four must be at or below 130 percent of the federal poverty level; in 2016/17 this earning threshold was $2,665 per month, corresponding to $615 per week (USDA Food and Nutrition Service. 2017. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). On the internet at <http://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/eligibility> (accessed March 2018).
  5. Blau, Francine D. and Lawrence Kahn. 2016. “The Gender Wage Gap: Extent, Trends, and Explanations” NBER Working Paper No. 21913. < http://www.nber.org/papers/w21913> (accessed March 2018).
  6. Council for Economic Advisors. 2015. “Gender Pay Gap: Recent Trends and Explanations.” Issue Brief. The White House <https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/equal_pay_issue_brief_final.pdf> (accessed March 2016); Institute for Women’s Policy Research. February 2016. “The Economic Impact of Equal Pay by State.” IWPR #R468 <http://www.iwpr.org/publications/pubs/the-economic-impact-of-equal-pay-by-state> (accessed March 2018).

The History of Coming Out

In the Beginning, There Was a March

On Oct. 11, 1987, half a million people participated in the March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights. It was the second such demonstration in our nation’s capital and resulted in the founding of a number of LGBTQ organizations, including the National Latino/a Gay & Lesbian Organization (LLEGÓ) and AT&T’s LGBTQ employee group, LEAGUE.  The momentum continued four months after this extraordinary march as more than 100 lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer activists from around the country gathered in Warrenton, Va., about 25 miles outside Washington, D.C. Recognizing that the LGBTQ community often reacted defensively to anti-LGBTQ actions, they came up with the idea of a national day to celebrate coming out and chose the anniversary of that second march on Washington to mark it. The originators of the idea were Rob Eichberg, a founder of the personal growth workshop, The Experience, and Jean O’Leary, then head of National Gay Rights Advocates. From this idea the National Coming Out Day was born.

Each year on Oct. 11, National Coming Out Day continues to promote a safe world for LGBTQ individuals to live truthfully and openly.

Themes of NCOD

For 15 years the Human Rights Campaign announced a theme to exemplify the spirit of National Coming Out Day. Here are some of the themes chosen:

2014 – Coming Out Still Matters
2013 – Coming Out Still Matters
2012 – Come Out. Vote.
2011 – Coming Out for Equality
2010 – Coming Out for Equality
2009 – Conversations from the Heart
2007 – Talk About It
2006 – Talk About It
2005 – Talk About It
2004 – Come Out. Speak Out. Vote.
2003 – It’s a Family Affair
2002 – Being Out Rocks!
2001- An Out Odyssey
2000 – Think it O-o-ver (Who Will Pick the New Supremes?)
1999 – Come Out to Congress

The People of NCOD

The success of NCOD, which from inception quickly expanded to include participation from all 50 states and foreign countries, is because of the hard work of celebrities, volunteers and activists.

  • Rob Eichberg and Jean O’Leary were the originators of the idea of NCOD
  • In 1987, Activist Sean Strub got Keith Haring to donate his now-famous image of a person fairly dancing out of a closet
  • In 1990, Lynn Shepodd, who later became a member of HRC’s Board of Governors, was hired as executive director and obtained tax-exempt status for the organization
  • Geraldo Rivera hosted a coming out day TV program in 1991 that featured Dick Sargent, a gay actor famous for playing Darren on Bewitched, openly gay California Assemblywoman Sheila Kuehl and Eichberg.
  • Wes Combs in 1994 was named HRCF’s project director for National Coming Out Day
  • Candace Gingrich, half-sibling of then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich, became a National Coming Out Project spokesperson and full-time activist in 1995
  • Dan Butler, who played the character Bulldog on NBC-TV’s Frasier, was NCOD spokeperson in 1995
  • Rock musician Melissa Etheridge did a radio public service announcement, reminding people that “Labels belong on records, not on people.”
  • Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., spoke at the “Come Out Voting” rally in Washington, D.C., Oct. 11, 1996.
  • Fashion photographer Don Flood in 1996 shot past spokespeople Bearse, Butler and Gingrich, along with Olympic diver Greg Louganis, actor Mitchell Anderson, newly minted gay activist Chastity Bono and Sean Sasser, who had appeared in MTV’s The Real World.
  • In 1996, actress Judith Light, pro golfer Muffin Spencer-Devlin and, in her first appearance at a gay rights event, Cher spoke at a Come Out Voting rally in Washington, DC
  • In September 1997 the project brought in its first straight spokesperson, Betty DeGeneres, mother of actress/comedian Ellen DeGeneres.
  • Patrick Bristow (formerly of the Ellen TV show), Dan Butler, San Francisco Supervisor Mark Leno, longtime activist Donna Red Wing, Betty DeGeneres, Gingrich and SF Mayor Willie Brown were featured in a 1998 NCOD event in San Francisco’s Delores Park
  • Chicago-native and founding member of the rock group Styx Chuck Panozzo celebrated a special homecoming in 2001 when he came out at the Human Rights Campaign annual Chicago dinner.
  • On National Coming Out Day, Oct. 11, 2002, a benefit CD featuring the songs of openly LGBTQ musicians and straight allies was released. Cyndi Lauper, Queen, k.d. lang, Jade Esteban Estrada and Sarah McLachlan are among the artists who donated songs to the album.
  • Etheridge’s name appears on a poster celebrating the 2002 theme along with 18 other openly LGBTQ artists, including Ani DiFranco, Michael Stipe, the Indigo Girls, RuPaul, Rufus Wainwright and The Butchies

HOW UNIVERSITY STUDENTS SLEEP

Good sleep is strongly linked to learning, memory, creativity, and problem solving. However, poor sleep habits notoriously plague college and university students, depriving them of performing their best when it matters the most. Research into the problem has generally been limited to sleep surveys of single universities, for short periods, of less than 1,000 students (1–10, for example). Leveraging the sleep tracking capabilities of UP by Jawbone, we can take an unprecedented look at how tens of thousands of college students sleep across the country at over 100 universities, totaling 1.4 million nights of sleep.

HOW UNIVERSITIES SLEEP

Students who track their sleep with UP at these schools average 7.03 hours of sleep during the week, and 7.38 hours of sleep on weekends. Female students get significantly more sleep than their male counterparts, averaging 23 more minutes per weeknight and 17 more minutes per weekend night. The National Sleep Foundation recommends that students get between 7-9 hours of sleep per night. At first blush, this may appear that students are getting enough sleep. However, framed another way, students slept less than 7 hours on 46.2% of the nights in this study.

An even larger difference can be seen between bedtimes for men and women. On weeknights women go to sleep on average at 12:23am and wake up at 8:09am, while men go to bed 39 minutes later and sleep in 22 minutes more. On weekends the effect is even larger: women go to bed at 1:01am on average and wake up at 9:07am, with men going to sleep 42 minutes later and sleeping in 28 minutes more.

ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE AND SLEEP

We see a strong relationship between a school’s average bedtime on weeknights and their US News and World Report’s 2016 college ranking (data nerds: r2 = 0.45). The tougher the school, the later the students go to bed, with Columbia and UPenn having the latest bedtimes. We also looked for a relationship between urban/city schools and suburban/rural schools and bedtime, but the effect was small and weak. The relationship between these rankings and amount of sleep was also weak (r2 < 0.1). This seems to confirm the findings in (1112) — that higher general intelligence (but not necessarily academic performance and grades) is associated with night owls. (One paper claims that the linkage between the two may be men’s mating success—but we’ll leave that to another study (13)).

With wearables like UP by Jawbone and products like Smart Coach, we can take a unique look at sleep, which helps us make smarter predictions and recommendations for our users’ health than ever before.

REFERENCES

This is only a survey of the available literature. A useful review of college student sleep health can be found in Eric Davidson’s 2012 PhD dissertation.

  1. Franklin C. Brown, Barlow Soper, Walter C. Buboltz. Prevalence of delayed sleep phase in university studentsCollege Student Journal. 2001.
  2. Walter C. Buboltz, Franklin C. Brown, Barlow Soper. Sleep habits and patterns of college students: a preliminary studyJournal of American College Health. 2001.
  3. Eric S. Davidson. Predictors of sleep quantity and quality in college students. PhD dissertation. 2012.
  4. LeAnne M. Forquer, Adrian E. Camden, Krista M. Gabriau, C. Merle Johnson. Sleep patterns of college students at a public universityJournal of American College Health. 2008.
  5. J. Hawkins, P. Shaw. Self-reported sleep quality in college students: A repeated measures approachSleep. 1992.
  6. Hannah G. Lund et al. Sleep patterns and predictors of disturbed sleep in a large population of college studentsJournal of Adolescent Health. 2010.
  7. Halszka Oginska, Janusz Pokorski. Fatigue and mood correlates of sleep length in three age-social groups: School children, students and employeesChronobiology International. 2006.
  8. Kathryn M. Orzech, David B. Salafsky, Lee Ann Hamilton. The state of sleep among college students at a large public university. Journal of American College Health. 2011.
  9. June J. Pilcher, Elizabeth S. Ott. The relationships between sleep and measures of health and well-being in college students: A repeated measures approachBehavioral Medicine. 1998.
  10. Pamela V. Thacher. University students and “The All Nighter”: Correlates and patterns of students’ engagement in a single night of total sleep deprivationBehavioral Sleep Medicine. 2008.
  11. Juan Francisco Díaz-Morales, Cristina Escribano. Predicting school achievement: The role of inductive reasoning, sleep length, and morning-eveningnessPersonality and Individual Differences. 2013.
  12. Satoshi Kanazawa and Kaja Perina. Why night owls are more intelligentPersonality and Individual Differences. 2009.
  13. Christoph Randler et al. Eveningness is related to men’s mating successPersonality and Individual Differences. 2012.

Technical Notes. All data is anonymized and treated in aggregate. The data is from 18,498 students at 137 schools who logged 1.44M nights of sleep with UP between 2013 and 2016. To be identified as a student at a university, UP wearers needed to be between the ages of 18 and 22 with syncs on campus in at least 3 months between September and June. To compute sleep averages by university, we computed the average sleep for men and women, then weighted them by the real gender distribution of the school. The total hours of sleep is only night sleep (not including naps), and removes time when UP classified students as awake lying in bed (this is why total hours is less than the waketime – bedtime). The fit between academic performance and bedtime was calculated leaving out the US military academies, since their sleep is clearly unique relative to other universities. Weeknights included sleep on the evenings of Sunday-Thursday, and weekends included the evenings of Friday and Saturday. The east coast military academies of West Point, Naval Academy, and Coast Guard were combined.

Thanks to Steve Knodel for the visual design. Also thanks to an eagle eyed reddit user who spotted an error in Rutgers’ US News ranking (72, not 140) and another who noted that Stony Brook SUNY was mislabeled as Binghamton SUNY.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brian Wilt

BRIAN WILT

DIRECTOR, HEAD OF DATA SCIENCE AND ANALYTICS

Brian leads an engineering team building personalized health insights and coaching. At Jawbone, he makes data human. He coaches kids volleyball. He earned his PhD studying neuroscience and applied physics at Stanford (go Card), and before that, high-energy physics at CERN and MIT. Follow him @brianwilt.

Still a Man’s Labor Market: The Slowly Narrowing Gender Wage Gap

HIGHLIGHTS

The commonly used figure to describe the gender wage ratio—that a woman earns 80 cents for every dollar earned  by a man—understates the pay inequality problem by leaving many women workers out of the picture. This report argues that a multi-year analysis provides a more comprehensive picture of the gender wage gap and presents a more accurate measure of the income women actually bring home to support themselves and their families.

  • Women today earn just 49 cents to the typical men’s dollar, much less than the 80 cents usually reported. When measured by total earnings across the most recent 15 years for all workers who worked in at least one year, women workers’ earnings were 49 percent—less than half—of men’s earnings, a wage gap of 51 percent in 2015. Progress has slowed in the last 15 years relative to the preceding 30 years in the study.
  • The penalties of taking time out of the labor force are high—and increasing. For those who took just one year off from work, women’s annual earnings were 39 percent lower than women who worked all 15 years between 2001 and 2015, a much higher cost than women faced in the time period beginning in 1968, when one year out of work resulted in a 12 percent cut in earnings. While men are also penalized for time out of the workforce, women’s earnings losses for time out are almost always greater than men’s.
  • Strengthening women’s labor force attachment is critical to narrowing the gender wage gap. Despite considerable progress over the last 50 years, 43 percent of today’s women workers had at least one year with no earnings, nearly twice the rate of men. With high penalties for weak labor force attachment, achieving higher lifetime earnings for women will require strengthening women’s attachment to the labor force. Research has shown that such policies as paid family and medical leave and affordable child care, can increase women’s labor force participation and encourage men to share more of the unpaid time spent on family care.
  • Strengthening enforcement of equal employment opportunity policies and Title IX in education is also crucial to narrowing the gender wage gap further. Improved enforcement will help women enter higher paying fields that are now, despite decades of progress, still too often off-limits to women.

Read the full report

American Academy of Pediatrics Announces New Recommendations for Children’s Media Use

Today’s children grow up immersed in digital media, which has both positive and negative effects on healthy development. The nation’s largest group of pediatricians provides new set of recommendations and resources, including an interactive media use planning tool, to help families balance digital and real life from birth to adulthood.

Elk Grove Village, IL — Recognizing the ubiquitous role of media in children’s lives, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is releasing new policy recommendations and resources to help families maintain a healthy media diet.  To support these recommendations, the AAP is publishing an interactive, online tool so families can create a personalized Family Media Use Plan.

The AAP recommends that parents and caregivers develop a family media plan that takes into account the health, education and entertainment needs of each child as well as the whole family.

“Families should proactively think about their children’s media use and talk with children about it, because too much media use can mean that children don’t have enough time during the day to play, study, talk, or sleep,” said Jenny Radesky, MD, FAAP, lead author of the policy statement, “Media and Young Minds,” which focuses on infants, toddlers and pre-school children. “What’s most important is that parents be their child’s ‘media mentor.’ That means teaching them how to use it as a tool to create, connect and learn.”  A second policy statement, “Media Use in School-Aged Children and Adolescents,” offers recommendations for children ages 5 to 18, and a technical report, “Children, Adolescents and Digital Media,” provides a review of the scientific literature to support both policies. All three documents will be published in the November 2016 Pediatrics (online October 21).

The AAP recommends parents prioritize creative, unplugged playtime for infants and toddlers. Some media can have educational value for children starting at around 18 months of age, but it’s critically important that this be high-quality programming, such as the content offered by Sesame Workshop and PBS. Parents of young children should watch media with their child, to help children understand what they are seeing.

For school-aged children and adolescents, the idea is to balance media use with other healthy behaviors.

“Parents play an important role in helping children and teens navigate media, which can have both positive and negative effects,” said Megan Moreno, MD, MSEd, MPH, FAAP, lead author of the policy statement on media use in school-aged children and teens. “Parents can set expectations and boundaries to make sure their children’s media experience is a positive one. The key is mindful use of media within a family.”

Problems begin when media use displaces physical activity, hands-on exploration and face-to-face social interaction in the real world, which is critical to learning. Too much screen time can also harm the amount and quality of sleep. Organizations like Common Sense Media can help parents evaluate media content and make decisions about what is appropriate for their family.

Among the AAP recommendations:

  • For children younger than 18 months, avoid use of screen media other than video-chatting. Parents of children 18 to 24 months of age who want to introduce digital media should choose high-quality programming, and watch it with their children to help them understand what they’re seeing.
  • For children ages 2 to 5 years, limit screen use to 1 hour per day of high-quality programs. Parents should co-view media with children to help them understand what they are seeing and apply it to the world around them.
  • For children ages 6 and older, place consistent limits on the time spent using media, and the types of media, and make sure media does not take the place of adequate sleep, physical activity and other behaviors essential to health.
  • Designate media-free times together, such as dinner or driving, as well as media-free locations at home, such as bedrooms.
  • Have ongoing communication about online citizenship and safety, including treating others with respect online and offline.

The Family Media Use Plan tool will be launched on HealthyChildren.org on Friday, Oct. 21. A preview version is available for journalists to review at HealthyChildren.org/MediaUsePlan. This link should not be made public until 12:01 a.m. ET Friday, Oct. 21.

Today’s generation of children and adolescents is growing up immersed in media. This includes platforms that allow users to both consume and create content, including broadcast and streamed television and movies, sedentary and active video games, social and interactive media that can be creative and engaging, and even highly immersive virtual reality.

“Even though the media landscape is constantly changing, some of the same parenting rules apply,” said Yolanda (Linda) Reid Chassiakos, MD, FAAP, lead author of the technical report. “Parents play an important role in helping children and teens navigate the media environment, just as they help them learn how to behave off-line. The AAP wants to provide parents the evidence-based tools and recommendations to help them make their children’s media experience a positive one.”

For an embargoed copy of the report, or to interview an AAP spokesperson, contact the AAP Department of Public Affairs.

List of RAPE MYTHS

Rape myths are beliefs about sexual assault that wrought with problems. Some myths are just completely and blatantly untrue. What often happens is that beliefs surrounding circumstances, situations, and characteristics of individuals connected to rape are applied to all cases and situations uncritically. Myths exist for many historic reasons which include inherited structural conditions, gender role expectations, and the fundamental exercise of power in a patriarchal society. The best way to approach rape myths are to confront them honestly and frankly. Don’t deny their existence and don’t dismiss one ungrounded statement with another.Confronting rape myths sociologically means looking at the data and reevaluating knowledge in the face of social facts. What follows are a list of rape myths and the facts that bring those rape conceptions into question. They are not always conclusive but provide the ground work for continued research.

Myth: Rape is sex.

Fact: Rape is experienced by the victims as an act of violence. It is a life-threatening experience. One out of every eight adult women has been a victim of forcible rape. (National Victim Center and Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center, 1992) While sexual attraction may be influential, power, control and anger are the primary motives. Most rapists have access to a sexual partner. Gratification comes from gaining power and control and discharging anger. This gratification is only temporary, so the rapist seeks another victim.

Myth: Women incite men to rape.

Fact: Research has found that the vast majority of rapes are planned. Rape is the responsibility of the rapist alone. Women, children and men of every age, physical type and demeanor are raped. Opportunity is the most important factor determining when a given rapist will rape.

Myth: There is a “right way” to respond to a rape situation.

Fact:Since rape is life-threatening and each rapist has his own pattern, the best thing a victim can do is follow her instincts and observe any cues from the rapist. If the victim escapes alive she has done the right thing.

Myth:A victim should be discouraged from dwelling on the rape. She should “forget it”.

Fact: This advice generally comes from people who are more concerned with their own feelings than the victim’s. All victims should be offered the opportunity to talk about the assault with those personally close to them and knowledgeable professionals. Victims who are not allowed to talk about the rape have a much more difficult time recovering form it.

Myth:Support from family members is essential to the victim’s recovery.

Fact: A Victim Services study found that emotional and practical support offered by family and friends does not necessarily speed the recovery of rape victims. However, when the people that a victim relies on behave in un supportive or negative ways, the victim faces a longer, more difficult recovery process. These negative behaviors include worrying more about oneself that the victim, blaming the victim, withdrawing from the victim or behaving in a hostile manner, and attaching a stigma to the rape and demanding secrecy from the victim.

Myth:Rape trauma syndrome is a transient problem. Most healthy people will return to a normal state of functioning within a year.

Fact: Surviving a rape can lead a woman to a better understanding of her own strength, but rape is a life changing experience. Rape has a devastating effect on the mental health of victims, with nearly one-third (31%) of all rape victims developing Rape-related Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (RR-PTSD) some time in their lifetimes. More than one in ten rape victims currently suffer from RR-PTSD. (National Victim Center and Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center)

Myth: Rapists are non-white. Rapists are lower class. Rapists are “Criminal types”.

Fact: Rapists that fit the myth are more likely to be prosecuted but a rapist can be anyone: doctor, policeman, clergyman, social worker or corporate president.

Myth: Men can’t be raped.

Fact: There were approximately 20,000 sexual assaults of males ages 12 and over in the United States in 1991. (Bureau of Justice statistics, 1992)

Myth: Incest is rare.

Fact: Incest is common and happens in every community. An estimated 77% of reported sexual abusers are parents (57% of the total being natural parents), 16% are other relatives, and 6% are non-related. In addition, males are reported to be the abusers in 60 to 95% of cases. (Thoringer, School Psychology Review, 17 (4):614-636)

Myth: Sexual assaults are rare deviations and affect few people. After all, no one I know has been raped.

Fact: Sexual assaults are very common. Most likely, someone close to you has been profoundly affected by sexual assault. Not only are victims reluctant to discuss their assaults but many succeed in totally blocking the assault from conscious memory. However, the trauma remains and may come to the surface at another crisis or when the opportunity to discuss it with a sympathetic person arises. An estimated 155,000 women were raped each year between 1973 and 1987. (U.S. Department of Justice, 1991)

Myth: Women often make false reports of rape.

Fact: According to FBI crime statistics, during the 1990s around 8 percent. The “unfounded” rate, or percentage of complaints determined through investigation to be false, is higher for forcible rape than for any other Index crime. Eight percent of forcible rape complaints in 1996 were “unfounded,” while the average for all Index crimes was 2 percent.

Myth: You can tell a rapist by the way he looks.

Fact: Rapists are not physically identifiable. They may appear friendly, normal, and non-threatening. Many are young, married and have children. Rapist types and traits however can be categorized.

Myth: Women fantasize about being raped.

Fact: No woman fantasizes about being raped. Fantasies about aggressive sex may be controlled and turned off if they become threatening. In rape, the victim is unable to control the violence and stop it.

Myth: A man can’t rape his wife.

Fact: Many states now have laws against rape in marriage. The idea that a man can’t rape his wife suggests married women do not have the same right to safety as do unmarried women. Most battered women have experienced some form of sexual abuse within their marriage. It is also known that estranged or ex-spouses sometimes use rape as a form of retaliation.

Myth: Only “bad” women get raped.

Fact: No other crime victim is looked upon with the degree of suspicion and doubt as a victim of rape. Although there are numerous reasons why society has cast blame on the victims of rape, a major reason found in studies is that of a feeling of self protection. If one believes that the victim was responsible because she put herself in an unsafe position, such as being out late at night, drinking alcohol, dressing in a certain way, or “leading on” the rapist, then we are able to feel safer because “we wouldn’t do those things.” But, the basic fact remains that without consent, no means no, no matter what the situation or circumstances.

Myth: Rape is just unwanted sex and isn’t really a violent crime.

Fact: Rape is a lot more than an unwanted sex act, it is a violent crime. Many rapists carry a weapon and threaten the victim with violence or death.

Myth: Rape only occurs outside and at night.

Fact: Rape can and does occur anytime and anyplace. Many rapes occur during the day and in the victims’ homes.

Myth: Sexual assault is an impulsive, spontaneous act.

Fact: Most rapes are carefully planned by the rapist. A rapist will rape again and again, usually in the same area of town and in the same way.

Myth: Sexual assault usually occurs between strangers.

Fact: By some estimates, over 70% of rape victims know their attackers. The rapist may be a relative, friend, co-worker, date or other acquaintance.

Myth: Rape only happens to young attractive women.

Fact: Rape can and does strike anyone at anytime. Age, social class, ethnic group and has no bearing on the person a rapist chooses to attack. Research data clearly proves that a way a woman dresses and / or acts does not influence the rapists choice of victims. His decision to rape is based on how easily he perceives his target can be intimidated. Rapists are looking for available and vulnerable targets.Statistics were obtained from various sources including the study Rape in America, 1992, National Victim Center, The Federal Bureau of Investigations and the National Crime Survey.

Myth: Rape is a crime of passion.

Fact: Rape is an act of VIOLENCE, not passion. it is an attempt to hurt and humiliate, using sex as the weapon.

Myth: Most rapes occur as a “spur of the moment” act in a dark alley by a stranger.

Fact: Rape often occurs in one’s home – be it apartment, house or dormitory. Very often the rapist is known by the victim in some way and the rape is carefully planned.

Myth:Most rapists only rape one time.

FACT Most rapists rape again, and again, and again – until caught.

Myth: Only certain kinds of people get raped. It cannot happen to me.

FACTRapists act without considering their victim’s physical appearance, dress, age, race, gender, or social status. Assailants seek out victims who they perceive to be vulnerable. The Orange County Rape Crisis Center has worked with victims from infancy to ninety-two years of age and from all racial and socioeconomic backgrounds.

Myth: Only women and gay men get raped.

FACT The vast majority of male rape victims, as well as their rapists, are heterosexual.Male rape victims now represent 8% of the primary victims served by the Orange County Rape Crisis Center. Rapists are motivated by the desire to have power and control over another person, not by sexual attraction. Male rape is not homosexual rape. Many male victims do not report the assault because they fear further humiliation.

Myth: Rape is an impulsive, uncontrollable act of sexual gratification. Most rape are spontaneous acts of passion where the assailant cannot control him/herself.

FACT Rape is a premeditated act of violence, not a spontaneous act of passion. 71% of rapes are planned in advance. 60% of convicted rapists were married or had regular sexual partners at the time of the assault. Men can control their sexual impulses. The vast majority of rapists are motivated by power, anger, and control, not sexual gratification.

Myth: No woman or man can be raped against her or his will. Any person could prevent rape if he or she really wanted to.

FACT In 1991, 14% of the rapes reported to the Orange County Rape Crisis Center involved the use of a weapon. 74% involved physical force and/or threats of force. Women are often physically weaker than men and are not taught to defend themselves or to be physically aggressive. Furthermore, some women are not willing to hurt another person, especially if the offender is someone they know.

Myth: Most rapes occur when people are out alone at night. If people stay at home, then they will be safer.

FACT 44% of rapes reported to the Orange County Rape Crisis Center in 1991 occurred in the victim’s home.

Myth: Rapists are strangers. If people avoid strangers, then they will not be raped.

FACT In 60% of the rapes reported to the Orange County Rape Crisis Center in 1991, the rapist was known to the victim. 7% of the assailants were family members of the victim. These statistics reflect only reported rapes. Assaults by assailants the victim knows are often not reported so the statistics do not reflect the actual numbers of acquaintance rapes.

Myth: If the assailant, victim, or both are drunk, the assailant cannot be charged with rape.

FACT Forcing sex on someone who is too drunk to give consent is second degree rape in North Carolina. [It carries a prison sentence of up to 17 years.] Rape is a crime. People who commit crimes while under the influence of alcohol or drugs are not considered free from guilt.

Myth: Most rapes involve black men and white women.

FACT 77% of the rapes reported to the Orange County Rape Crisis Center in 1991 involved persons of the same race.

Myth: Rapists are abnormal perverts; only sick or insane men are rapists.

FACT In a study of 1300 convicted offenders, few were diagnosed as mentally or emotionally ill. Most were well-adjusted but had a greater tendency to express their anger through violence and rage.

Myth: Rape is a minor crime affecting only a few women.

FACT It is estimated that 1 in 8 women will be raped in her lifetime. Because of low reporting rates, it is not known how many adult men are assaulted. It is also estimated that 1 out of every 4 girls, and 1 out of every 8 boys are sexually assaulted in some way before they reach adulthood. Rape is the most frequently committed violent crime in this country.

Myth: Women frequently cry rape; false reporting of rape is common.

FACT The FBI reports that only 2% of rapes reports are given falsely. This is the same report rate for other felonies.

Myth: Most rapes occur on the street, by strangers, or by a few crazy men.

FACT Over 50% of reported rapes occur in the home. 80% of sexual assaults reported by college age women and adult women were perpetrated by close friends or family members. There is no common profile of a rapist. Rapes are committed by people from all economic levels, all races, all occupations. A rapist can be your doctor, your boss, your clergyman, your superintendent, your partner, your lover, your friend or your date.

Myth: You cannot be assaulted against your will.

FACT Assailants overpower their victims with the threat of violence or with actual violence. Especially in cases of acquaintance rape or incest, an assailant often uses the victim’s trust in him to isolate her.

Myth: Women secretly enjoy being raped.

FACT No woman/ man/ child enjoys being raped. It is a brutal intrusion on the mind, body and spirit that can have lasting trauma.

Myth: It is impossible for a husband to sexually assault his wife.

FACT Regardless of marital or social relationship, if a woman does not consent to sexual activity, she is being sexually assaulted. In fact, 14% of women are victims of rape committed by their husband.

Myth: If a person doesn’t “fight back” she/he wasn’t really raped.

FACT Rape is potentially life-threatening. Whatever a person does to survive the assault is the appropriate action.

Myth: A person who has really been assaulted will be hysterical.

FACT: Survivors exhibit a spectrum of emotional responses to assault: calm, hysteria, laughter, anger, apathy, shock. Each survivor copes with the trauma of the assault in a different way.

Myth: Women “ask for it” by their dress or actions.

FACT Rapists look for victims they perceive as vulnerable, not women who dress in a particular way. Assuming that women provoke attacks by where they are or the way they dress is victim-blaming. No person, whatever their behaviour, “deserves” to be raped.

Myth: Women “cry” rape.

FACT Only two percent of reported rape and related sex offences are false (which is approximately the same rate of false reports for other crimes). Although many cases are dropped because of insufficient evidence for conviction, this should not be confused with false reporting.

Myth: Gang rape is rare.

FACT: In 43% of all reported cases, more than one assailant was involved.

Myth: Women who are drunk are willing to engage in any kind of sexual activity.

FACT The fact that a woman has been drinking does not imply consent. Alcohol and drugs can render a woman incapable of consent.

Myth: Only young, pretty women are assaulted.

FACT Survivors range in age from infancy to old age, and their appearance is seldom a consideration. Assailants often choose victims who seem most vulnerable to attack: old persons, children, physically or emotionally disabled persons, substance abusers and street persons. Men are also attacked.

Myth: It is impossible to sexually assault a man.

FACT Men fall victim for the same reasons as women: they are overwhelmed by threats or acts of physical and emotional violence. Also, most sexual assaults that involve a male victim are gang assaults.

Myth: As long as children remember to stay away from strangers, they are in no danger of being assaulted.

FACT Sadly, children are usually assaulted by acquaintances; a family member or other caretaking adult. Children are usually coerced into sexual activity by their assailant, and are manipulated into silence by the assailant’s threats and/or promises, as well as their own feelings of guilt.

Myth: Most rapes involve black men raping white women.

FACT The majority of rapes are same race; womewhere around 3 to 4% are not same race.

Sociology of Rape
by University of Minnesota Duluth

Children and Media Tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics

The following health and safety tips are from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Feel free to excerpt these tips or use them in their entirety in any print or broadcast story, with acknowledgment of source.

In a world where children are “growing up digital,” it’s important to help them learn healthy concepts of digital use and citizenship. Parents play an important role in teaching these skills. Here are a few tips from the AAP to help families manage the ever-changing digital landscape.

  • Make your own family media use plan. Media should work for you and within your family values and parenting style. When used thoughtfully and appropriately, media can enhance daily life. But when used inappropriately or without thought, media can displace many important activities such as face-to-face interaction, family-time, outdoor-play, exercise, unplugged downtime and sleep. Make your plan at HealthyChildren.org/MediaUsePlan.
  • Treat media as you would any other environment in your child’s life. The same parenting guidelines apply in both real and virtual environments. Set limits; kids need and expect them. Know your children’s friends, both online and off. Know what platforms, software, and apps your children are using, what sites they are visiting on the web, and what they are doing online.
  • Set limits and encourage playtime. Media use, like all other activities, should have reasonable limits. Unstructured and offline play stimulates creativity. Make unplugged playtime a daily priority, especially for very young children.
  • Screen time shouldn’t always be alone time. Co-view, co-play and co-engage with your children when they are using screens – it encourages social interactions, bonding, and learning. Play a video game with your kids. It’s a good way to demonstrate good sportsmanship and gaming etiquette. Watch a show with them; you will have the opportunity to introduce and share your own life experiences and perspectives, and guidance. Don’t just monitor children online, interact with them – you can understand what they are doing and be a part of it.
  • Be a good role model. Teach and model kindness and good manners online. Because children are great mimics, limit your own media use. In fact, you’ll be more available for and connected with your children if you’re interacting, hugging and playing with them rather than simply staring at a screen.
  • Know the value of face-to-face communication. Very young children learn best through two-way communication. Engaging in back-and-forth “talk time” is critical for language development. Conversations can be face-to-face or, if necessary, by video chat with a traveling parent or far-away grandparent. Research has shown that it’s that “back-and-forth conversation” that improves language skills—much more so than “passive” listening or one-way interaction with a screen.
  • Limit digital media for your youngest family members. Avoid digital media for toddlers younger than 18 to 24 months other than video chatting. For children 18 to 24 months, watch digital media with them because they learn from watching and talking with you. Limit screen use for preschool children, ages 2 to 5, to just 1 hour a day of high-quality programming. Again co-viewing is best when possible and for young children they learn best when they are re-taught in the real world what they just learned through a screen. So, if Ernie just taught the letter D, you can reiterate this later when you are having dinner or spending time with your child.
  • Create tech-free zones. Keep family mealtimes, other family and social gatherings, and children’s bedrooms screen free. Turn off televisions that you aren’t watching, because background TV can get in the way of face-to-face time with kids. Recharge devices overnight—outside your child bedroom to help avoid the temptation to use them when they should be sleeping. These changes encourage more family time, healthier eating habits, and better sleep.
  • Don’t use technology as an emotional pacifier. Media can be very effective in keeping kids calm and quiet, but it should not be the only way they learn to calm down. Children need to be taught how to identify and handle strong emotions, come up with activities to manage boredom, or calm down through breathing, talking about ways to solve the problem, and finding other strategies for channeling emotions.
  • Apps for kids – do your homework. More than 80,000 apps are labeled as educational, but little research has demonstrated their actual quality. Products pitched as “interactive” should require more than “pushing and swiping.” Look to organizations like Common Sense Media (www.commonsensemedia.org) for reviews about age-appropriate apps, games and programs to guide you in making the best choices for your children.
  • It’s OK for your teen to be online. Online relationships are part of typical adolescent development. Social media can support teens as they explore and discover more about themselves and their place in the grown-up world. Just be sure your teen is behaving appropriately in both the real and online worlds. Many teens need to be reminded that a platform’s privacy settings do not make things actually “private” and that images, thoughts, and behaviors teens share online will instantly become a part of their digital footprint indefinitely. Keep lines of communication open and let them know you’re there if they have questions or concerns.
  • Warn children about the importance of privacy and the dangers of predators and sexting. Teens need to know that once content is shared with others, they will not be able to delete or remove it completely and includes texting of inappropriate pictures. They may also not know about or choose not to use privacy settings, and they need to be warned that sex offenders often use social networking, chat rooms, e-mail, and online gaming to contact and exploit children.
  • Remember: Kids will be kids. Kids will make mistakes using media. Try to handle errors with empathy and turn a mistake into a teachable moment. But some indiscretions, such as sexting, bullying, or posting self-harm images, may be a red flag that hints at trouble ahead. Parents must observe carefully their children’s behaviors and, if needed, enlist supportive professional help, including the family pediatrician.

Media and digital devices are an integral part of our world today. The benefits of these devices, if used moderately and appropriately, can be great. But, research has shown that face-to-face time with family, friends, and teachers plays a pivotal and even more important role in promoting children’s learning and healthy development. Keep the face-to-face up front, and don’t let it get lost behind a stream of media and tech.

Children and Media – Tips for Parents was written from two AAP policies, “Media Use in School-Aged Children and Adolescents” and “Media and Young Minds,” and the technical report entitled “Children and Adolescents and Digital Media,” which were published in the November 2016 edition of Pediatrics. They were also drawn from the proceedings of the AAP Sponsored Growing Up Digital: Media Research Symposium, a gathering of media experts, researchers and pediatricians held in 2015 to address new developments in research and media and their impact on children.

Foods for Sleep: A List of The Best and Worst Foods for Getting Sleep

bed_food

There are many tips and tricks that you can implement to help you get to sleep every night. Many of them come in the form of practicing good sleep hygiene, which are basic habits that one can apply to their nightly routines that promote getting great sleep at night. One of the most underrated sleep hygiene practices that really goes far in improving quality sleep is making the right dietary choices.

Almost everybody is aware of the value that eating certain foods is instrumental in our daily lives. Eating the right foods gives us the energy we need to complete tasks, strengthen our immune system against diseases, improve cognitive functions, heal wounds, repair bones and tissues, help our children grow big strong, and basically everything else we need to live happy, healthy, productive lives. But too often healthy eating is rarely thought about when it comes to sleep. Here we hope to shed light on the amazing benefits that food can have in helping you get to sleep, and stay asleep, so that you wake feeling refreshed the next day, every day. Here are the best and worst foods for getting sleep:

The Best Foods for Sleep

food_in_bed2

There are four main vitamins and minerals that can be found in food that aid in promoting sleep: tryptophan, magnesium, calcium, and B6. Some of these substances help the body produce melatonin, the hormone that is responsible for regulating your circadian rhythm (sleep/wake patterns). When you’re close to bedtime, melatonin production naturally increases to help you sleep. In the morning when you’re ready to wake up, melatonin production tapers off to allow you to be awake and alert for the day.

Some foods are naturally packed with these essential vitamins and minerals, and eating certain foods at certain times can help you tip the scales towards a successful night of quality sleep. Most of these are available as over-the-counter supplements, but like with most supplements, it’s better to get them from the foods you eat.

Tryptophan

Tryptophan is an amino acid that when ingested gets turned into the neurotransmitter serotonin and then converted into the hormone melatonin. Here are some some of the best foods loaded with tryptophan:

  • Dairy products (milk, low-fat yogurt, cheese)
  • Poultry (turkey, chicken)
  • Seafood (shrimp, salmon, halibut, tuna, sardines, cod)
  • Nuts and seeds (flax, sesame, pumpkin, sunflower, cashews, peanuts, almonds, walnuts)
  • Legumes (kidney beans, lima beans, black beans split peas, chickpeas)
  • Fruits (apples, bananas, peaches, avocado)
  • Vegetables (spinach, broccoli, turnip greens, asparagus, onions, seaweed)
  • Grains (wheat, rice, barley, corn, oats)

Magnesium

Magnesium is a powerful mineral that is instrumental in sleep and is a natural relaxant that helps deactivate adrenaline. A lack of magnesium can be directly linked to difficulty going and staying asleep. Magnesium is often referred to as the sleep mineral. Excellent sources of magnesium are:

magnesium and sleep

  • Dark leafy greens (baby spinach, kale, collard greens)
  • Nuts and seeds (almonds, sunflower seeds, brazil nuts, cashews, pine nuts, flaxseed, pecans)
  • Wheat germ
  • Fish (salmon, halibut, tuna, mackerel)
  • Soybeans
  • Banana
  • Avocados
  • Low-fat yogurt

Calcium

Calcium is another mineral that helps the brain make melatonin. A lack of calcium can cause you to wake up in the middle of the night and have difficulty returning to sleep. Calcium rich diets have been shown to help patients with insomnia. Dairy products that contain both tryptophan and calcium are among the best sleep inducers. Sources of calcium include:

calcium and sleep

  • Dark leafy greens
  • Low-fat milk
  • Cheeses
  • Yogurt
  • Sardines
  • Fortified cereals
  • Soybeans
  • Fortified orange juice
  • Enriched breads and grains
  • Green snap peas
  • Okra
  • Broccoli

Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 also helps convert tryptophan into melatonin. A deficiency in B6 has been linked with lowered serotonin levels and poor sleep. A deficiency in B6 is also linked to symptoms of depression and mood disorders which can lead to insomnia. Highest sources of B6 are:

b6 and sleep

  • Sunflower seeds
  • Pistachio nuts
  • Flaxseed
  • Fish (tuna, salmon, halibut)
  • Meat (chicken, tuna, lean pork, lean beef,)
  • Dried Prunes
  • Bananas
  • Avocado
  • Spinach

Melatonin

Many of the vitamins and minerals that are on this list are there because they help aid in the production of turning serotonin into melatonin. However, there are a few excellent sources of naturally occuring melatonin in foods:

  • Fruits and vegetables (tart cherries, corn, asparagus, tomatoes, pomegranate, olives, grapes, broccoli, cucumber)
  • Grains (rice, barley, rolled oats)
  • Nuts and Seeds (walnuts, peanuts, sunflower seeds, mustard seeds, flaxseed)

Drinks that are great for sleep

It’s not just foods that are great for sleep. Many drinks contain essential vitamins and minerals that help aid with sleep. A few of the ones to try are:

tea for sleep

  • Warm milk
  • Almond milk
  • Valerian tea
  • Chamomile tea
  • Tart cherry juice
  • Passion fruit tea
  • Peppermint tea

The Worst Foods for Sleep

Just as there are foods and drinks that help promote sleep, there are also foods to avoid that can rob you of sleep. Many of the foods to avoid on this list are healthy for you to eat, but just not recommended to eat before bed because they can interfere with sleep. Some of them are:

  • Foods and drinks that contain caffeine. Drinks containing caffeine such as coffee and green tea, or even energy drinks like Monster or Red Bull can really help you if you’re feeling tired and just need a little pick-me-up to get the day going. However, it’s not recommended to drink caffeine after lunch (and especially near bedtime), as it can interfere with sleep by keeping your mind overactive. Foods with dark chocolate are also high in caffeine and should be avoided late in the day.
  • Spicy foods. While spicy foods are often delicious and even have many noted health benefits, eating spicy foods too close to bedtime can be a very bad idea. Spicy foods are notorious for causing heartburn, indigestion, and acid reflux. Heartburn can be made worse while lying down as it allows the acids to creep up into the esophagus and burn the sensitive lining.
  • Alcohol. Contrary to popular belief alcohol does not help promote sleep. While it can make you drowsy and more likely to fall asleep faster, it often disrupts sleep and can deter you from entering the deeper, much needed phases of the sleep cycles.
  • Foods high in fat have been linked to poor, fragmented sleep. Fat triggers the digestive processes and causes a build up of stomach acids, which while lying down can creep into the esophagus causing discomfort. A high fat diet also messes with the production of orexin, one of the neurotransmitters that helps regulate your sleep/wake cycle along with melatonin.
  • Foods high in protein can also disrupt sleep when eaten too close to bedtime. Protein is tougher for the digestive system to break down. Eating protein rich meals near bedtime causes the body to spend more time working on digestion rather than focusing on sleeping.
  • Foods containing water such as watermelon and celery are natural diuretics which help push water through your system. Eating these types of foods and drinking anything too close to bedtime can cause you to lose sleep from middle of the night bathroom trips.
  • Heavy meals before bedtime. As with most things in life, moderation is the key. Even eating too much of the recommended foods before bed can cause you to lose sleep because your body is focused on digestion. If you find yourself hungry before bed, a light snack is recommended. The best light snacks are those that contain tryptophan and calcium such as a bowl of cereal, cheese and crackers, or peanut butter on toast.

If you’re following these eating tips and other sleep hygiene practices, but still find yourself having trouble sleeping at night, there’s a chance that you could be suffering from a sleep disorder. If you’re regularly having sleep troubles you might want to consult with your primary care physician or contact a sleep center to get to the root of the problem. And if you live in Alaska and want help from the best sleep experts in the state, click on the link below for a free 10-minute phone consultation, and we can help get you started down the road to better sleep.

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