Thursday, August 05, 2010

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ARE WE AWAKE TO THE IMPORTANCE OF SLEEP? Research presented at the SLEEP 2010 Meeting compared 2 high schools with similar racial and income demographics - one school started at 7:20 a.m. and the other at 8:40 a.m. Using DMV data, researchers found that the car crash rate for 16- to 18-year-olds was 41% higher in the city whose school started 80 minutes earlier. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found teen car crashes decreased 16.5% after a school district started school 1 hour later. This isn't proof that sleep deprivation affects teen crashes, but it's information schools and parents should "sleep on". Work shifts affect sleep patterns. Researchers at Washington State University used mathematical models to study start times of 8-hour shifts. Workers get the most sleep if their jobs start between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. and they get the least sleep if their jobs start between 8 p.m. and midnight. Workers whose jobs start at 11 p.m. get the very least sleep. That's the start time that will leave them most fatigued - more fatigued than if they started work after midnight. Maybe that's why "workday" is in the dictionary, but "worknight" isn't. Whatever the cause, difficulty sleeping has been linked to weight gain. In a study published in the International Journal of Obesity, Finnish researchers followed 7,332 40- to 60-year olds for 7 years. Those having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep at least 14 nights in the previous month were classified as having frequent sleep problems. One-third of the women with frequent sleep problems gained at least 11 pounds during the study versus one-fifth of the women without sleep problems. However, sleep-related weight gain affected only middle-aged and older women - not men - which might make more women lose sleep. The Travelodge hotels in the U.K. are doing their part to deal with sleep deprivation by making it easier for their guests to sleep. Each hotel has specially trained staff, who monitor nighttime noise levels in hallways and public areas. "Sleep Wardens" issue warnings to noisy guests. If the noise doesn't stop, the Sleep Wardens can tell the offending guests to check out. Because Travelodge hotels don't offer upscale services, the company considers itself a "retailer of sleep". According to their survey of 6,000 adults, money worries, work-related stress and noise are the major causes of sleep deprivation. Their Sleep Wardens are peace - and quiet - officers.
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IS IT GETTING HARDER TO RAISE CHILDREN? According to a government estimate, it will cost approximately $222,360 for middle-income, 2-parent families to raise babies born in 2009. Housing represents 31% of the cost; childcare and education, 17%; and food, 16%. As children get older, the annual cost increases from less than $12,000 for babies to more than $13,000 for teenagers. Where children are raised also affects the cost. Rural areas are the cheapest and the Northeast is the most expensive. However, the cost per child for a 2-child family is 25% less than the cost for a 1-child family if parents "compair". Irregardless of family size, children eat too many sugary snacks. According to a study published in the journal Pediatrics, they're influenced by cartoon characters on the packaging. Of the 40 children ages 4-6, most chose gummy fruit, graham crackers and carrots labeled with cartoon stickers. They also said the snacks with cartoon characters tasted better - except the carrots. Labeling foods with toys, characters and celebrities grew 78% from 2006 to 2008, but only 18% of the foods met children's nutritional standards. Considering about two-thirds of the promotions came from manufacturers who'd pledged to limit marketing to children, using cartoon characters is "funny business". Children watch too much television. A study of approximately 7,000 families also published in the journal Pediatrics found that 25% of children spend more than 2 hours a day watching television or playing video games, that television time increases with age and that boys watch more television than girls. The recommended television limit for children is less than 2 hours a day and no television for children under 2. However, less than 50% of parents of children 9-15 regularly limited television. In fact, 25% of parents thought the limit was 3 hours or more. Most children would think it was even more than that. Finally, children play too many video games. Another study published in the journal Pediatrics followed more than 1,300 children in grades 3-5 for over a year. Parents and their children were asked to estimate how many hours the children spent weekly on video games and television. Then the children's attention spans were assessed by their teachers. According to the study, elementary school children who played video games more than 2 hours daily were 67% likelier to have attention problems in school. It seems turning off both television and video games is the way to turn on education.

Knight Pierce Hirst

I may be the only writer who has moved to Los Angeles for the weather.

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