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Jim Liebelt Christian Blog and Commentary

Jim Liebelt

Senior Editor of Publications for HomeWord

*The following is excerpted from an online article from WBUR.

If you’re the parent of a school-age child, you are probably thinking about sleep these days. More specifically, you may be wondering how you will possibly get your child back on a sleep schedule for school after a summer of late nights and mornings sleeping in.

Here’s one tip, based on a recent study on sleep led by researchers at Brown University: Get rid of bright screens at night. Especially if your child is a young teen or tween.

The study, published online in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, found that children between the ages of 9 and 15 in the early stages of puberty were particularly sensitive to light at night compared to older teens.

Researchers conclude: “The increased sensitivity to light in younger adolescents suggests that exposure to evening light could be particularly disruptive to sleep regulation for this group.”

From the Brown news release:

In lab experiments, an hour of nighttime light exposure suppressed their production of the sleep-timing hormone melatonin significantly more than the same light exposure did for teens aged 11 to 16 who were farther into puberty.

The brighter the light in the experiments, the more melatonin was suppressed.

“Small amounts of light at night, such as light from screens, can be enough to affect sleep patterns,” said study senior author Mary Carskadon, professor of psychiatry and human behavior in the Alpert Medical School of Brown University and director of chronobiology and sleep research at the E.P. Bradley Hospital in East Providence, R.I. “Students who have tablets or TVs or computers — even an ‘old-school’ flashlight under the covers to read — are pushing their circadian clocks to a later timing. This makes it harder to go to sleep and wake up at times early the next morning for school.”

Source: WBUR

*The following is excerpted from an online article from USA Today.

U.S. college students today smoke weed at a higher rate than at any time in the past 35 years, surpassing daily cigarette smoking for the first time in 2014.

But students are into more than pot. The study also shows ecstasy and cocaine use are rising.

Those findings were revealed Tuesday in Monitoring the Future, an ongoing study from the Univ. of Michigan.

The national survey looked at the drug use of approximately 1,500 students enrolled full time at 2- and 4-year colleges.

“Daily or near-daily” marijuana use was reported by 5.9% of college students in 2014 — the highest rate since 1980, the first year that complete college data were available in the study.

That translates to one in every 17 college students who smoke marijuana at least 20 times each month.

“Most of what people hear today is what the benefits are,” Lloyd Johnston, the principal investigator of the study, tells USA Today College. “Young adults are seeing marijuana as less dangerous.”

The Univ. of Michigan data also show that the percent using marijuana once or more in the prior 30 days in which the study was conducted rose from 17% in 2006 to 21% in 2014. Use in the prior 12 months rose from 30% in 2006 to 34% in 2014.

Ecstasy (MDMA, or Molly), had somewhat of a comeback in use among college students from 2007 through 2012, with past 12-month use more than doubling from 2.2%  in 2007 to 5.8% in 2012, before leveling, the study found. Previously, ecstasy had fallen from favor among college students.

Past-year use of cocaine showed a statistically significant increase from 2.7 % in 2013 to 4.4% in 2014.

Johnston says that this could be due in part to “generational forgetting” — or a younger generation not remembering, or not knowing about, any problematic issues associated with the drugs in the past.

Source: USA Today

*The following is excerpted from an online article from U.S. News & World Report.

A good mood is infectious among teens, but depression is not, a new study suggests.

Researchers looked at more than 2,000 American high school students to see how they influenced each others' moods. They found that a positive mood seems to spread through groups of teens, but having depressed friends doesn't increase a teen's risk of depression.

In fact, having plenty of friends in a good mood can halve the chances that a teen will develop depression over six to 12 months. Having a lot of happy friends can also double the likelihood of recovering from depression over the same time period, the researchers found.

However, the study could only show an association between happy friends and a lower risk of depression or a faster recovery from depression. It cannot prove a cause-and-effect relationship between these factors.

The study was published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

"We know social factors, for example living alone or having experienced abuse in childhood, influences whether someone becomes depressed. We also know that social support is important for recovery from depression, for example having people to talk to," study author Thomas House, a senior lecturer in applied mathematics at the University of Manchester in the U.K., said in a university news release.

"Our study is slightly different as it looks at the effect of being friends with people on whether you are likely to develop or recover from being depressed," he added.

These findings suggest that promoting friendships, through such activities as social clubs, might help guard against depression, House noted.

Source: U.S. News & World Report