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Even Thinking about Nearby Smartphones or Tablets May Disrupt Kids' Sleep

Two thirds of teens leave a device on while sleeping in bed at night
by Kathryn Doyle
November 2, 2016
Reuters Health - 

Children and teens with access to tablets and smartphones at night don't get enough sleep and are sleepier during the day, whether or not they use the devices, according to a new review.
The review of 20 previous studies found kids using portable media devices around bedtime were more than twice as likely as kids who didn't use them to have short sleep times, but so were kids who had access to such devices at night but didn't use them.
"A lot of people argue that it's the device light emission that leads to sleep outcomes, but even if you're not using it, even having the presence of the device near you affects sleep," said lead author Ben Carter of King's College London.
"My personal view is it's due to continuous stimulation from things like social media engagement," and that there may be a similar relationship with adults, Carter told Reuters Health.
"Your social group is active and you can be thinking about it," he said. "If I text a loved one an hour before bed then I'm hoping I might get a reply."
The reviewers included studies of children aged 6 to 19 years that measured exposures to portable media like tablets and smartphones, but excluded studies that looked at television, personal computers or sources of electromagnetic radiation. In total, the included studies covered more than 125,000 children.
Bedtime media device use was consistently linked to difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep and poor daytime function due to sleepiness. Bedtime device use was also tied to insufficient sleep times of less than 10 hours per night for children and less than nine hours for teens.
Kids with bedtime access to these devices at least three times a week around bedtime, or with a device in the sleep environment, also had poorer measures of sleep quality and quantity than kids with less or no access, according to the results in JAMA Pediatrics, October 31st.
"It's normal to wake up during the night but when the phone is there, many people instead of just turning over will tap on the phone ostensibly to check the time, will see 15 text messages from their buddy or whatever, then 2 hours later they're going back to bed," said Dr. Charles Czeisler, director of the Sleep Health Institute and chief of the Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.
"It's very engaging technology and when it's present in the bedroom it reduces sleep duration," said Czeisler, who coauthored an editorial alongside the review.
Two-thirds of teens leave a device on while sleeping in bed at night, and turning the device off or moving it to another room can make a big difference, he told Reuters Health.
"Device use is ubiquitous and they are hugely beneficial in some cases," Carter said. "However we need to recognize that there are negative consequences of some device use."
Some devices can be programmed to switch off at a certain hour, which Carter would strongly encourage, he said.
Poor sleep has been tied to many health outcomes, among them dementia, Carter noted. "Sleep is an exposure that we take for granted, is free and we don't take enough notice of it."
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Gluten Free Recipe: Sour Cream Balsamic Sweet Potatoes 
Serves 6
3 to 4 pounds sweet potatoes (4 to 5 medium potatoes), baked and peeled
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Mash the still-warm sweet potatoes until smooth in a large bowl. Add the brown sugar, sour cream, vinegar, and salt. Stir to combine. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Recipe Notes

  • Make ahead: The sweet potatoes can be baked up to 5 days in advance and stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator. Peel and mash the potatoes, then reheat over medium-low heat on the stovetop when ready to finish and serve.
  • Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
Did You Know?
SIRRI offers these services
for both children & adults:
  • Neurofeedback & Biofeedback
  • QEEG / Brain Mapping
  • Cognitive Retraining: memory, processing & problem solving skills
  • Attention, Concentration & Focus Training
  • Auditory & Visual Processing
  • Reading Development: fluency & comprehension
  • Balance, Coordination & Motor Planning Development
  • Stress & Anxiety Management
  • Peak/Optimal Performance
Upcoming Session Dates for
The Sensory Learning Program:
Monday, December 5
Friday, December 16
Friday, December 16
Wednesday, December 28
Monday, January 16
Friday, January 27
Pediatricians update digital media recommendations for kids
 October 21, 2016
University of Michigan Health System
It's not so bad to hand your child an iPad once in a while depending on how it's used. Playing a game together or Skyping with Grandma? That's OK. Helping your little one calm down or trying to keep peace in the house? Not so much.
New guidelines announced by the American Academy of Pediatrics today say parents not only need to pay attention to the amount of time children spend on digital media -- but also how, when and where they use it.
For children ages 2 to 5, media should be limited to one hour a day, the statement says, and it should involve high-quality programming or something parents and kids can view or engage with together. With the exception of video-chatting, digital media should also be avoided in children younger than 18 months old.
"Digital media has become an inevitable part of childhood for many infants, toddlers and preschoolers, but research is limited on how this affects their development," says one of the lead authors of the statement Jenny Radesky, M.D., a developmental behavioral expert and pediatrician at University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital.
Radesky coauthored the statement for children ages 0-5 with Dimitri A. Christakis, M.D., M.P.H., of Seattle Children's Hospital. The AAP also put out a separate policy statement the same day for older kids (ages 6 to teenage).
"In children over three, the research is solid: high-quality programs like Sesame Street can teach kids new ideas. However, under three, toddlers' immature brains have a hard time transferring what they see on a screen to real-life knowledge," Radesky says. "We don't yet know if interactivity helps or hinders that process."
"What we do know is that early childhood is a time of rapid brain development, when children need time to play, sleep, learn to handle emotions, and build relationships. Research still suggests that excessive media use can get in the way of these important activities. Our statement highlights ways families and pediatricians can help manage a healthy balance."
Why limit screen time
Too much time using digital media in the wrong way is linked to children's quality of sleep, child development and physical health, the statement notes. (Heavy media use in preschool is associated with small but significant increases in body mass index.)
The guidelines recommend banning digital media use an hour before bed, turning off devices when not in use and keeping bedrooms, mealtimes and parent-child playtime screen free.
Although there are specific instances when using digital media as a soothing tool is helpful, such as on airplanes or during medical procedures, parents should also avoid using media as the only way to calm down children, authors note. Using devices as a common soothing strategy may limit children's ability to regulate their own emotions, Radesky says.
"We have to be realistic about the ubiquity of digital media use. It is becoming ingrained in our culture and daily life. For this reason, it is even more important that parents help their children understand the healthy ways to use media from the earliest ages," Radesky says.
"Videochatting with grandparents, watching science videos together, putting on streaming music and dancing together, looking up new recipes or craft ideas, taking pictures and videos to show each other, having a family movie night … these are just a few ways media can be used as a tool to support family connection," Radesky says.
Radesky notes that it is crucial that adults interact with children during use, to help young children apply what they're seeing on the screen to the world around them. Research shows that for the youngest children -- ages 18-36 months -- this is essential, she says.
Authors acknowledge that well-designed TV programs such as "Sesame Street" may help improve literacy and social outcomes for children ages 3 to 5. But many apps parents find under the "educational" category are not evidence based and include little input from developmental educators.
Parents may want to limit their own screen time, too, the authors say. Heavy parent use of mobile devices is associated with fewer verbal and nonverbal interaction between parents and children and may be associated with more parent-child conflict.
Pediatricians are also encouraged to help parents be "media mentors"- role models and guides for how to pick good digital content. Doctors have an opportunity to educate families about brain development in the early years and importance of hands on social play for language cognitive and social emotional skills. They can also guide parents to resources for finding quality products.
"Pediatricians have the opportunity to start conversations with parents early about family media use and habits,'" Radesky says. "We can help parents develop media use plans for their homes, set limits and encourage them to use devices with their children in a way that promotes enhanced learning and greater interaction."
The takeaways
Here's a breakdown of the new AAP guidelines for parents of children 0-5 years:
• Avoid digital media use (except video chatting) in children younger than 24 months.
• If digital media is introduced to children between 18 and 24 months, choose high-quality programming and use the media with your child. Avoid solo use by the child.
• Do not feel pressured to introduce technology early. Interfaces are so intuitive that children will figure them out quickly once they start using them.
• For children ages 2 to 5, limit screen use to one hour a day of high-quality programming. Watch with your child and help them understand what they are seeing.
• Avoid fast-paced programs and apps with lots of distracting content or violence.
• Turn off TVs and other devices when not in use
• Avoid using media as the only way to calm your child. This could lead to problems with limit setting and ability to self-sooth and regulate emotions.
• Test apps before your child uses them, and play together.
• Keep bedrooms, mealtimes and parent-child playtimes screen free. Parents can set a "do not disturb" option on their phones during these times.
• Set a rule: No screen time an hour before bed.
• Consult the American Academy of Pediatrics Family Media use plan. 
• Ask your pediatrician if you need help.
Journal Reference:
  1. Y. Reid Chassiakos, J. Radesky, D. Christakis, M. A. Moreno, C. Cross. Children and Adolescents and Digital Media. PEDIATRICS, 2016; 138 (5): e20162593 DOI: 10.1542/peds.2016-2593
University of Michigan Health System. "Pediatricians update digital media recommendations for kids." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 October 2016. <>.

10 fun facts we bet you didn't know about Thanksgiving

By Saeed Ahmed, CNN
When the guests around your Thanksgiving table are busy stuffing their bellies today, here's one way to break the lull in conversation: dazzle them with some tasty turkey trivia.
Here's 10 to get you started. We bet you they'll eat them up!
1. A tradition is born: TV dinners have Thanksgiving to thank. In 1953, someone at Swanson misjudged the number of frozen turkeys it would sell that Thanksgiving -- by 26 TONS! Some industrious soul came up with a brilliant plan: Why not slice up the meat and repackage with some trimmings on the side?Thus, the first TV dinner was born!
2. Going shopping?: Not if you're a plumber. Black Friday is the busiest day of the year for them, according to Roto-Rooter, the nation's largest plumbing service. After all, someone has to clean up after household guests who "overwhelm the system."
3. This land is my land: There are four places in the U.S. named Turkey. Louisiana's Turkey Creek is the most populous, with a whopping 440 residents. There's also Turkey, Texas; Turkey, North Carolina; and Turkey Creek, Arizona. Oh, let's not forget the two townships in Pennsylvania: the creatively named Upper Turkeyfoot and Lower Turkeyfoot!
4. Leaving a legacy: When Abe Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a national holiday, it was thanks to the tireless efforts of a magazine editor named Sarah Josepha Hale. Her other claim to fame? She also wrote the nursery rhyme, "Mary had a Little Lamb."
5. Gobble, gobble?: Not so fast. Only male turkeys, called toms, gobble. Females, called hens, cackle.
6. Have it your way: If Ben Franklin did, the turkey would be our national bird. An eagle, he wrote in a letter to his daughter, had "bad moral character." A turkey, on the other hand, was a "much more respectable bird."
7. Born in the U.S.A.: Thanksgiving is not just an American holiday. Canadians celebrate it too. Except they do it the second Monday in October.
8. Break out the menurkeys: The first day of Hanukkah and Thanksgiving came together once for the first time since 1888. Scientists say the confluence won't occur again for another 70,000 years, give or take a millennium.
9. Doomed from birth: Those poor turkeys; they don't stand a chance. Just look at the name we gave them. A turkey less than 12-weeks-old is called a fryer-roaster.
10. Talking turkey: Why is it called a turkey? Oh boy, this will take some explainin'. Back in the day, the Europeans took a liking to the guinea fowls imported to the continent. Since the birds were imported by Turkish merchants, the English called them turkeys. Later, when the Spaniards came to America, they found a bird that tasted like those guinea fowls. When they were sent to Europe, the English called these birds "turkeys" as well.


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