An elegy for giant medical conventions

The annual meeting of my profession’s national society last fall may have been the last old-school, convention-size, professional meeting I will ever attend. I could be wrong, but it may mark the end of an era. Disruptive change to the convention business model was inevitable, though hastened by COVID-19. This year, the leadership of many […]

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Blog Theme: Getting History Right – Interview with Michael Coulter

Fact checking David Barton was not my first history rodeo. With the help of then Grove City College history professor J.D. Wyneken, I fact checked anti-gay crusader Scott Lively’s book The Pink Swastika in June of 2009. Lively made an outrageous case that Hitler’s Nazi project was animated by homosexuals and that the Holocaust was carried out by gay thugs. His opposition to gay rights, he preached, was to keep gays from doing the same things to other nations.

I learned a lot by deeply researching Lively’s claims. I saw how primary sources could be used selectively to distort a narrative and how speculation could be mixed with fact to create a plausible sounding but false picture. This awareness came in handy when, in 2011, I started to look into Barton’s claims about the American founding.

When David Barton’s book The Jefferson Lies was pulled from publication, he solicited moral support from Scott Lively in a Wallbuilders Live broadcast. Lively’s message essentially was: I know how you feel, he did the same thing to me.

It seems right that I fact checked both Lively and Barton. Lively had gone to Uganda with his historical fiction to agitate the Uganda Parliament into crafting law which made homosexuality a capital offense. An interpretation of the Bible was used as a justification. A religious view was used as a basis for civil law. On that issue, one church teaching was about to become the state policy.

Confronted with the reality that evangelical Christians were behind the bill in Uganda, I searched for the influences on them. There were many and we will hear from Jeff Sharlet next week who will help us remember the influence of the Fellowship Foundation. Extending beyond the Fellowship was the notion that civil policy should reflect Christianity because that is the proper basis for law in a Christian nation. Ugandan legislators saw themselves as lawmakers in a Christian nation.

But who in the U.S. was behind the idea that church and state is not separate? All roads led me back to David Barton.  At that point, I started to check out the fact claims that Barton said led him to question church-state separation. The rest, as they say, is history.

Part of that history involved writing the book Getting Jefferson Right: Fact Check Claim about Our Third President My co-author on that project is Michael Coulter. Michael is a professor of political science and humanities at Grove City College and a good friend. As we discuss in the interview below, I requested a pre-publication copy of The Jefferson Lies in February 2012. Somewhere in our McDonalds discussions, I asked Michael to join me as co-author and we had the ebook ready to go by May 1. A paperback followed in July and by August, The Jefferson Lies had been pulled from publication by Thomas Nelson.

In this interview, we discuss more about Getting Jefferson Right, but also get into why people would rather believe fiction over truth, the requirement of honesty from scholars, and how Christian nationalism influences attitudes towards political matters today. I hope you profit from it.

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4 Ways Lockdown Changed Sleep, for Better and Worse—and What to do Next

Since the earliest days of the coronavirus, scientists have been furiously at work studying its characteristics, searching for treatments and ultimately a vaccine, and investigating its effects—including on sleep. There’s been research that suggests melatonin might have some protective benefits, helping to mitigate the severity of Covid-19 ( in animal models). Researchers are examining the effects of social isolation, economic upheaval, stress and uncertainty on our nightly rest. 

We’re (mostly) on the other side of a months-long lockdown, and scientific research has begun to reveal ways that broad social quarantine has affected our sleep. This won’t be the last we learn about the effects of this unprecedented global upheaval on sleep. But research now begins to point to specific sleep challenges—and some silver linings around sleep in the age of coronavirus. 

Here are 4 things we’ve learned so far about what’s happened to our sleep since lockdown, with some advice about how to put this information to work for your sleep, going forward.

Some of us are getting more sleep since lockdown 

That’s one of the takeaways from two just-released (and separate) studies, both published in the journal Current Biology. These studies contain several interesting findings which I’ll talk about. 

One study by scientists at the University of Boulder analyzed the sleep of a group of 139 university students, comparing data collected about their sleep before lockdown to new data collected after lockdown, when students left campus and classes went virtual. Scientists found a large majority of these young adults sleeping more during lockdown than they had been before. Pre-lockdown, 84% said they were sleeping 7 or more hours a night. During lockdown, that number rose to 92%. Sleep in this group increased an average of 30 minutes during the weeknights, and 25 minutes on weekend nights. 

It’s noteworthy that this additional sleep didn’t involve going to bed earlier. The students actually went to bed LATER during lockdown, and got up later. This makes sense when you recognize that nearly all college-age adults are Wolves. Late bedtimes and wake times are right in sync with their bio rhythms. Some adults (like me) stay Wolves throughout their lives. Others, after the age of 25 or so, will shift to Lions, Bears, and Dolphins. 

What’s a WOLF? (Don’t know your bio type yet? Take my quiz here.) 

Another just-published study, conducted across 3 European nations, included more than 400 sleepers. This study also found people sleeping more at night than before stay-at-home became a reality for most of us. 

What next: If you’re a person whose sleep increased during lockdown, that’s great! There are a few important things for you to consider. 

Were you sleep deprived before lockdown and not aware of it? Odds are the answer to this question is YES. Many people are too busy and too stressed to assess their sleep accurately. A lot of us become quite used to the impact of sleep deprivation on our thinking, our emotions, our energy levels. Take some time to reflect on what’s different about your life with some additional sleep—and take that new awareness of sleep’s importance with you as you move forward. I just wrote about how most Americans are waking up exhausted. Sleep deprivation is most definitely NOT a problem that began for most of us in just the past few months. 

How is your sleep QUALITY? I’ll be talking about what scientists are learning of sleep quality during the pandemic in just a minute. The big takeaway to know is this: the benefits of more sleep can’t compensate for poor quality sleep. You need both sufficient amounts of sleep and sound, refreshing sleep to feel and function your best. 

Are you sleeping TOO MUCH? There is no single amount of sleep that’s right for everyone. But there is definitely such a thing as too much nightly snoozing. Oversleeping—the medical term is hypersomnia –can bring about real health consequences, as I’ve written about before

But wait…are we REALLY sleeping more since lockdown? 

Careful readers will have noticed that I said, “some of us are sleeping more since lockdown.” The reality is, we don’t have enough data to know where sleep amounts have been trending overall since the pandemic began. Plenty of anecdotal evidence suggests that some people are struggling with less sleep since lockdown. And there’s some preliminary research to back this up, including this recent study that included slightly more than 1,000 adult sleepers between the ages of 18-79. Among them, a very slight majority—53%–said they were sleeping less since lockdown orders went into effect in most parts of the US in March. 

I’m particularly interested in seeing how this breaks down by age and also gender. Individual lives have been very differently affected by the pandemic, and by lockdown and other social measures taken to address the virus. A 20-year old college student (see above) might have an easier time finding extra sleep time during lockdown than a middle-aged parent who’s homeschooling and working from home. A retired older adult might have their daily routine less affected than a millennial who’s gone from working in an office and socializing on the town. 

What next: If you’re among the people whose nightly sleep duration decreased during lockdown, keep in mind you’re not alone, and there’s no competition here—you’re not “losing” at sleeping during lockdown. But you are losing sleep that you need. To remedy this, start by looking in the areas where your life has changed the most since the pandemic started. Maybe you used to hit the gym after work. The absence of that late day exercise might be affecting your ability to sleep, so try taking a good long walk before dinner. Maybe your kids’ at-home-all-the-time schedule have you folding laundry at 11:30 p.m., when you used to be sleeping peacefully. Get the kids to help—or let the laundry sit until the next day. Same applies to all the chores that lead you to stay up past your optimal bedtime. If your routines haven’t changed much but your sleep has, take a close look at your stress. Here’s what I wrote recently about how stress and sleep are related. If lockdown added a whole bunch of new or different responsibilities to your day, too many to identify just one, then think about what one or two responsibilities you can remove from your plate, in order to allow more time for sleep. You’ll get more done, faster, when you’re rested. 

The quality of sleep has taken a nosedive 

Recall I mentioned above how you can’t have just plentiful sleep—it must also be high-quality sleep? Here’s the flipside of the news about people sleeping more during lockdown. It appears that even among people who started getting more sleep during the weeks and months of stay-at-home, their sleep quality suffered. Some of the same recent studies that showed increased sleep duration showed a decline in the quality of sleep. This investigation of a European population found that sleep quality grew worse during lockdown, with more people having problems falling asleep and staying asleep through the night. And while a small majority of people reported their sleep duration has increased, a much larger majority of people in this study reported that their sleep quality was better before lockdown began

There are several reasons why sleep quality might have been compromised during lockdown, and might still be a challenge: 

Stress. No surprise here. There’s been a massive uptick in stress over the past several months. Increased stress is almost certain to interfere with sleep. Here’s my recent article on how stress and sleep interact, and ways you can reduce stress to improve sleep. 

Lack of exercise. Most people I know—my friends, my patients, my colleagues—try hard to stay fit and physically active. So many exercise routines got put on pause during lockdown, and you might not have found your footing again yet. Missing out on exercise will diminish sleep quality—and you’re especially prone to feel this if you’d been working out regularly before lockdown and had to stop suddenly. 

Changes to diet. They don’t call it eating your feelings for nothing. Stress and emotional upheaval can change appetite and send us running for the starchy, sugary foods that comfort us (thanks, in part, to their triggering of spikes in the calming, feel-good hormone serotonin). Those same foods are likely to contribute to restless, less refreshing sleep. This is especially true if you’re eating lots of these foods AND eating them at night, close to bedtime. Here are food mistakes that can really undermine your bedtime routine—and here’s why scheduling time for daily, intermittent fasting may help your waistline and your nightly rest

Bad dreams and nightmares. Quaren-dreaming was a real phenomenon—and may still be for many people. Early on in the pandemic, we saw studies showing significant rise in nightmares and stress dreams. Active, intense, disruptive dreaming will interfere with how well you rest at night. 

What next: A few important steps everyone can take. First, bring your awareness to your sleep, and do a real, honest inventory of how it’s going. Include your daytime energy, mood, and degree of fatigue in that assessment. Just because you don’t remember waking up throughout the night doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. Your daytime functioning is an important blueprint for sleep quality. 

You’re likely to find at least one if not several causes for your poor sleep on this list I’ve given you, above. Identify the triggers that have created new sleep problems—or, as is likely the case for many people, exacerbated sleep problems that already existed, pre-lockdown. If your own adjustments and attention don’t bring about improvements after a few weeks, reach out to your physician for guidance and consider working directly with a sleep specialist. 

Sleep schedules may be more routine than before 

There’s some preliminary research that suggests lockdown may have increased the consistency of sleep schedules. Those college students from the UC Boulder study? They not only reported getting more sleep, they also reported sleeping on more regular schedules than before lockdown. (Remember, they went to bed later and got up later. I’ll come back to this in a minute.) Something similar was true for the pan-European group of sleepers who were recently studied. They also were found to be sleeping on more regular schedules, in addition to be sleeping more overall. What’s happening here? Seems pretty clear that lockdown freed many people from social jetlag—the fatigue and sleep deprivation that results from a mismatch between a person’s individual optimal sleep-wake schedule and the schedule that society demands us to adhere to. Lockdown brought about a suspension of those society-wide schedules for most people, and offered more flexibility in daily routines. 

It makes perfect sense to me that this would lead directly to a more consistent sleep schedule. That’s because with newfound flexibility, many people will have naturally gravitated toward sleeping more in line with their bio rhythms—like those college students who went to bed later and got up later during lockdown. Wolves prefer late nights and are averse to early mornings. I’ll bet there are Lions out there who are going to bed before its dark outside during these long, June days! 

Consistency is the cornerstone of a healthy sleep routine. The more regular your sleep schedule, the easier you’ll fall sleep, and the sounder your sleep will be. (Less waking up restlessly during the night.) You’ll be sharper and have more energy for all you need to do during the day. And you’ll be reinforcing the same bio rhythms that keep your sleep-wake schedule on track and keep your body functioning at its best. 

What next: Lean into your chronotype right now, and for the long haul (www.chronoquiz.com). If your sleep schedule has become more routine, that’s great. Put effort and attention toward maintaining this new schedule as your routines continue to evolve and change. And don’t stop with sleep schedules. Your chronotype can point you toward the optimal times to do just about everything, from leading a team meeting to going for a run to having sex. I wrote about how we can use our bio types to minimize disruption and maximize health and performance during these uncertain times. 

Sweet Dreams, 

Michael J. Breus, PhD, DABSM

The Sleep Doctor™

www.thesleepdoctor.com

The post 4 Ways Lockdown Changed Sleep, for Better and Worse—and What to do Next appeared first on Your Guide to Better Sleep.

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Do not underestimate the power of spending an extra minute with a patient and family member

One aspect of medicine that anyone who reads my work knows I’m most passionate about is keeping excellent communication at the core of health care. It’s a vastly under-taught skill, and although medical schools are certainly getting a lot better at teaching the fundamentals than they were a few years ago, there’s still nowhere enough […]

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Dear interns: We have your backs

Every July, the same tired “new interns: be scared to go to the hospital” memes and jokes appear. I disagree. I believe that July is as safe as any other month to go to the hospital. July should be celebrated. Medical students and resident physicians are the lifeblood of our profession. Clinical physicians have never […]

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Advice for new interns: How to earn respect the right way

July is a very special time of year in the medical community. We welcome thousands of newly minted physicians donning their spotless white coats and nervous smiles as they begin what will be one of the most difficult but also most rewarding and exciting times of their lives. Reflecting back on that first day as […]

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The key to success as an intern is to be a great teammate

Many people wonder what it’s like to be an intern and how to succeed during your first year as a physician. Is it really as bad as everyone makes it out to be? Are you able to sleep without constantly thinking about your patients and the diagnoses that you may have missed? Were you compassionate […]

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Happy Blog Anniversary to Me #15

Fifteen years ago tomorrow, I started this blog with these words:

This is a test, nothing but a test. A test of your routine blogcasting network.

I didn’t know what I was doing, but with the encouragement of a former pastor Byron Harvey, I launched into the wild world of blogging. I started out on the old Blogspot platform and then moved to WordPress in 2006. I moved from there to Patheos in 2013, just in time to cover the demise of Mars Hill Church and Gospel for Asia. When Patheos decided I was too hot to handle, I moved really quickly back to this independent format on WordPress. Since 2005, I have written 5,010 posts according to WordPress backroom counter.

To celebrate, tomorrow I start a series of blogcast video interviews with people who are associated with topics I have covered over 15 years. I started out writing about sexual orientation therapy and research. Then the Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Bill became a cause and international story in 2009. I started writing about and debunking David Barton’s and other historical claims in 2011. In late 2013, I took up the demise of Mars Hill Church and followed that until it closed in 2014. In 2015, I started writing about Gospel for Asia. Now I write about evangelical misadventures, debunk fake quotes,  and examine a little bit of anything touching on the topics I have covered from the beginning.

I think some readers will be surprised at some of the people I interview, but they all will be worth tuning in to hear. These will be taped, last about an hour and posted about once a week over the next couple of months. Tomorrow I start with an interview of Michael Coulter, my co-author of Getting Jefferson Right.

I am pretty sure there are some readers who have been here since the beginning. In any case, let me know when you started reading and what topic(s) brought/keep you here.

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Gambling Addiction within Social Groups

Addiction is a problem, one which affects millions of people all around the world. We are in a constant fight with compulsive issues. Contrary to what you’ve heard, addictions aren’t limited to the physical substances. Apart from drugs and alcohol, there are other forms of addiction, and gambling is one of them. When abstract obsessions are ignored and taken care of, it spirals down into something more devastating.

Though gambling addiction is no respecter of anyone, regardless of their gender, social status, or age, some social groups are vulnerable and are at a higher risk of developing gambling addiction or displaying pathological gambling behavior. Recognizing who might be at risk can help you improve healthy gambling awareness, and you can be a part of it.

With the clear, here are some interesting facts about gambling addiction and those who are most vulnerable to the addiction.

Problem gamblers suffer mental problems.

Mental illness is a severe condition, and there is a link between gambling addiction and mental illness. Sometimes, compulsive gambling is the cause of mental illness. It can also be as a result of psychological condition that has gone on for years and left untreated. Two common mental illnesses are linked to gambling addiction; they are anxiety and depression.

It is believed that for some people who suffer from these mental illnesses, playing cards, rolling dice, ad playing slots can put them in a relaxed state, act as a recreational activity or even be a form of escapism. We all know its futile to treat these games as forms of escapism. Over time, it leads to more anxiety and makes depression worse. Other mental illnesses associated with problem gambling include bipolar and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD.

Most gamblers are alcoholics

People who suffer from gambling addictions tend to struggle with other forms of substance abuse, including nicotine and alcohol – these are the two commonly abused substances. Interestingly, studies have also found that those who compulsively gamble have problems with alcohol.

According to a report published in 2013 from the Royal College of Psychiatrists and Alcohol Concern Cymru in Wales, one in six survey respondents acknowledged that they rely heavily on alcohol. They also admitted to being compulsive gamblers.

Problem gambling is becoming popular among teenagers

UK Gambling Commission (UK’s gambling regulator) once published a report stating that over 2 million people living in the UK are at risk of gambling addiction or problem gamblers. What’s more frightening is the underage gambling research, which was published in PlayOJO’s “Play Responsibly” guide. It reveals that a 2016 report from UKs Gambling Commission showed that 450 000 children are gambling in Wales and England weekly.

That’s not all; the same report also found that at least 9 000 of the 450 000 children are suspected to be gambling addicts. But what’s the cause of this? What could be the reason for this increase in underage problem gambling? The answer is not farfetched; no thanks to the new and improved gambling technology. It is believed that technological evolution has been more of a curse than it is, a blessing. Technology has made it easier for young people to access gambling platforms. It’s a cause for concern, and researchers strongly believe that gambling at a young age can lead to more gambling activities once they reach adulthood.

Note that even though there are specific individuals who may be vulnerable to this abstract and unhealthy behavior than others, but this doesn’t mean that they are the only susceptible victims in the picture. All things bee equal; anyone can become an addict. This is why anyone must ensure that they do so legally at legal and socially responsible gambling firms while maintaining their mental frames.

Gambling – men vs women

They are studying both genders, who, amongst the two, are likely to become a gambling addict? The chances of a man becoming a problem gambler are higher compared to a woman. According to a stat published in 2015 in the UK, men are 7.5 times more likely to be classified as a gambling addict compared to women. One of the main reasons highlighted by the result of this study is that men’s personality traits tend to make them more predisposed to compulsive gambling. Men take higher risks and are more impulsive compared to their female counterparts.

Men also have a higher rate of gambling addiction compared to women. Meanwhile, the price of compulsive gambling amongst women is increasing dramatically. Did you know that women make one-third of all problem gamblers and their gambling addiction symptoms tend to grow quicker than their male counterparts?

Compulsive gambling in adults

Gambling addiction in adults is prevalent among adults than underage gambling. The main reason for this is the relative increase in financial stability during this stage of our life as well as a law backing gambling at this age. It is also a dangerous phase of our lives as far as gaming is concerned, as all compulsive gambling signs maybe just having fun. These signs may be ignored, making it easy for a person to use it as a form of distraction. But, when you start to hide your gambling activities from your loved ones, experiencing guilt after a poker game are vital signs of problem gambling.

Conclusion

Our goal is to improve life for those struggling with gambling addiction with fact-based content and professional services. Gambling addiction treatments are numerous, and we tend to take into cognizance the outpatient therapy, the mutual aid groups, and the inpatient treatment facilities.

Finally, gambling addiction and suicidal thoughts ‘co-exist’ at a ridiculous rate. Comparing the prevalence of these issues have found the at least one out of five patients have been attended to, seen for suicidal ideation. These people with suicidal thoughts met the criteria for problem gambling. These are just some of the interesting facts about gambling addiction within social groups.

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15 commandments for teaching your kids about racism

1. Thou shalt first become comfortable with having uncomfortable conversations with thyself, before ever trying to have them with any other person. At this point in our earthly lives, we must — as a matter of urgency — get into that space of vulnerability and face our fears and insecurities. Dig deep to figure out […]

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