A Nap Sounds Like a Good Idea

Have you taken a NAP lately?  Your schedule might be so jam-packed that you think “there’s no way I have time for a nap!” but you may want to reconsider.

Prevention Magazine’s Jacqueline Parisi has looked at the research on afternoon naps and she says a nap may benefit your productivity levels by increasing alertness, creativity, recall, and memory in the second half of your day.


Also, a well-timed nap (right after lunch rather than in the late afternoon) can also help you recover after a sleep-deprived night.


Prevention’s article on naps quotes Ben Greenfield, the author of “Beyond Training: Mastering Endurance, Health, and Life.”

Greenfield offers this advice on getting the most out of an afternoon nap.

Don’t use your alarm clock unless you have to.  As you develop a healthy napping habit, your body will naturally wake up in 20 to 60 minutes. Also, jolting awake at the sound of your alarm gives you an unnatural injection of stressful adrenaline and cortisol.

Time your naps. Try to nap seven to eight hours after you wake up, you’re your mind is often the least alert.

Don’t drink coffee before your nap. Even a tiny amount of caffeine in your system can mess with your sleep quality.

Don’t exercise immediately before napping. Finish your workout at least 45 minutes before the start of your nap to get the best results.

Eat before your nap. If you’re hungry when you go down for a nap, odds are you are not going to sleep very well, so try napping right after lunch.

And stick to a schedule. If possible, nap at the same time every day. That way, your body will become accustomed the napping routine.

For more advice on napping, see Jaqueline’s article at Prevention.com.

I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM.

Listen to today’s audio here.

Why You Need to Talk to Your Kids About “Sexting”

Have you talked to your kids about “sexting?”  If not, perhaps it’s time to have that conversation.

Researchers from Drexel University surveyed college students about whether they had sent sexual text message during high school and they were startled by what they learned.

54% admitted to sending or receiving “sexually explicit text messages or images” when they were under the age of 18. Almost all of them said it was in the context of a romantic relationship or as a means of flirting.

Study author David DeMatteo says “We were shocked by the prevalence and the frequency of sexting among minors. We were struck by how many of those surveyed seem to think of sexting as a normal, standard way of interacting with their peers.”

Meanwhile, researchers at the University of Southern California found that teens who send more than 100 texts a day are more likely to sext and to be sexually active.  In addition, kids who receive sexual text messages are six times more likely to report being sexually active.

Eric Rice at the USC School of Social Work says “Our results show that excessive, unlimited or unmonitored texting seems to enable sexting.”

Dr. Rice recommends that parents openly monitor their young teen’s cellphone, check in with them about who they’re communicating with, and even restrict the number of texts allowed per month.

By the way, if you find it difficult to talk to your kids about sexuality, here are two resources you may find helpful.  Psychologist Dr. Stan Jones and his wife Brenna have written a wonderful series of books called “God’s Design for Sex.”  You can read the books with your kids, and there is a specific book for each age range.

Also, youth expert Jim Burns has an outstanding book just for teens called “The Purity Code: Gods Plan for Sex and Your Body.”

And don’t wait—if YOU don’t teach your kids about sex, someone else will!

I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM.

Listen to today’s audio here.

The Poop on Potty Training

Dear Dr. Bill,


I need some information on how to get our son potty-trained.  We’ve been trying since he turned two-years-old.  He seems afraid of sitting the regular toilet even though we try using a training seat for him.  He is just a bit over 2|1/2.  What should we do?




Dear George,


Potty training is a messy subject, but it’s something a lot of parents get stressed out about.  One of reasons for the stress is pressure from family and friends.


You should know that the AVERAGE age for mastering toilet training is three.  That’s just an average, which means a lot of kids are trained closer to two, while others don’t reach this milestone until age four.


The toddler who succeeds in potty training is the one who WANTS to be trained.  Kids forced into potty training before they’re ready may develop a negative attitude that will only delay success.  Here are a few signs that can help you figure out if your son is ready:


Does he know when he is about to go?  This awareness will help him get started.


Are his bowel movements predictable?  Don’t laugh…regularity can help you figure out the times of day when potty training attempts are most likely to succeed.


Does he want to wear “big boy” underwear?  This is a sign of wanting to be independent.  Underwear can also serve as a reward for your son’s interest in toilet training.


Can he pull his pants down and pull them back up by himself?  This is important skill…it allows for easy access when he feels the urge to go.


You can find more potty training advice at focusonthefamily.com.


Thanks for writing, George.

I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM.

Listen to today’s audio here.

Can Your Child’s Drawings Predict Their IQ Later in Life?

Can your child’s drawings predict his intelligence level later in life?  Researchers in England say “possibly.”


United Press International reports on a new study done at King’s College in London.  Researchers there followed 8,000 pairs of identical and non-identical twins over a period of 10 years.


When the kids in the study were 4-years-old, they were asked to draw a picture of a child.  Those same kids were given an IQ test 10 years later.


The study found that kids who drew more accurate and detailed pictures at 4 had higher scores on the IQ test at 14.


The quality of the 4-year-olds’ drawings was based on details, not how artistic they were.  The researchers looked to see if the kids had included features like a head, eyes, nose, mouth, ears, hair, body, arms and so on.

Dr. Rosalind Arden, the lead author of the study says: “The correlation is moderate, so our findings are interesting, but it does not mean that parents should worry if their child draws badly.”

Dr. Arden points out that drawing ability does not determine intelligence, and that there are numerous other factors, both genetic and environmental, which affect intelligence later in life.

By the way, the researchers also found the quality of drawings and intelligence were more closely linked in the identical twins than the fraternal twins, which seems to suggest a genetic component.

I have to admit, I was VERY relieved to hear that the quality of your drawing doesn’t indicate your level of intelligence.  Because when I draw pictures for my kids, they just look at me and say “what is that, Dad?”


I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM.

Listen to today’s audio here.

The Link Between What We Watch and What We Eat

There’s a link between what you watch and what you eat.

Most of us realize that snacking while watching TV isn’t a good idea, but it turns out that we’re more likely to binge on snacks when watching certain types of shows.

CBS News is reporting on a new study that found that people watching an action movie ate twice the amount of snacks as those watching an interview program.

The study at Cornell University involved college students who were split in three groups.

Each group was randomly assigned to watch either an excerpt from “The Island,” an action flick starring Scarlett Johansson; an identical excerpt from “The Island” but without the sound; or the interview program “The Charlie Rose Show.”

The subjects were provided with M&Ms, cookies, carrots and grapes to snack on while watching the shows. The researchers weighed the snacks before and after the experiment to see how much the people in each group had eaten.

Those who watched the action movie with sound on ate 206 grams of food — almost twice as much as those watching the interview program.

Interestingly, even the people who watched the action movie with no sound ate more than those who watched the interview show.

So what is it about action movies that makes viewers snack more?

Study author Aner Tal says “More stimulating programs that are fast paced and include many camera cuts, really draw you in and distract you from what you are eating. They can make you eat more because you’re paying less attention to how much you are putting in your mouth.”

So how can you avoid overeating during your favorite action movie? The researchers suggest pre-portioning your TV snacks, instead of bringing out a whole bag of chips or a box of cookies.

I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM.

Listen to today’s audio here.

Sleep Drunkenness

Could you be suffering from “sleep drunkenness?”

Researchers at Stanford University believe that as many as 1 in 7 adults suffer from a sleep condition known as confusional arousal or more commonly as “sleep drunkenness.”

According to science.blog,com, as many as 36 million Americans experience this potentially problematic sleep condition, in which they are awakened suddenly in a confused state and may be prone to inappropriate behavior, poor decision-making, or even violence.

Stanford psychiatrist and sleep expert Maurice Ohayon was surprised at the extent of the problem and particularly the length of time that people reported feeling confused and disoriented following a sudden awakening.

He told Science Blog “When you ask people, 60 percent said it lasted more than 5 minutes. And one third said it was 15 minutes or more. A lot of things can happen in that time.”

Dr. Ohayan noted that the 1979 Three Mile Island nuclear disaster, the worst nuclear incident in U.S. history, was made worse by poor decision-making on the part of an engineer who had been awakened suddenly from a nap.

He also cautioned that airline pilots, who may nap during a break, may not be fully efficient for 5 or 10 minutes after being awakened and should take their time before resuming control of an aircraft.

Among those who are most prone to confusional arousal are those with sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea or those who sleep less than 6 hours or more than 9 hours a night.  The researchers found it is also more common in people with certain psychiatric disorders, such as major depression, anxiety and alcohol dependence.

By the way, more than a third of the people in the study who experienced the problem reported having hallucinations, and 15 percent reported sleep-walking, sometimes accompanied by violent behavior toward the person who woke them up.

Yikes—I better make sure I don’t wake up my wife when she’s taking her Sunday afternoon nap!

I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM.

Listen to today’s audio here.

E-Cigs and Your Kids

There is more troubling news about “e-cigs.”

The American Heart Association says e-cigarettes should be subject to the same laws that apply to tobacco products, and that the federal government should ban the marketing and sale of e-cigs to young people,

According to a story from Health Day News, a new American Heart Association policy statement says this:  “Over the last 50 years, 20 million Americans died because of tobacco. We are fiercely committed to preventing the tobacco industry from addicting another generation of smokers.”

Nancy Brown is the CEO of the American Heart Association.  She points out that recent studies indicate that e-cigarettes may be a gateway to traditional tobacco products for young people.

Brown says “These disturbing developments have helped convince the association that e-cigarettes need to be strongly regulated, thoroughly researched and closely monitored.”

By the way, the US Centers for Disease Control says more than a quarter-million teens who never smoked before used e-cigs last year.  That’s a three-fold increase.

Those figures are troubling because nicotine is highly addictive and can be harmful to adolescent brain development.  Also three out of four teen smokers go on to become adult smokers, even if they intend to quit.
Dr. Elliot Antmann, the president of the Heart Association says “Nicotine is a dangerous and highly addictive chemical no matter what form it takes — conventional cigarettes or some other tobacco product.”


To read more about the Heart Association’s position on e-cigarettes, and to find help with kicking a tobacco habit, go to heart.org.


I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM.

Listen to today’s audio here.

Who Plays More Video Games—You or Your Kid?

So who plays more video games—you or your kid?  The answer might surprise you—mom!

Last week PBS reported that adult female gamers are now the largest game-playing group in the US—even more so than boys under the age of 18.

While men still account for the majority of the U.S. gaming population, the number of women playing games on both consoles and mobile devices is up to 48 percent.

Why the big increase in the number of female gamers?  According to reporter Charles Pulliam-Moor at PBS, it’s probably tied to smartphones.

In addition to traditional PCs and the Wii game console, women were more likely to game on their mobile devices, and were just as likely as men to play on their iPhone or iPad.

In the past, female gamers were thought to play games mainly to connect with their loved ones.

Nielsen analyst Nicole Pike says “[Many] women who previously only gamed with their families are now embracing gaming as an individual leisure activity as well,”

Simulation games like “Kim Kardashian: Hollywood” and “Candy Crush Saga” make headlines for the big bucks they rake in, but the kinds of games that women are playing were found to vary widely, including endless runner games such as “Temple Run,” brain teasers such as “QuizUp” and traditional card games.

Interestingly, women spend 31 percent more money on in-app purchases and 35 percent more time within mobile games compared to men.

Also, women tend to commit themselves to a particular game and stick with it. Globally, women came back to the games that they had chosen to play 42 percent more often over a seven-day period.

If you’re a woman who spends a bit too much time and money on game apps, consider what Paul says in 1st Corinthians 6:12.  Not everything is good for you….don’t become a slave to anything.”

I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM.

Listen to today’s audio here.

Feds Cracking Down on Vicodin Addiction

The feds are worried about Vicodin addiction, and they’re cracking down.

According to the LA Times, The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is putting tighter controls on the nation’s most widely prescribed narcotic painkiller.  That’s because in recent years, the drug has led to a virtual epidemic of addiction, overdose and death.

The DEA is issuing a new rule that would place hydrocodone combinations, such as Vicodin and Norco, in the same category as other frequently abused medications like OxyContin and fentanyl.

DEA administrator Michele Leonhart says that almost 7 million Americans abuse controlled-substance prescription medications, including opioid painkillers.

Once the rule takes effect in 45 days, hydrocodone products will be considered Schedule II drugs.  That means they have accepted medical uses but also the highest potential for harm and abuse.

Patients will see new restrictions on prescriptions and refills, and pharmacies will have to follow stricter procedures for handling and storage of the drugs.

Hydrocodone products and other narcotic painkillers cause or contribute to more than 16,000 deaths annually, a death toll greater than for heroin and cocaine combined.

In fact, as a result of a surge in prescription overdoses, drug fatalities have now surpassed fatalities from motor vehicle crashes, which up until now has been the leading cause of accidental death in this country.

The Times reports the common perception is that products like Vicodin are less risky than other narcotic painkillers, and they are widely prescribed by family doctors and dentists.

But according to DEA administrator Leonhart, “these products are some of the most addictive and potentially dangerous prescription medications available.”

If you or someone you love has a problem with prescription painkiller addiction, a website that offers help is “recovery.org.”

I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM.

Listen to today’s audio here.

Pushing Back Morning Start Time

Now that school has started, are your teenagers complaining about having to get up so EARLY for their first class of the day? Well, America’s pediatricians may be on their side.


According to Fox News, the American Academy of Pediatrics believes that delaying the start of the school day until at least 8:30 a.m. would help teens get the sleep they need.


The lack of enough sleep has been linked with poor health, bad grades, car crashes and other problems. The pediatricians say teens are especially at risk, and that for them, “chronic sleep loss has increasingly become the norm.”


Studies have found that most U.S. students in middle school and high school don’t get the recommended amount of sleep, which is 8 1/2 to 9 1/2 hours on school nights. Most high school seniors get an average of less than seven hours per night.


According to government figures, more than 40 percent of the nation’s public high schools start classes before 8 a.m. And school bus pickup times typically mean kids have to get up before dawn if they want to take the bus.


So what about simply having school get out later in the day? Kristen Amundson with the National Association of State Boards of Education says that would be costly.


That’s because school buses often make multiple runs each day for older and younger students.   She adds that a later dismissal time would impact after-school sports and cut into the time allowed for homework and after-school jobs,


Uh, maybe I’m missing something here, but why not simply make your kid go to BED earlier? If you turn off all electronics at 9PM—including mobile technology, you may be amazed at how quickly your teen falls asleep!


I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM.

Listen to today’s audio here.