Justin Verlander is the star pitcher for the Houston Astros Major League Baseball team in Texas. His teammate Alex Bregman was struggling to hit his typical homeruns and seemed fatigued. Verlander advised Bregman to start getting more sleep. Bregman recalled feeling like increasing from six hours of sleep to Verlander’s recommended ten hours was way too much, but he was willing to try. Soon he was less fatigued and his power hitting came back, allowing him to hit 30 homeruns for the season. Verlander’s sleep advice worked.
Verlander credits some of his own success over the years to his sleep habits. He gets nearly 50 percent more sleep than the average American’s 6.8 hours a night. He aims for ten hours every night. To help him stay asleep that long, he uses block out blinds and always puts his smartphone on silent or airplane mode to avoid distractions. Quality sleep can provide a healthy foundation for professional athletes, but they aren’t the only ones that can benefit from healthy sleeping habits. Not only can a good night’s sleep have a restorative effect on your body, but it can help your ability to make decisions and improve your overall well-being.
Four teens in Sapulpa, Oklahoma, are being praised for their courage and quick thinking after they rushed into a burning home to save a 90-year-old woman. The friends—Wyatt Hall, Nick Byrd, Seth Byrd, and Dylan Wick—were hanging out when they noticed smoke coming from the house across the street. Without hesitating, two of them called 911 and went to get help, while the other two forced their way into the house. Fourteen-year-old Nick found the woman inside and carried her to safety. The woman’s daughter thanked them for their selflessness, saying: “Young men who risked their own lives, their own safety, perhaps their good standing with their parents who might have chosen for them to do otherwise ... Thank you for being the kind of young men who thought about another person above yourselves.”
During the World Health Organization’s World Health Assembly in May 2019, gaming addiction was officially recognized as a modern disease. Members voted to include gaming disorder as an official condition in its most recent International Classification of Diseases, which is regarded as the international standard for diagnosis and treating of health conditions. The new definition states that gaming behavior changes into a disorder when it takes over other daily activities. It is when gaming begins to impair relationships and school or work for at least one year.
Hopes are that the inclusion of gaming disorder in the International Classification of diseases will raise awareness about people’s reliance on gaming, inspire new research on gaming behaviors and other technology-related behaviors. The current classification is specific to gaming. There is not enough data on people’s use of the internet, social media, and other online activities to show a “behavioral addiction” in the same way.
Ahmad Ali is a Canadian teen, who just won a national science fair award for his prototype the SignSMART glove. Ali’s SignSMART glove is a re-engineered version of a glove that translates American Sign Language (ASL) gestures into text and speech. There are “flex sensors” along the fingers and knuckles of the glove to create electric currents. These currents are then wirelessly transmitted to a smartphone. Then, the smartphone announces the letters through a speech-to-text function.
The idea came to Ali after taking a computer science course and learning about a “sign language glove” designed by two university students. After studying their glove design, he felt there were many flaws that could be fixed. After several re-engineering trials, he created his version of the SignSMART glove and submitted it for the Canada-Wide Science Fair. He won a bronze medal plus a scholarship against 462 peers. Ali says, “The problem with languages like ASL is it is not understood by most hearing people, hence there’s a communication gap between the hearing and non-hearing communities.” He hopes his prototype will help bridge that gap.
Chibuike “Chibby” Uwakwe is an award-winning teen pianist. He loves classical music, but is also a fan of jazz. However, winning the Omega Psi Phi Piano Award is just one of his many accomplishments. Chibby—a first-generation American born to parents who came to the U.S. from Nigeria—was also part of the International Baccalaureate program and track team for his high school. After applying to 12 prestigious universities, the 18-year-old found himself getting acceptance letters from all of them, including Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and Columbia. Although he is passionate about his music, Chibby has decided to attend Harvard and pursue becoming a surgeon. He says, “Surgery and piano are similar in that you have to use your fingers intricately when you’re doing surgery, right? So, that’s why I’m leaning towards that.” His hope is that his unique abilities as a pianist will help him become a skilled surgeon so he can help people through their medical difficulties.
When tragedy strikes, the media is an immediate source of information. You may recently have heard about Kendrick Castillo, the 18-year-old student who died rushing a shooter at his Colorado high school. His actions, along with other students, allowed many to find safety and for the shooter to be apprehended. Learning about Castillo’s heroism can help people feel connected to those who experienced the tragedy and lead to an increase in empathy, community awareness, and involvement. However, it’s important to remember that repeated exposure to reports of tragedy can be a source of stress and anxiety. It’s okay to take care of your own mental health and take a break from the news whenever it feels like too much. You may also want to talk to an adult you trust, such as a parent, teacher, or school counselor.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. schools have significantly increased security measures for emergencies over the last 20 years. At the same time, the Center for Safe and Healthy Schools at John Hopkins University is using research and education on a range of issues—youth suicide, trauma, and bullying—to broaden the conversation about fostering safe and healthy climates. Both organizations say that the narrative on school violence needs to change. Despite the heightened attention in the media, statistics show that about the safest place you can be on any given day in the U.S. is in a school.
The National Athletic Trainers’ Association found through a recent study that higher levels of negative emotional states are being reported by student-athletes in high school. They stated that while parents and coaches are often the best to remedy the situation, they can also make it worse. Today’s trend in high-school sports is to copy the methods and increased intensity of playing college-level sports.
Playing sports on a regular basis typically can boost physical and mental health. For serious high-school athletes, sports can also be a contributor to depression and anxiety. Many of these athletes train year-round and may be counting on an athletic scholarship to afford college tuition. These athletes’ fear of getting hurt and falling behind, pressure to compete and win, as well as extra hours of practice cutting into homework, socializing, and sleeping-time all can contribute to an increase in anxiety or lead to depression.
A study published in 2019 may be the first to offer estimates for the deaths of teenagers due to dating violence in the United States. The study found that out of the more than 2,000 adolescents that died between 2003 and 2016, almost seven percent were killed by their former or current partners. Around 90 percent of the victims were female, with an average age of around 17. In most of the cases, their partner was 18 years old or older.
The American Academy of Pediatrics encourages teens to talk about healthy relationships with their doctors. Teens should also go to “safe adults” in their life when they need help with a stressful experience. These adults—parents, teachers, counselors, doctors—provide support and a physical stress buffer from negative situations. There are also programs that teach how to avoid partner abuse that can be found through the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Last week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced plans to introduce legislation that would raise the minimum age to buy tobacco products in the U.S. from 18 to 21. The proposed bill would cover all tobacco products, including vaping devices. According to McConnell, teen vaping is “the serious threat” his legislation will try to combat.
McConnell made this announcement at the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky in Louisville. He was joined by the CEO of the foundation, former Congressman Ben Chandler. Chandler explained that raising the minimum purchase age is an effective way to reduce smoking rates. The bill even has support from the tobacco industry, including Altria, one of the world’s largest tobacco companies which includes the vaping company Juul. Altria’s Vice President said that putting tobacco on a par with alcohol “makes sense” and could persuade lawmakers to “approach tobacco regulation a bit more reasonably.”
Caroline Marks, a 17-year-old surfer from Florida, made history on April 8 in Queensland, Australia. Marks won $100,000 for taking first place at the 2019 Mobile Pro Gold Coast surfing finals, beating some of the world’s best female surfers. The contest was the first big event of the year and was staged in conjunction with the men’s Quiksilver Pro competition.
It’s not just the money that made it such a momentous occasion for Marks. This was the first win after the World Surf League had promised to award equal prizes for men and women competing on the elite level. The decision by the league this past September makes pro surfing one of the few professional sports that has implemented such gender equality.
For Marks, it was a great time to debut on the winner’s podium. “I’m really emotional right now,” Marks said in an interview with the World Surf League. “I can’t believe it. I’m speechless. It’s incredible to be a part of this sport. I just want to thank everyone at WSL— I’m so grateful. It’s so amazing to be a part of women’s surfing.”
U.S. health officials are now investigating if seizures can be caused by nicotine-vaping devices. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration released a review of 35 cases of seizures among those using e-cigarettes, mostly young people. While they are not certain vaping is responsible, nicotine poisoning is known to cause seizures, convulsions, vomiting, and brain injury.
Heat is used to create an inhalable vapor of a flavored nicotine-based solution in most e-cigarettes. While the industry is thriving, there are few standards, including how much nicotine is delivered through a device. Many refillable e-cigarettes can be used with varying strengths of nicotine. The concern of nicotine poisoning through these devices is just one more potential health hazard flagged by the FDA. Even the device itself is tied to burns and explosions related to overheated batteries.
A group of senior girls in Maryland recently discovered that their male classmates were circulating a list that rated them on their looks. Some of the girls felt shocked and disgusted, while others felt betrayed or disrespected. “I think of these people as friends, and I think of them as peers,” said eighteen-year-old Virginia Brown. “…they don’t see me as a friend, they don’t really respect me for my worth, all they see me for is my physical attractiveness.”
When the student who created the list was punished with just one day in detention, the girls went to the assistant principal’s office and demanded change. As a result, they had a two-and-a half hour meeting with about 80 students where the girls confronted their classmates and talked about their experiences with harassment, objectification, and sexual abuse, both in and out of school. Some students have now formed a group that meets every week to talk about how to prevent similar situations from occurring.