National Napping Day

So apparently today is National Napping Day (according to someone). I happen to be a big fan of napping, as it is has been shown to frequently be fairly beneficial.  With people getting fewer hours of sleep (particularly relative to the hours they work or “on task”), napping has even more of draw. Cultures that have the mid-afternoon nap tend to have better physical and mental health.

In the 1950s Dr. Pepper used to promote drinking it as a pick-me-up at 10am, 2pm, and 4pm. Today we see commercials promoting 5-Hour Energy drink to avoid the mid-afternoon blahs. What both of these campaigns do is recognize the body’s natural inclination to wind-down mid-afternoon–and encourage chemically overriding that.

Here is a brief piece on why we may want to reconsider the nap. It is surely the healthier alternative to a caffeine-based pick-me-up, if less practical for our current culture.

Violent Video Games and Expectation of Hostility

I have always felt that violent video games are bad for society. It is an idea that I try to communicate to my students every class. For decades there has been an accumulation of research that showed that people are more aggressive after playing violent video games. This aggressiveness has been demonstrated in many ways across the studies—attitude, verbally, and physically.

A recent study has now demonstrated that the aggressiveness is cumulative—that increasing playing of violent video games actually leads to increasing aggression. This is the first study to demonstrate that the more one plays, the more the aggressiveness. So far, to my knowledge, we do not have any research that looks at the pathway of diminishing aggressiveness. But we can see that the aggressiveness of playing these games builds up over time.

A particularly interesting aspect of this study is the finding that one of the contributing factors of the increased aggression is the expectation of hostility. It would seem that one of the factors contributing to the aggressiveness is defensiveness—and a tendency toward “first strike.” This seems particularly important to me. Expectation of hostility also leads to more pessimism and consequently more depression. With rates of depression increasing (rapidly) over the last 5 decades, I cannot help but wonder what effect violent video games are having on negatively affecting our collective world view, if it is in fact leading to increased expectation of hostility in the world.

Interesting New Book about Sex and Relationships

Psychology Today published some excerpts from a new book about sex and relationships, How To Think More About Sex. I agreed with many of the author’s insights, many of them things that I try to teach my own clients.

 The excerpts are long, but chuck-full of good ideas. His writing gets a little dense and academic in style sometimes, but I think overall the excerpts (and probably the book) are worth the read.

Alcohol Abstinence to Treat (Some) Depression

A recent study demonstrates that drinking-induced depression is different from major depressive disorder and can be more successfully treated by not drinking than through medication.  The authors emphasize that a great deal of the depressed drinking is NOT drinking as a result of depression, but depression as a result of drinking. They found that abstinence from alcohol alone significantly improved mood for about one-third of depressed people.

 Consequently, a lot of depression goes untreated or inappropriately treated because few people—including doctors—recognize the difference. If you are depressed—whether you are on antidepressants or not (but especially if you are not satisfied with the effect of the antidepressants)—consider abstaining from alcohol consumption and see how much it helps.

Domestic Partner is Insufficient

For years I have been seeing research that showing that people in married couples fare better health-wise than single people. There has been a paucity of research on long-term cohabitating couples relative to married couples though. New research finally looks at the issue.

They found that cohabitating same-sex couples do not fare as well as married heterosexual couples in terms of health, when other socio-economic factors are considered. The prevailing wisdom on why married couples fared better was because of emotional support in having a confidant and the pooled economic resources. This research would suggest that these are an insufficient explanation for the difference. Members of same-sex cohabitating couples generally fared better than cohabiating opposite-sex couples and singles, until socioeconomic status is accounted for, and then they fare as well as unmarried individuals. This suggests (non-conclusively) that pooled economic resources is one of the contributing factors in the better health of married couples.

 The researchers suggest that cohabitating couples do not get to pool their resources as successfully as married couples—because of absence of insurance benefits and the like—and that the lack of social acceptance adds an extra stress. These seem like plausible explanations, but they are only speculative. The additional support argument is further supported when racial and gender aspects are explored. The researchers seem to strongly feel that it is not the nature of same-sex couples that diminishes the health benefits of the relationship, but specifically the oppression of gays and lesbians that inhibits the full benefits of the relationship.