Archive for December, 2012

December 11, 2012

Without sleep, your long hours of studying will not be retained

By Krista Brooks

Monday, December 11, 2012 – The Daily 49er

Never underestimate the power of sleep. Most of us have altered our sleeping patterns drastically to accommodate our strenuous studying for finals and finishing the work we put off until the very end. Good news is, it’s finally almost over.

Before the big celebration you may have planned, catch up on sleep with a long power nap or a well-needed eight hours. Americans are typically sleep-deprived while only sleeping six hours at most each night. This puts us at risk of health and cognitive problems.

Without enough sleep, we are prone to making bad decisions, loss of memory and chronic fatigue. Growth hormones are produced while we are sleeping to build or repair tissue to restore our bodies each night. The chemical reactions that occur with less sleep can lead to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, obesity, lowered IQ and depression.

When our bodies are sleep deprived, we have increased appetites and are likely to overeat. The feeling of fullness in women, hormone GLP-1, is reduced with less sleep; and the hunger-stimulating hormone in men, ghrelin, increases with up to only four hours of sleep. We become hungry the following day because our ability to process food is altered without appropriate sleep.

Sleep can reduce pain sensitivity better than painkillers when over eight hours are achieved. With less sleep, bacteria and virus fighting antibodies are produced at dramatically lower rates.

Some of us will return home from our last final and immediately hit the hay. Others may find trouble sleeping with all the stress lingering from the semester. After finals were over last semester, I could not sleep for more than four hours without waking suddenly from dreams about missing a test or putting a wrong answer. This year is going to be different.

Without sleep, we cannot function properly or utilize our full potential. To help aid sleep without medication, drink a cup of chamomile or mulberry tea an hour before sleep.

Thanks to certain vitamins and minerals, different foods can help the sleeping process. Fish and chickpeas contain high levels of vitamin B6 that is essential to produce melatonin, the chemical that regulates our sleep cycle. Fish also contains magnesium, which is a mineral that allows our bodies to unwind naturally and relax muscles. Whole grains also ensure that your body is plenty with magnesium. Calcium is key to manufacture melatonin, and also combines with magnesium to remove restlessness from our sleep. Milk, yogurt, kale and jasmine rice are all foods to ensure a good night’s sleep.

Going to bed earlier can also improve your sleeping. Exercise, stretching and meditation with deep breathing can clear your mind and relieve stress to help fall into dreamland.

Be sure to get some sleep in between finals and after they are through. To absorb all the studying you have immersed in this week, sleep eight hours before your hardest final, rested and aware. Sleep can be your worst enemy during deadlines, but will be your best friend to retain information, eat less, and improve your mood and performance overall.

Krista Brooks is a junior journalism major and the assistant opinions editor for the Daily 49er.

December 11, 2012

Advertising companies need to stay out of consumer history

By Krista Brooks

Published Wednesday, December 5, 2012 –  The Daily 49er

An online advertisement company has settled with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to end “history sniffing” to use personal information to target consumers concerning sensitive issues such as medical problems and financial issues.

The FTC provides defense for consumers to prevent unfair business practices, fraud and deception to protect their identity and history.

Epic Marketplace Inc. was charged yesterday for illegally gathering private data. The company is present on 45,000 websites. This large New York City based network tracked all visitors to its sites to follow consumers’ Internet behavior. This practice is commonly known as online behavioral advertising.

The FTC reported that Epic was collecting data outside of the company’s network and infringed on the trust bond with the consumers by being deceptive. The company claimed in the privacy policy that the Internet cookie would only follow the activity within the company’s sites.

The FTC discovered that Epic followed online users visiting any of 54,000 domains outside of the network.

These outside sites that were monitored by the advertising group were confidential issues relating to menopause, bankruptcy, disability insurance, fertility issues and fertility complications. This information was collected illegally without consumer consent.

Epic Media Group, LLC, the parent company of the organization, and Epic Marketplace Inc. have been barred from using this tracking technology any longer.

The settlement ordered the advertisement company to delete all information that was collected with the misused software.

The groups were strongly encouraged to follow their own guidelines to defer from miscommunication of their policies and protect consumer rights.

Epic trailed the online activity of Internet users without their knowledge or consent, categorized their audience into interest groups based only on a small focus of websites. The problem with this advertising tracking is that it can be done secretly while accumulating data that concerns personal matters. Facebook uses online behavioral advertising by tracking users’ activity on other sites while logged into the social network. To me, this is the same issue. Facebook uses the data to display ads on your profile that will appeal to your interests; however, the network is open about this software and includes it in the privacy policy that users must agree to terms to retain an account.

The FTC should monitor Facebook and other sites that use personal information to filter advertisements and pop-ups in addition to online history. Our activity online should be protected and private unless addressed specifically from a company that asks for data. Information and personal preferences should be accumulated from online polls or surveysthat involve volunteers to disclose such data.

This case caught the FTC’s attention because the small group of consumers that were targeted had Web browser malfunctions and outdated features.

“The bigger issue here is that data-collection practices by online advertising companies are largely unregulated,” said Rainey Reitman of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, an organization that advocates for online privacy. “If you want to surf the Web these days and not have a corporate shadow following you around, you’ve got to be extremely technicallysavvy.”

Be smart browsing the Internet and defer from revealing personal information that could be “sniffed” out by advertisement corporations.

Krista Brooks is a junior journalism major and the assistant opinions editor for the Daily 49er. 

December 11, 2012

MDMA medication therapy for PTSD show positive results

By Krista Brooks

Published Monday, December 3, 2012 –  The Daily 49er

A recent study has shown that low doses of MDMA, otherwise known as ecstasy, combined with psychotherapy and treatment can significantly reduce the severity of post-traumatic stress disorder.

The study began in the early 2000s by South Carolina psychiatrist Dr. Michael Mithoefer and his wife, nurse Anne Mithoefer, in collaboration with the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies or MAPS. Researchers from the Medical University of South Carolina reported that the treatment was highly successful.

The Journal of Psychopharmacology published the results that 83 percent of participants were no longer qualified for a PTSD diagnosis after two months. The study primarily focused on survivors of sexual assault, but extended to military veterans after the numbers of these PTSD cases rose.

The treatment includes two doses of pure MDMA in an extended therapy session, followed by another dose after three to five weeks of therapy without the drug. The focus of these sessions is to relieve the patient of the disorder’s symptoms, including flashbacks, anxiety, depression, insomnia, nightmares and hyperarousal. The Mithoefers reported that the patients’ symptoms reduced by 75 percent after treatment. The treatment varies between patients, some are more affected by MDMA than others.

The psychedelic drug, known formally as 3,4-methylenedioxy-N-methylamphetamine, provided twice the relief compared to non-MDMA therapy.

According to the study, the drug lessens overreactions in the brain by altering hard-wired connections between conscious thought and emotional reactions. It releases serotonin, norepinephrine, dopamine and oxytocin, while redirecting activity in the amygdala, a region in the brain that is activated during fearful, threatening situations.

Dr. Julie Holland, a psychiatrist studying the safety of the drug, reported that the controlled environment diminishes most risks associated with MDMA.

Harvard psychiatrist Dr. John Halpern studied the neurotoxicity of the treatment, and found that the occasional dosage does not produce any cognitive damage to patients with the disorder.

According to MAPS, almost one in seven service members returning from Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from PTSD. Many of these cases lead to suicidal acts.

In 2011, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs spent close to $5.5 billion to 275,000 veterans for PTSD disability payments. This number is expected to rise this year.

With $15 million, MAPS is working towards supplementing these costs with the MDMA therapy with a 10-year plan to make the drug FDA approved for prescription medicine.

The drug, if approved, will only be applicable for this form of medical treatment and therapy. It has been supported primarily by nonprofit groups to help these veterans. Similar studies are being conducted in Switzerland, Israel and Britain with MDMA, LSD and marijuana.

With the increasing costs of support and growing number in PTSD veterans, this treatment is a step in the right direction.

The study is still small, but is the only known medication to aid PTSD other than antidepressants. CNN has investigated this treatment and found several families whose lives were significantly better after overcoming PTSD. This new therapy movement is not political, it is a health issue regarding veterans that are scarred with the events they have survived. The Mithoefer’s study is an eight to 10 hour treatment that could change a life forever. With 15 of 21 people completely recovered from the disorder, this practice and therapy should be approved and helping others as soon as possible.

Krista Brooks is a junior journalism major and the assistant opinions editor for the Daily 49er.

December 11, 2012

CSULB is catching up with others by offering queer studies minor

Rainbow flag. Symbol of gay pride.

Rainbow flag. Symbol of gay pride. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Krista Brooks

Published Tuesday, November 27, 2012 – The Daily 49er

The Cal State University Academic Senate and Cal State Long Beach Academic Senate has approved a new minor for the university, queer studies.

The idea for the minor was developed by Jennifer Reed, an associate professor within the women’s, gender and sexuality studies department.

Reed is also a member of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Task Force. She has mentioned that the term “queer” is not offensive, it is only an umbrella word in academia to include a wide range of sexuality.

The minor took about two years to be approved. Students in pursuit of this major will be required to take an introduction to queer studies course and a queering gender course. The other elective courses offered next fall under the women’s, gender and sexual studies department will include: gender and sexuality in Asian America; American Indian genders and sexualities; critical issues in Chicana and Latina studies; gender, sexuality, and desire in world history context and reproductive justice.

It’s 2012, and we finally have an academic minor for queer studies. A major would have been nice to make up for our school being completely behind the times, but this is the first step.

Dina Peroone, an assistant professor of sex, sexuality, crime and punishment, said she supports this minor and feels that it is imperative to inform students about this subject for life in the real world.

Queer studies is a critical approach to studies based on issues including sexual orientation, gender identity, the LGBT community and culture. The minor includes academic study in categories such as biology, sociology, psychology, political science and ethics.

Considering that we have a large LGBT community and pride parade in Long Beach, I would have assumed we would have this by now.

Our neighboring schools, Cal State Fullerton and Cal State Northridge, already offer degrees in the same field.

Other California schools offer degrees and certificates. Humboldt State University offers a multicultural queer studies minor. The University of California, Berkeley offers an LGBT studies minor. The University of California, Santa Barbara offers a queer studies minor in their department of feminist studies, and San Francisco State University offers an LGBT studies minor through its LGBT program.

I can understand SFSU beating us to the punch, but we are clearly a city of many cultures with a large community that appeals to this minor.

I am proud that we will have the option next year for this minor. I hope to see it become a major soon with more classes and options.

Krista Brooks is a junior journalism major and the assistant opinions editor for the Daily 49er.

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