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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Insights into Families: 5 Key Takeaways from 2023


SALT LAKE CITY — Sociologists, pollsters, medical researchers and other experts work year-round studying what leads to ‍a ⁢better life, across a ⁣bunch of different measures. They also ⁣pinpoint factors that can ⁢detract​ or that challenge people for various​ reasons. As studies and surveys peel‍ back ​the curtain on aspects of health and well-being, many ⁢of the insights can be⁣ acted ‍upon.

Here are ⁢five things we learned about family life from⁢ research and polls‍ in 2023.

The ​sleep ‘sweet ⁤spot’ for longer life

A Harvard-led team of researchers⁤ drove home the value of adequate, high-quality sleep, noting that “young⁣ people ‍who have more beneficial sleep ⁢habits are‌ incrementally less‌ likely to die early.” They presented findings⁢ from ⁣their sleep ⁤research ​at the American College⁤ of Cardiology’s 2023 ⁤Annual Scientific Session.

They ⁢said that about 1 in 12 deaths — from any cause —⁢ could be linked to⁢ poor sleep.

A ton of research says the body ⁣benefits from sleep,‌ a time‍ when it ​clears toxins, boosts immunity and improves brain and hormone function. Getting enough sleep is vital, though⁢ getting too much sleep is not good.

The researchers said that five sleep habits add close to five years ⁢to ‌a man’s life expectancy⁢ and two-and-a-half⁣ years to a woman’s. Those⁢ five sleep factors are:

  • Sleeping seven to eight hours a night.
  • Struggling to fall asleep no more than two times a week.
  • Having trouble staying asleep two times a week or ‌less.
  • Not using sleep medication.
  • Feeling well-rested when you wake up at least‍ five days a week.
  • Having⁢ a⁤ consistent sleep schedule.

You can read more about ⁢this‍ sleep research here.

Americans say career​ choices ‍are key to their happiness

Americans — including religious folks — increasingly believe ​choosing the right career path is more vital to happiness‍ and​ a good ⁣life​ than choosing the right spouse. That’s according to findings in a Pew‌ Research Center report published in September.

“In every religious ‍group analyzed, two-thirds or more say having a job or career they⁤ enjoy is extremely or⁤ very important for⁣ people to live a fulfilling life,” Pew reported. “By comparison, ⁤having children and being married‌ ranks lower among all religious groups.”

As Kelsey​ Dallas reported for the Deseret News, ‌”To be‌ clear, people ⁤of faith generally aren’t negative ⁣about marriage, although they view it as less of ⁣a fulfillment-driver than ⁣other things.”

Read more⁢ about faith and ⁣family formation here.

Americans worry ⁢about the future of the family

The ⁤same Pew report ‍found‍ that close to 4 in 10 Americans are⁤ pessimistic about the future of the family. A quarter ⁤— 25% — say they feel optimistic, while 29% say they‍ are neither.

When the​ survey asked respondents whether specific ⁢trends ⁣are positive or negative for the future, the one⁤ seen as most negative is ⁤”fewer children raised by two married parents.” Nearly half see that as a ​negative, compared to just over 1 in 10 who believe it’s a positive, the report said.

More consider fewer people ever getting married a negative (36%) than ⁢see it as a positive (9%). Twice as many (29%) see cohabiting as negative than see​ it ⁣as positive (15%).

But when it comes to having fewer children, the numbers are very ⁤similar: 27% call that negative and ⁣25% call that positive.

Find five more findings from‌ that survey here.

Marriage is still an​ aspiration, but not seen as crucial to ‌thrive

Marriage ⁤is popular and most Americans ⁣who have never wed ⁢hope to do⁤ so one⁤ day. ​But the marriage rate is declining ⁤and more children are being ⁣born to‌ unwed‌ parents.

That’s‍ according ‌to the ⁢newest‍ American Family⁢ Survey, ⁢conducted ⁤by YouGov for ⁣Deseret News and BYU’s Center for the Study of Elections ‌and Democracy and the university’s Wheatley‍ Institute. The nationally representative survey finds views on marriage split three ways: A Republican, ⁣churchgoing group ⁤that’s largely enthusiastic about marriage; a Democratic group that is becoming more ⁢skeptical‍ and is not particularly churchgoing; and “an odd collection of ⁣change in the middle.”

The survey reports that:

  • Marriage is weakening as a support for ⁣children.
  • Democrats are losing faith in ⁣marriage.
  • Republicans ⁤and the “privileged” are​ investing less in programs to⁢ support ⁣marriage.
  • Marriage is still seen as an important‍ institution, but not as crucial to ⁣thrive.

You can read more about family⁣ formation attitudes‌ here.

Volunteering⁤ can lower ‌the risk⁢ of Alzheimer’s

Volunteering⁣ is good for memory and executive function, so ‌researchers at the University of California, Davis found voluntarism could be a hedge ​against developing Alzheimer’s disease. Their study, presented at the annual Alzheimer’s Association international⁤ research conference,⁤ said volunteering was associated with better baseline scores for⁤ executive function and verbal episodic memory, even after they adjusted‍ for⁣ a‌ number of factors including age, education, sex and income. ⁣And volunteering ⁣more often is even better.

“Volunteering may be important ⁢for⁤ better ⁤cognition in ⁣late life and could ‍serve as a simple intervention in ‌all older ⁢adults​ to protect against risk⁤ for‌ Alzheimer’s disease and associated dementias,” Yi Lor, ​an epidemiology doctoral⁢ student⁤ at UC Davis, ​said in‍ the study release. “Our next steps are to examine whether volunteering is protective against ⁢cognitive impairment and how ⁢physical ⁤and mental⁣ health ‌may‍ impact‍ this relationship.”

People-oriented​ and service-oriented ​volunteering ⁣are ⁣best, ​the⁢ researchers said. ⁢You ‌can ⁢read more research findings from the gathering here.

Truth Media Network
Truth Media Network
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