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Start 2008 off right

By Alice Bradley

Happy new year! And oh, Wonderland readers, I mean that literally. I demand that you have a happy new year. But how? Here are a few news tidbits that will, I hope, help you find your answers.
Have a happy marriage
It turns out that even if your work is crap, a happy marriage will make everything all better. A new study out of UCLA followed 30 married couples, measuring their cortisol levels throughout the day. According to the results, cortisol levels (which are directly related to stress) decreased more in the after-work hours for women who enjoyed happy marriages. Cortisol levels for men decreased whether or not their marriages were happy.
Whether or not 30 couples studied over a mere three days is enough for a conclusive study is certainly up for debate. And I’m tired of the well-worn notion that men are less affected than women by emotional stress. I mean, maybe it’s true, but every time another study comes out showing that men are apes who enjoy sitting on their La-Z-boys and drinking a Bud Lite, no matter what sort of harridan they’re married to (really, these studies come out more than you’d think), my hackles are raised. And then I go take it out on my husband. Fortunately he doesn’t care.
One thing is clear, and also not surprising: the state of one’s marriage is important. So how do you improve your marriage? That’s between you and your yours. I’m not here to intrude, or to judge. Whatever works, I say.
Decrease stress levels
Stress is bad for your health in more ways than we can count, but a new study shows that stress raises your risk of developing post-traumatic stress syndrome. The more stress you’re under, it seems, the less likely you are to bounce back from a traumatic event. Women, naturally, seem to be more vulnerable to this syndrome. (Sigh.) So being under less stress isn’t just more pleasant, it’s also important.
Get more sleep
Yes, because more sleep will help you be less stressed, right? Well, yes. And also, there’s that little matter of diabetes.
(Bet THAT woke you up.)
Researchers over at the University of Chicago Medical Center found that even a few days of disturbed sleep can seriously mess with your ability to regulate blood sugar levels. This sort of disruption can, eventually, lead to Type 2 diabetes. By the way, these findings occurred with subjects who had no other risk factors for diabetes.
According to the study, it’s not so much the quantity of sleep as the quality. If you’re awakened during a deep sleep phase, you miss out on its restorative properties.
But how do you ensure undisrupted sleep? The answer is clear: don’t have children. If you already have children, sell them. I’m pretty sure the researchers would back me up on this.
Speaking of children, they also need their sleep. Because they’re people! The things you learn. Insufficient quantities of sleep in children have been linked to both weight and behavioral problems. If you have a preschooler, he or she should get at least 11 to 13 hours of sleep a night; school-age children require 10 to 11 hours.
Make sleep a priority, and everyone in your house will be a lot happier and healthier.
Forgive someone
Got a grudge? Say, because someone woke you up in the middle of the night? For your own good, it’s time to let it go. Holding a grudge does more than etch permanent lines into your forehead and puckered lip area. It also elevates your heart rate and blood pressure, increases your muscle tension, and depresses your mood. People who are able to forgive live longer.
Please note: this does not mean you have to be friends with the wrongdoer in your life. You may keep your distance.
In conclusion: forgive, sleep, de-stress. You’ll feel so much better, maybe you’ll fight less with your spouse! And just like that, you’ll be having your best year ever.

Alice Bradley
About the Author

Alice Bradley

Alice Bradley was a regular contributor to Alpha Mom, writing about current events as they related to parenting. You can read about her daily life at her personal blog, Finslippy.


Alice Bradley was a regular contributor to Alpha Mom, writing about current events as they related to parenting. You can read about her daily life at her personal blog, Finslippy.

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Just the other day I was having a conversation (quite stereotypically around the water cooler) with a coworker about allllll these “medical studies” and how “awesome” they are. Do you folks listen to Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me? I love how they always bring up the study that proves something like “sleeping is the best cure for being tired!” (actual study cited). Your post made me feel that way all over again. Aren’t we glad that people who are better and smarter and richer and more successful than we are have the time and money to tell us these things?… Read more »


Thanks – now I’m all stressed out about my stress levels….

hi kooky

Excellent advice. Dang if that “forgive” suggestion isn’t the hardest one… I’m currently working on all three issues. Thanks for the encouraging, scientifically-supported reminders. Wishing you and yours a happy new year too!


I’m already afraid of developing Type II diabetes for other reasons, and now I know my failure to get those babies to sleep will seal the deal. But the guilt trip I can lay on the oldest, in particular….


Wait! Go back to that part that said if I get more sleep I can eat more sugar.


I love the sleep guidelines for children. If I could actually get my 2-year-old to sleep for 11 to 13 hours a night (rather than 10, if we’re lucky), don’t you think I WOULD?? The more he sleeps, the more I can get done, and still sleep! But no, he is not cooperative. I’d get him to read the study, but he can’t read yet. And by the time he can read, he’ll only need 10-11 hours of sleep a night, and he’ll wonder why I’m so worked up. I guess I could forgive him for not sleeping enough and… Read more »


I am constantly holding a grudge against my husband because he makes me get up with the kid in the middle of the night. I know he hears her. He just knows I won’t be able to listen to the tears forever without my heart falling out. Men are jerks. :0P