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Poor children can't sleep as soundly as kids from middle class homes

Who can sleep soundly as a kid when the hardscrabble neighborhood is poor and alive with noise, crime, and the shouts of threats--as well as the sound of music? Hormones are affected by sleep disturbances.

Poor children can't sleep as soundly as kids from middle class homes.
Anne Hart, photography.

Poor children can't sleep as soundly as kids from middle class homes, says one study authored by Sanjeev V. Kothare, MD, of St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children in Philadelphia and published in 2007, reveals how healthy children of a lower socioeconomic class sleep worse than those of middle class.

Also, it has been said that people who have sleep deprivation may eat more, possibly raising the risk of obesity. See the WebMD article, "How Sleep Affects Your Weight ." Lack of sleep causes the hormone, ghrelin levels to rise, making you hungry. The quality of your sleep may silently orchestrate a symphony of hormonal activity tied to your appetite, says that article.

Since hormones such as leptin and ghrelin influence your appetite, and studies show that production of both may be influenced by how much or how little you sleep. So imagine what it's like for children from a lower socioeconomic environment have worse sleeping patterns than children from middle class status, says a June 11, 2007 news release not about sleep and obesity, but about sleep and poverty, from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, "Healthy children of a lower socioeconomic class sleep worse than those of middle class."

Excessive daytime sleepiness due to poor sleep the night before may have a negative impact on a child’s academic performance and also put them at risk for developing health problems, according to a research abstract. The presentation of the research took place at SLEEP 2007, the 21st Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies (APSS).

The study, authored by Sanjeev V. Kothare, MD, of St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children in Philadelphia, was focused on a total of 64 children, who were brought in by their parents for either an acute illness or well child visit. The parents were asked to fill out a standardized 35-item Children’s Sleep Habits Questionnaire, which examines various sleeping behaviors including bedtime resistance, sleep onset delay, sleep duration, sleep anxiety, night awakenings, parasomnias, sleep disordered breathing and daytime sleepiness. Each category is scored, with higher scores indicating poorer sleeping patterns.

When compared to middle-class children, healthy children from a lower socioeconomic class had significantly higher values for bedtime resistance, sleep onset delay, sleep duration, sleep anxiety, night awakenings, parasomnias, sleep disordered breathing and daytime sleepiness

"This study highlights the importance of screening for sleeping problems in children from an inner city population," says Dr. Kothare in the news release. "Many of these problems are under-recognized, and may impact the health and performance of these children at school. Timely and appropriate intervention strategies may help in ameliorating some of these problems. Additional multi-centric studies need to be performed to validate results and provide further understanding of the mechanisms involved in the pathogenesis of these sleeping problems."

Recent studies associate lack of sleep with serious health problems such as an increased risk of depression, obesity, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Experts recommend that children in pre-school sleep between 11-13 hours a night, and school-aged children between 10-11 hours of sleep a night.

A child should follow these steps to get a good night’s sleep:

  • Follow a consistent bedtime routine.
  • Establish a relaxing setting at bedtime.
  • Get a full night’s sleep every night.
  • Avoid foods or drinks that contain caffeine, as well as any medicine that has a stimulant, prior to bedtime.
  • Do not go to bed hungry, but don’t eat a big meal before bedtime either.
  • The bedroom should be quiet, dark and a little bit cool.
  • Get up at the same time every morning.

Parents who suspect that their child might be suffering from a sleep disorder are encouraged to consult with their child’s pediatrician, who will refer them to a sleep specialist.

Back in 2007, the annual SLEEP meeting brought together an international body of 5,000 leading researchers and clinicians in the field of sleep medicine to present and discuss new findings and medical developments related to sleep and sleep disorders. More than 1,000 research abstracts were presented at the SLEEP meeting, a joint venture of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society. In 2007, the four-day scientific meeting brought to light new findings that enhanced the understanding of the processes of sleep and aid the diagnosis and treatment of sleep disorders such as insomnia, narcolepsy and sleep apnea.

The good life is elusive for middle class working couples with kids

In another study, University of Minnesota researchers revealed that the 'Good Life' is elusive for middle class working couples with children. Super couples 'have it all' and expect children, says the August 11, 2006 news release, "'Good Life' elusive for middle class working couples with children."

In research presented back in 2006 at the American Sociological Association's annual meeting, Phyllis Moen, McKnight Presidential Chair in Sociology at the University of Minnesota, says that middle class couples who both work struggle to compete in job environments designed for single earners with no family responsibilities. According to Moen, couples still are operating under outdated work policies and practices and institutional and organizational rules designed for a one earner, one homemaker model.

You can check out Moen's paper, "Dual-Earner Middle-Class Time Convoys, Ecologies, and Life-Course 'Fit:' Super Couples or Couples Stretched Thin?" presented Aug. 11, 2006 in Montreal, Canada. "Middle class couples are stretched thin in terms of time by "work-friendly" jobs," says Moen in the news release.

"In part this reflects the realities of a global information economy with its speed-ups, pressures to increase productivity, 24-7 availability by computer, downsizing insecurities, expectations of long hours and little schedule flexibility." You can read this research online in a PDF format article, "Dual-Earner Ecologies, Gender, and Life Course “Fit” - PAA 2009."

In her paper, Moen describes evidence that middle class dual-earner couples, who appear advantaged given their education and resources, are nevertheless stretched thin

In fact, fewer than one in six qualify as "super couples" (those where both husband and wife have a high quality of life). And those who fit this category tend to be couples with no children. In about half of the 1,060 couples she studied, Moen found that both the husbands and wives reported either low quality of life or only adequate -- what she calls "good enough" -- quality of life. Women working in job environments that are insecure or offer them little scheduling flexibility and control are unlikely to have individual or couple life quality.

Moen studies and has published numerous books and articles on occupational careers, retirement, families, health, gender and social policy, as they intersect and as they play out over the life course. Her two most recent books report on data obtained through a grant supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. They are "It's About Time: Couples and Careers" (2003) and "The Career Mystique: Cracks in the American Dream" (2005, with Pat Roehling). The Career Mystique earned the 2005 Award for Excellence in Sociology and Social Work from the Association of American Publishers Professional and Scholarly Publishing Division.

Income mobility and the middle class

On the topic of the middle class, you may wish to check out a February 28, 2012 news release on another study about the middle class, "Middle class benefits the most from post-1992 university expansion." Now, in a still more recent study, in 2014, researchers in this new study examined earnings mobility, not physical mobility by geographic relocation. America's working poor value the work they do and have high hopes for their children's futures even though most believe it's now easier to fall out of the middle class than to rise into it.

How much would your parent's income matter if you're an American youth today wondering whether you'll move up the career ladder from poverty to wealth? Will you be able to reach a middle class economic level of income, education, and lifestyle or even get to enjoy it before your adult children move in and you spend your retirement savings just to keep family members from being homeless?

In the present generation, will you become richer and more educated than your parents or grandparents? New studies say that if you're growing up in the USA in this generation you are just as likely to climb the ladder of income success as your parents born a generation ago.

Maybe you went to college or technical school to learn a skill in demand in the job market. But you're parents didn't. And maybe your grandparents were able to buy a home and support a family on an elementary school education. After several generations, does it all matter how educated you are or self-taught when it comes to rising from poor to middle class?

You'd have a better chance at riches if you moved from middle-class to upper middle class

The landmark new study, from a group led by Harvard’s Raj Chetty, suggests that any advances in opportunity provided by expanded social programs have been offset by other changes in economic conditions. Increased trade and advanced technology, for instance, have closed off traditional sources of middle-income jobs, according to the January 22, 2014 Washington Post article by Jim Tankersley, "Economic mobility hasn't changed in a half century, economists declare."

Does where you live make a difference whether you'll grow up to be rich or poor? Or is your destiny driven more by whether your parents are poor or middle class? Geography may be a critical factor in the pursuit of the American Dream, says new research that points to the Southeast having more incidences of lower mobility over time than the Mountain West states.

Children growing up in America today are just as likely — no more, no less — to climb the economic ladder as children born more than a half-century ago, a team of economists reported today. Also, in another study, Pew research reveals that 43 percent of adults age 60-plus not working anymore are still helping their grown kids financially.

It seems to look like, according to the latest research that social movements that brought women and minorities into Ivy League schools through Affirmative Action programs or other opportunities that make college accessible to most people aren't making as much impact as the fact that if you're growing up poor, you still have the same odds of being trapped in poverty as your grandparents and great grandparents had in the post WWII generation.

The main reason why that's happening is due to the larger distance to climb to get up the economic ladder of success than your great grandparents had to climb. For example, your great grandparents in 1934 could buy a four-family house in a working class neighborhood and let the rentals pay the mortgage, which in those years was around $32 a month on a brick four-family apartment house, say in Brooklyn in a lower middle-class and working class neighborhood.

Or in 1968, that family's kids who moved to California, could buy a house with $1,800 down on a single family home on a relatively large canyon lot in San Diego in a middle class neighborhood (such as Claremont), with mortgage payments of about $150 a month in 1968-1970. If you were born seven to ten years before the Boomer Generation, you still had the chance to make it from poverty to upper middle class in home and neighborhood or educational and skill levels.

Not so today, and not so today in Sacramento, for example. In 1959, the average file clerk just out of high school earned $36 a week in a first job after graduation working in Manhattan and commuting by subway to his or her parent's home or apartment. What's changed is the difference between the bottom and the top of the economic ladder.

The consequences of mobility

Economic inequality in spite of more mobility affect young people growing up in this generation. Climbing the ladder of income increments still is difficult today. Economic inequality and the American Dream seem to be like Mother Nature and Father Time. You can fool Mother Nature, but Father Time catches up with consequences. There's more mobility today. But the consequences of being more mobile has changed due to the inequality.

Maybe Highway 66 is just a historic memory to reminisce about when people moved to California in the 1960s before the price of homes skyrocketed from $25,000 for a La Jolla home near the beach to close to a million and up with an ocean view. Check out the site, Interactive: How does your county stack up?

It's the inequality that puts a glass ceiling on people born near the bottom in this generation

If you're born into a poor or homeless family today, you're more likely to stay in poverty when you have children and grandchildren unless you remain single and don't have children, instead finding ways to educate yourself in some skill that's in high demand now with the outlook of remaining in high demand for the future of your work life. But one problem is that people tend to get married or reproduce at a young age before they've learned a skill and earned an income in a field that's in high demand where the pay rises to at least a middle-class range.

A typical example would be a young woman from a single parent home at the poverty level of income. She has the choice to join a program for women in technology, engineering, math, or science, but may not believe in herself that it takes more hard work than just being born 'smart.' Low self-esteem may keep her from getting into school programs that offer scholarships or other training opportunities. She may end up a single teenage mother in poverty in a long line of generations of poor families.

Is it harder to rise from poverty to upper middle class today?

Or the person, male or female may stay near the bottom because the family and neighborhood, the entire world of that person stays near the bottom. That's what researchers mean when they point to consequences remaining the same as the previous two generations compared to the belief in economic mobility.

It's news when stories are broadcast about immigrants coming to America with a few cents in their pockets and becoming billionaires as real estate developers, franchise owners, and other types of entrepreneurs. But that's the basis of a lot of people's faith in economic mobility.

Is it a myth that if you're born into poverty you can become middle class and then rich?

It's more likely that a kid from a middle-class home becomes rich than a kid from deep poverty living in a poor and hard-scrabble neighborhood with daily violence and crime constant and nearby, or a homeless kid finally put into a motel with his or her family. The problem that makers it harder on these kids is the slow recovery from recession and decades of middle-class stagnation.

It appears in news stories that in the previous generation it was a lot easier for someone to rise from poverty to wealth in a lifetime, at least according to news stories of immigrants arriving almost penniless and within a few years opening businesses from wholesale plumbing supplies to a chain of restaurants or in real estate development and philanthropy.

Why is it so hard to rise from poverty to wealth in this generation?

You see in the news immigrants from a variety of countries achieving this goal. But today, research says that it's more difficult to rise up from poverty to wealth or even to reach the middle class. If you look back to the 1980s, that's when mobility started its fast decline.

In the latest study, researchers from Harvard, the University of California at Berkeley, and the US Treasury Department’s Office of Tax Analysis looked at millions of anonymous earnings records and found that mobility has not changed appreciably since the 1970s.

What do you look for in earnings records that point to lower earnings mobility?

What the researchers examined were records for parents at a set age and for their children once they reached adulthood. For the most recent generation of children, many of whom have not yet started working, they measured college attendance, which correlates with higher earnings, explains the Washington Post article, "Economic mobility hasn't changed in a half century, economists declare."

The researchers also looked at a study that began in the 1950s. Back then social and economic mobility had been stable between 1900 and the 1950s. The immigrant who found himself and his family penniless on Ellis Island in 1902 may have been able to open a wholesale plumbing supplies business in Manhattan by 1925 and afford later to have bought and paid off a spacious apartment overlooking Central Park by 1959, which his children inherited eventually. That person may have passed on millions of dollars to his children.

On the other hand, kids born today to penniless people or rather people living below the poverty line may be stuck because mobility seems to be jammed or wedged and like an Internet connection caught at low bandwidth, remains slow. The result is that a child in the USA born into a poor family has a much harder time to climb into the category of the richest earners compared to a kid born in Canada or in some Scandinavian countries. Geography plays a part.

The question is which parts of the country have lower mobility? Researches found that in the USA, it's the Southeast compared to the Mountain West. Maybe it's still more difficult to rise to riches in some of the Southeastern states than it might be in the state of Washington, for example. After all, Microsoft is in Washington, not that it matters which Mountain West state you're in. Idaho, for example, is growing fast.

The mountain states are the nation's fastest-growing region. You may wish to check out the "USA article, Mountain West region becomes biggest Republican Bastion."

The mountain West is now the most solidly Republican part of the nation: Does it matter?

In 1992, Republicans held three of the region's eight governorships. Today, they hold all eight. In 1992, the GOP held a 23-17 lead in the region's U.S. Senate and House seats. Today, their lead is 31-9, explains the USA Today article. That's not to say the Democrats and Independents aren't as rich and mobile.

You can check out the article, "History of the Mountain West - American History USA." For some making a career of economic mobility from poverty to wealth has become a state of mind or a goal. And for others the goal is poverty to middle class, even as the middle class shrinks. You may wish to see, the NY article, "America's Sinking Middle Class," and the The Washington Post article, "Census: Middle class shrinks to an all-time low."

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