Want to Get Better Sleep? Don’t Think of Yourself as an Insomniac

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Around 10 percent of the population suffers from chronic insomnia, according to the Sleep Management Institute, and for many of those people, insomnia is a psychological issue. In fact, cognitive behavioral therapy is usually the first line of treatment for insomnia, not pills. A recent review of the scientific literature on insomnia in the journal Behaviour Research and Therapy (spotted by BPS Research Digest) identifies yet another piece of the psychological puzzle that could help people with insomnia. According to findings from University of Alabama psychologist Kenneth Lichstein, just identifying as an insomniac can make you feel worse than the lack of sleep does.

Not everyone who sleeps poorly during the night feels equally foggy the next day. The less satisfied you feel with your night's sleep, the worse you probably feel after you wake up. If you get three hours of sleep but aren't worried about it, you're less likely to complain of fatigue and impairment the next day than someone who lies awake beating themselves up over those hours without sleep. Whether or not you think of yourself as an insomniac is surprisingly idiosyncratic, and isn't always tied to your actual sleep quality.

Lichstein calls this "insomnia identity," suggesting that no matter what the quality of your sleep at night, if you think of yourself as an insomniac, you'll probably feel worse. For one thing, if you're primed to think you'll have trouble falling asleep, you'll be far more sensitive to even the mildest of insomnia symptoms. All that stress, in turn, will make it harder to fall asleep, starting the process over again. You'll be primed for disappointment, and probably won't acknowledge any small gains you make, because you'll have a rather fatalistic attitude toward the whole endeavor of sleep. This insomnia identity is tied to all the same negative effects of the not-sleeping itself, including hypertension, fatigue, depression, and anxiety, according to the study.

If identifying as an insomniac really does have such a major impact, therapies designed to improve symptoms of insomnia should be tackling the self-stigma first, helping people get over their conviction that they are irreformable insomniacs so that they can keep an open mind during their treatment. In the process, they'll start to feel better, even if they don't begin to sleep all that much more.

[h/t BPS Research Digest]

Your Smart TV Is Vulnerable to Hackers, According to the FBI

Ahmet Yarali / iStock via Getty Images
Ahmet Yarali / iStock via Getty Images

By this point, many of us have had the experience of mentioning a product or service out loud during a conversation, only to have an ad for that very thing pop up on a smart device mere moments later. And, although you may have gotten used to the idea of your gadgets keeping tabs on you, you might not realize that your new smart TV’s monitoring capabilities make it extra vulnerable to hackers.

KATV reports that the Portland, Oregon branch of the FBI released guidelines last week as part of its “Tech Tuesday” initiative to warn people about the risk of hackers gaining access to unsecured televisions through the routers. Because smart TVs likely have microphones and even cameras, successful hackers could do anything from petty mischief to serious stalking.

“At the low end of the risk spectrum, they can change channels, play with the volume, and show your kids inappropriate videos,” the FBI says. “In a worst-case scenario, they can turn on your bedroom TV’s camera and microphone and silently cyberstalk you.”

Before you head back to Best Buy, brandishing your receipt and begging for a refund, there are a number of safety precautions you can take to make yourself less of an easy target for cyberattacks.

The first step is knowing exactly what features your TV has, and understanding how to control them—the FBI recommends doing an internet search with the model number and the words microphone, camera, and privacy.

After that, you should delve right into those security settings. Disable the collection of personal information if you can, and learn how to limit microphone and camera access. If you don’t see an option to shut off the camera, black tape over it does the trick.

And, even if it’s not the most riveting reading material, it’s worth perusing the fine print on your device and streaming services to find out what data they collect, where they store it, and how they use it.

Check out all of the tips here, and then see what other everyday objects might be susceptible to hackers.

[h/t KATV]

25 Gift Cards That Give You—and Your Recipient—the Best Bang for Your Buck

flyparade/iStock via Getty Images
flyparade/iStock via Getty Images

Though gift cards can definitely solve your annual conundrum over what to buy those hard-to-please people on your list, deciding on a gift card is the easy part—deciding which gift card to give them, however, is where the challenge comes in.

To help you narrow it down, WalletHub devised a multi-factor ranking system for gift cards of all types, from home improvement outlets like Lowe’s to subscription services like Netflix. Researchers analyzed popularity (based on search volume), average buyer’s discount across major gift card exchange sites, average resale value, retailer ratings on popular review sites, and shipping fees, and then assigned an overall score to each of America’s 100 largest retailers.

According to the study, your best option this year is a Target gift card, with an average buyer’s discount of 5.76 percent, a resale value of $77.12, and a retailer rating of 3.09 out of 5.

But before you stock up on Target gift cards for your many friends and family members, you might want to peruse the rest of WalletHub’s data. IKEA, for example, which tied for third place with Home Depot and eBay, boasts an average buyer’s discount of 10.85 percent.

The top performers from the food industry were Starbucks, Chick-fil-A, McDonald’s, and Chipotle, which all tied for fourth place (among several other companies, Netflix and iTunes included) with 50 points apiece.

Even if you’ve already decided which gift cards you’re going with this holiday season, it’s still worth looking at WalletHub’s data before you buy them to make sure you’re getting a discount comparable to (or better than) the average. And, if there’s a particularly choosy recipient on your list who’ll likely try to resell their gift card, perhaps pick one with an especially high resale value, like Costco’s $84.60 or Walmart’s $84.09.

Check out the rankings below, including overall score, and find out the full details from WalletHub’s study here.

  1. Target // Score: 70
  1. Walmart // Score: 60
  1. Sephora // Score: 60
  1. eBay // Score: 55
  1. Home Depot // Score: 55
  1. IKEA // Score: 55
  1. iTunes // Score: 50
  1. Starbucks // Score: 50
  1. Costco // Score: 50
  1. Chick-fil-A // Score: 50
  1. Netflix // Score: 50
  1. McDonald’s // Score: 50
  1. Fandango // Score: 50
  1. Chipotle // Score: 50
  1. REI // Score: 50
  1. Old Navy // Score: 50
  1. H&M // Score: 50
  1. Disney // Score: 45
  1. Google Play // Score: 45
  1. Best Buy // Score: 45
  1. Macy's // Score: 45
  1. Lowe's // Score: 45
  1. Subway // Score: 45
  1. Amazon // Score: 40
  1. Gamestop // Score: 40

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