A ‘sleep coach’ says bad sleep impacts performance more than diet or exercise, and reveals how to combat it

coffee tired caffeine
Bad sleep doesn’t just cause fatigue, irritability, memory problems and poor focus; it works against you in your work as well as in relationships.

  • Entrepreneurs, athletes, and high performers badly need adequate sleep.
  • Good sleep may be more important than diet or exercise, according to sleep coach Floris Wouterson.
  • Here are five tips the coach gave Insider to become a “super-sleeper.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

“He’s a wonderfully creative person, but he shouldn’t be getting very little sleep,” Richard Branson once said, referring to Elon Musk’s late-night tweeting escapades.

Branson isn’t the only one who thinks Musk could benefit from similar advice.

“Entrepreneurs, athletes, and other high performers desperately need good sleep,” Floris Wouterson told Insider, claiming that sleep is even more important than eating or exercising well.

Author of the book “Superslapen,” Wouterson is the first self-proclaimed “sleep performance coach” in Europe.

“Although, that’s not exactly hard, considering I came up with the term myself,” he told Insider. “I’ve been researching everything I could find on optimal sleep for years.”

He then started coaching, with athletes and top managers claiming to benefit greatly from Wouterson’s approach. Wouterson, based in Flanders, Belgium, comes from an entrepreneurial family himself and since 2002, his wife has set up a number of sleeping comfort stores.

Over the past sixteen years, Wouterson spoke to thousands of customers and became increasingly intrigued by sleep, as he too had struggled with poor sleep for a period of time.

According to Wouterson, the consequences of bad sleep are hugely underestimated. “Fatigue, irritability, loss of concentration, forgetfulness… it works against you in your work as well as in your relationships. The risk of injuries or accidents also increases by 40%.”

The long-term effects of bad sleep can also be severe – depression and burn-out can take hold if you don’t relax. Here are the five tips Wouterson gave Insider to become a super-sleeper.

1. Forget the “eight hours of sleep is a must” myth

alarm clock
You have to find your own sleep rhythm, go to sleep at a fixed time, and get up at a fixed time as much as possible.

According to Wouterson, this rigid notion that you must sleep for eight hours can actually cause sleep stress.

“If you think you should sleep eight hours every night, it can work against you,” said the expert. Lying awake and staying in bed because you have to reach eight hours in bed is illogical according to Wouterson.

You have to find your own sleep rhythm, go to sleep at a fixed time, and get up at a fixed time as much as possible. “Don’t stay lying down – it’s a misconception that sleep will come naturally.”

2. Don’t believe stories about super-short sleep

margaret thatcher
Margaret Thatcher is famously said to have slept for only four hours a night.

Stories about CEOs or politicians who only need a few hours of sleep make them sound tough, but according to Wouterson, only a small percentage of people can genuinely cope with little sleep.

It’s possible to train to temporarily sleep less, he said. Wouterson coached Sanne Haarhuis, a pilot in hot-air balloon competitions, to regulate her sleeping pattern and endure heavy, multi-day races with a minimum of sleep. Wouterson also sees top athletes who can quickly refuel with napping.

“You can recharge your batteries with a 12-minute power nap for two hours,” said the sleep expert however, you have to wake up in time before you sink into a very deep sleep.

According to Wouterson, you can achieve this by, for example, holding a bunch of keys in your hand while taking a short nap. “As soon as you sink too deeply, your hand relaxes, the keys fall to the ground and you’re awake again.”

3. Small steps bring about big changes

bed
Letting your mind drift is one thing but, of course, brooding and pondering won’t help if you want to sleep.

Wouterson is convinced there isn’t just one quick fix to sleep better; there are several areas that demand your attention.

“80% of the five main sleeping problems are learned,” he said. You can achieve an enormous amount by taking small steps to alter your diet, exercise, and sleep routine, for example.

But self-examination, looking at your own attitude to sleep, is perhaps most important according to Wouterson.

4. Eat well and take a break from your phone

woman yawing drinking coffee
You can massively change the way you sleep by taking small steps to alter your diet, exercise, and sleep routine, according to the sleep expert.

Eating and resting your head are two things that require extra attention when it comes to ensuring a good night’s sleep.

Wouterson said to choose healthy food and to be careful with carbohydrates, sugar, and alcohol, adding: “A good night’s sleep starts on your plate.”

Letting your mind drift is one thing but, of course, brooding and pondering won’t help if you want to sleep – negative media reports about “the state of affairs in the world” can keep you feeling worrisome, tossing and turning.

Wouterson advises you to focus on your own circle of influence – what are some challenges in your life you can influence yourself? Focus mainly on those things and try not to keep worrying too much about problems you can’t do much about.

A media diet can bring peace – make sure to put your smartphone away in the evening, a few hours before you go to sleep.

5. Employers should see their employees’ sleep as an investment

woman sleeping desk work nap
Offering sleep training or sleeping facilities can actually be a good investment for employers, according to Wouterson.

Keep going, slog away, work through lunch, soldier on, stay an extra hour – it may seem logical to squeeze as much as you can out of your employees but it’s actually counterproductive, according to Wouterson.

Businesses may see a drastic improvement in the performance of their employees when they’ve slept better. The number of mistakes decreases, while better decisions will take the company further.

“As an employer, you don’t exactly want to be in your employees’ bedrooms, but offering sleep training or sleeping facilities can actually be a good investment,” said Wouterson.

According to the sleep performance coach, this is already a common phenomenon in Japan.

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The Japanese eat 10,000 tons of fugu each year. Here’s what makes the poisonous pufferfish so expensive.

There are over 120 species of puffer fish, and 22 different kinds are approved by the Japanese government for use in restaurants. But one is more prized, and more poisonous, than the others: torafugu, or tiger puffer fish.

Wild torafugu is often found at high-end restaurants, where it’s served as perfectly thinly sliced sashimi, deep-fried, and even used to make a hot sake called hirezake. Yamadaya has been serving puffer fish for over 100 years. Their fugu is caught in southern Japan and airlifted alive to their Tokyo restaurants.

In Haedomari Market the fugu is auctioned off using a bag and hidden hand signals. Each potential buyer puts their hand in the bag and makes their bid secretly, before a successful bidder is chosen.

When selling such a dangerous food, safety is paramount. In 2018, a supermarket accidentally sold five packets of the fish that hadn’t had the poisonous liver removed, and the town used its missile-alert system to warn residents.

The tetrodotoxin found in fugu is more toxic than cyanide, and each year about 20 people are poisoned from badly prepared fish.

It takes a lot of skill and training to prepare the fish safely and know which parts are poisonous.

The poisonous parts can vary by species, and hybrid species are appearing now that are even harder to tell apart. One of the hardest things to distinguish between can be the female fugu’s ovaries, which are extremely toxic, and the male’s testicles, which are a delicacy.

The Japanese government tightly control who can prepare fugu, and chefs need to take an extensive exam before they’re legally allowed to serve the fish. This rigorous regulation means that while the fish can be lethal, far more people die from eating oysters than fugu each year.

All of the skill and training that goes into preparing this fish increases the price. The fish is killed seconds before preparation. And while the process looks gruesome as the muscles continue to spasm, the fish is dead.

This method of killing the fish means that the meat stays fresh for longer, and at Yamadaya, the fugu is aged for 24 hours before it’s served. So what does it actually taste like?

There’s another reason tiger fugu is getting more expensive: overfishing.

Tiger puffer fish is near threatened, and in 2005 the Japanese government limited its fishing quotas and seasons. Another popular edible species across Japan, the Chinese puffer fish, has declined in population by 99.9% over the last 45 years.

Farmed versions are much cheaper, and many more affordable chain fugu restaurants are starting to appear, but the farmed version is difficult to raise, and many consumers say it doesn’t taste as good.

Wild fugu’s high price guarantees that it is safely prepared by an expert chef, and when you’re dealing with a potentially deadly fish, that price is reassuringly expensive.

With thanks to Tokyo Convention & Visitors Bureau.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This video was originally published in July 2019.

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A 19-year-old restaurant boss started out buttering toast for $9.25 an hour – now, he earns $50,000 and manages 22 people. Here’s what his workday looks like.

Jason Cabrera smiles while wearing a baseball cap and a black t-shirt while working at his restaurant.
Jason Cabrera, 19, is the general manager for a Layne’s Chicken Fingers restaurant in Allen, Texas.

  • Jason Cabrera, 19, earns $50,000 a year and manages 22 people at Layne’s Chicken Fingers in Texas.
  • Laynes’ CEO said he has made three teenagers managers this year amid the labor shortage.
  • Cabrera said some customers are “shocked” at his young age. Here’s what his day looks like.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Jason Cabrera became a manager of a Texas fast-food restaurant just one week after his 19th birthday. He started out buttering toast and washing dishes for $9.25 per hour, and now earns $50,000 a year in his senior role.

Cabrera, who joined the Allen branch of Layne’s Chicken Fingers in late 2018, took the job in January, as a severe labor shortage pushed the restaurant’s CEO to promote three of its teenage employees to managers.

The young manager took Insider through his average workday, from making a lemonade batch at 8 a.m. to checking in with some of the 22 employees he manages.

At 8 a.m., Cabrera gets into the restaurant before his team arrives and makes a big batch of lemonade for customers.

A parking lot outside a fast food restaurant with a white and red facade on a sunny day.
Layne’s Chicken Fingers restaurant in Allen, Texas.

By 10.30 a.m., all team members have arrived – Cabrera usually manages about eight per shift – and the restaurant is open for its first customers.

Cabrera said that managing 22 people, all aged between 16 and 21 years, forced him to mature quickly.

A restaurant worker wears a black and white baseball cap while working
Cabrera’s staff are all aged between 16 and 21 years.

“When I started working I was still a young kid that liked to have fun,” he said. “That was the problem. I had too much fun but I guess as I started getting into the role and whatnot, I matured so quickly without really noticing.”

Two men work in a restaurant kitchen deep frying food.
Cabrera said that he is on his feet from about 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. every day.

From 10.30 a.m. to 3 p.m., Cabrera is constantly moving, checking in with his team, and dealing with guests.

Asked whether he finds being on his feet all day tiring, Cabrera said that he doesn’t “feel anything” because he’s “really young.”

“Probably once I, you know, start getting older then I’ll start having back problems,” he said.

Two customers in a fast food restaurant with red brick walls are served their food.
Cabrera said that Tuesdays are often very busy with customers when Layne’s offers promotional deals.

On Tuesdays, when Layne’s offers a range of meal deals, including discounts of up to 20%, the restaurant is usually busier.

Cabrera said he particularly enjoys these days because he gets to interact with more guests.

“It’s something I get to look forward to every week,” he said. “I really love seeing our parking lot filled with a bunch of cars.”

A fast food worker wears a grey top and black and white baseball cap while dispensing a soft drink.
Cabrera manages up to eight workers in any given shift.

Cabrera said he enjoys dealing with “shocked” customers who asked to see the manager and don’t expect to see “a 19-year-old kid running a whole store.” Several customers have asked him for his age.

“I love seeing the reaction. It’s really funny,” he said. “They start complimenting me and just letting me know, hey man, when I was your age I wasn’t doing any of that stuff.”

A fast-food worker prepares fries for the deep-fat fryer in a restaurant kitchen.
Cabrera helps out in the kitchen and usually prepares a big batch of lemonade for customers when he arrives at 8 a.m.

At 3 p.m., Cabrera retires to the restaurant’s office to do paperwork, which includes calculating labor costs, ordering inventory, and tallying up sales and drive-through times.

“I crunch those numbers down every week. So the next week we have our corporate meetings here at the office and we go over those numbers,” he said.

A fast food restaurant interior with light wood panels and red walls.
The Allen branch of Layne’s Chicken Fingers is one of eight across Texas.

Cabrera said he has spent much of his time recently trying to recruit workers. Garrett Reed, Layne’s CEO, previously told Insider that he hiked wages for shift managers by 17% to $14-per-hour to entice applicants amid an industry-wide labor shortage.

A fast food worker wears a grey t-shirt and red baseball cap while in the restaurant kitchen.
Cabrera said that much of his time recently has been spent trying to find workers.

At 4 p.m., Cabrera hands over to a shift manager and often goes to watch a baseball game.

After work, Cabrera watches the Texas Rangers in action. His new paycheck means he can do this far more regularly.

“I would only to go to one game a season but now I go to like 12 games a season,” he said.

Read more: I’m a millionaire businessman who was arrested for protesting with restaurant workers. We demand better wages for the employees running our economy.

A fast food restaurant manager wears a black t-shirt and baseball cap while sitting at a high table.
Cabrera said that he has matured quickly since taking on the general manager role.

Cabrera said he is saving part of his $50,000 annual salary to buy his parents a house and eventually open his own Layne’s franchise.

“If I’m smart with my money, which I have been,” he said. “I’ll probably get there real quick.”

A customer wearing a white shirt sits on a bench in a fast food restaurant against a white wall.
Layne’s Chicken Fingers has promoted three workers between 18 and 19-years-old to general manager positions in 2021 amid a labor shortage.

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Insiders reveal how celebrities are responding to recent dating app profile leaks

Ben Affleck (left) and Matthew Perry (right)
Ben Affleck and Matthew Perry (are two celebrities whose purported interactions were leaked online by people they matched with on dating apps.

  • Videos that appeared to show Matthew Perry and Ben Affleck matching with dating app users recently went viral.
  • Dating apps and celebrity advisors are dealing with increased concern over privacy and security.
  • Insider spoke to experts, celebrities, and influencers who explained how online dating is changing.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A string of videos that appear to show celebrities like Ben Affleck and Matthew Perry connecting with dating app users are sending chills through both the entertainment and dating app industries.

Since its launch in 2015, invite-only dating app Raya has advertised itself as an elite platform catering to the needs of celebrities. But in early May 2021, Nivine Jay, an actor and model, posted an explosive TikTok of a video purportedly sent to her by Ben Affleck after she says she unmatched with the actor on Raya. A few days later, Kate Haralson, a TikToker who is a personal assistant for reality TV stars Spencer and Heidi Pratt, similarly went viral by uploading a purported recording of a FaceTime session she said she had with Matthew Perry after matching with him on Raya in May 2020.

These incidents haven’t just happened on Raya. In early June, Twitter user @Stardewlegend posted purported screenshots of “iCarly” actor Jerry Taylor’s verified Bumble profile along with a tweet, “I did not expect dating in LA to be like this.”

These videos have made headlines and received millions of views on social media, shattering any assumption of privacy on dating apps. As dating apps adjust to the reality of leaking, the features and innovations they implement may have a broader impact not only on their most high-profile users, but also everyday people looking for the perfect match.

Insider talked to publicists, dating apps, matchmakers, and influencers to explore how these recent exposures could transform online dating.

Celebrity insiders and experts are more involved in their clients’ dating lives than they may seem

Kelly Cutrone standing with microphone
Publicist Kelly Cutrone.

Kelly Cutrone, the founder of People’s Revolution, a public relations agency, told Insider that celebrities using dating apps is a “bat—- crazy idea.” She said that publicists should generally stay out of their clients’ love lives, but that by using dating apps, celebrities were not just opening themselves up to potentially embarrassing scandals, but they were also making themselves vulnerable to people with bad intentions.

Don Aviv, the president of Interfor International, a security consulting service that works with celebrities, echoed Cultrone’s stance and said he advises high-profile people to avoid these apps altogether. He cited concerns over hacks, fraud, and scams, and argued that regardless of how the app advertises itself, online platforms come with too many risks.

Other experts signaled that they were adjusting to stars seeking love in the digital realm. Howard Bragman, a Hollywood crisis manager, told Insider he believes celebrities are drawn to these platforms because they offer the chance to meet people outside of the entertainment industry. Since stars can’t go to bars and nightclubs anonymously like civilians, they may relish the opportunity to find someone from the comfort of their home, he said.

“Celebrities are actual human beings who have feelings and would like to go out on dates and meet a loved one, so I don’t see any reason they should be denied that,” he said.

Bragman said his celebrity clients have told him about their dating app usage, so he’s prepared for the media fallout in the event of a leak. Matt Yanofsky, a PR and brand specialist, told Insider that in the past, he and other publicists have assisted with curating clients’ dating app profile pictures and interests and that in numerous cases, it’s become an extension of their job of managing a client’s public image.

Influencers and celebrities are moving away from dating apps and using social media to meet people instead

Some influencers have found ways to navigate public-facing apps. Kazzy, a YouTuber with almost 470,000 subscribers, told Insider he refuses to give out his phone number and personal address.

Similarly, Gwen Singer, an Instagram influencer, told Insider that on Bumble and Hinge she goes by an entirely different name, doesn’t link to her social media, and uses non-model photographs because of privacy concerns and to see if she can find a genuine connection without the anxiety that people are treating her differently.

A post shared by GWEN ⚡️ (@gwensinger)

“Let’s see if you’re really interested in talking to me and getting to know who I am,” she said.

Others are moving away from traditional dating apps entirely.

Comedian Ashwin Jacob said he used to prefer Raya when it was more “curated,” but that now, with more chats about networking and fears of being secretly recorded, Instagram is becoming the preferred dating app for many of his influencer friends.

TikToker Gene Park, who has over 460,000 followers, echoed Jacob’s sentiment that Raya has started to lose its allure. He said that for many influencers, Instagram’s direct messaging platform works as a dating app, although he’s dealt with catfishing and scamming attempts on it “multiple times.” He said he hoped ther was “another Raya that comes out soon, that is a lot more exclusive,” with a better filtering process.

According to reporting from The New York Times, in 2018 Raya had an 8% acceptance rate and there were 100,000 people still on the waiting list.

Raya did not immediately respond to Insider’s requests for comment.

Security concerns on apps are changing the face of online dating

Regarding celebrities’ concerns over privacy, a Bumble spokesperson highlighted the app’s Incognito Mode. Included in Bumble Premium, a subscription service that comes with a myriad of features and costs $32.99 a month, Incognito Mode allows users to only be visible to other users whom they swiped right on.

While this may make the app feel more exclusive and curated, it doesn’t account for user behavior and hypothetically, Incognito matches are able to leak celebrity profiles to social media under the company’s current privacy policy.

Some apps are trying to solve this problem. Founded in late 2020, Lox Club, a members-only dating platform for Jewish people, has drawn some buzz and celebrity investors like Bhad Bhabie and Lil Yachty.

According to co-founder Alex Lorraine, there are “around 50,000 people” on the app’s waitlist. He cited his Lox Club’s security measures, such as suspending users who screenshot too many times, and making it easy for people to contact his app to report abusive behavior. Lorraine told Insider there haven’t been instances of leaks and believes that is thanks to the Lox Club’s highly selective curation process which maintains its culture of privacy.

“If you curate your community from the start, you get people that aren’t as willing to leak celebrity profiles,” he said.

Lizz Warner, the founder and CEO of Gleam, a video-chat dating app that is currently only available in Los Angeles and New York City, told Insider that she had discussed the possibility of celebrity leaks with her team of developers. On Gleam, users can only communicate via scheduled video chat dates that solely exist within the app, and later, if there’s compatibility, texts.

According to Warner, since the video chats live on the app and automatically turn off if someone starts a screen recording, it can potentially be helpful for celebrities who are concerned with privacy. She told Insider that in Los Angeles, a number of influencers have already joined.

Haralson, who leaked the purported video of Matthew Perry, said that while some people accused her of being the catalyst for Perry’s split with his then-fiance, which she refutes, others responded positively, telling her she was highlighting the dating dynamic of how “easy it is for young girls to be wooed by these older men with money.”

Multiple sources told Insider that they noticed that celebrities became more drawn to dating apps during the COVID-19 lockdown. As restrictions are lifted, dating will potentially go back offline, with people returning to mingling in dimly lit bars and parties. But these concerns of safety and privacy will surely persist, leaving an opening for the next crop of members-only apps to continue to sell the elusive promise of digital exclusivity.

To read more stories like this, check out Insider’s digital culture coverage here.

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Here’s what would happen to life on Earth if the moon disappeared

  • Each year, the moon drifts an estimated 1.5 inches further away from Earth.
  • Turns out, the moon isn’t just a beacon of light in the night sky; its existence is crucial to the delicate balancing act that makes life on Earth possible.
  • The moon has the largest influence on Earth’s tides and, without it, high and low tides would shrink by an estimated 75%.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Following is a transcript of the video.

Narrator: Our moon is on the move. Each year, it drifts an estimated 1.5 inches further away from Earth. And in the process, Earth’s rotation is actually slowing down. What if one night, the moon simply disappeared? Would we miss it?

A full moon is on average 14,000 times brighter than the next brightest night-sky object, Venus. So without it, every night would be as dark as a new moon. And star gazing would be spectacular.

But by the next morning, you’d begin to realize just how important the moon is for life on Earth. To start, between the sun, Earth’s rotation, and the moon, the moon has the largest influence on Earth’s tides.

Without it, high and low tides would shrink by an estimated 75%. This would jeopardize the lives of many types of crabs, mussels, and sea snails that live in tidal zones and disrupt the diets of larger animals who rely on them for food, threatening entire coastal ecosystems in the process. Within a few decades, we would start to see mass population declines in the sea and on land.

One of the largest spawning events in the world occurs in the Great Barrier Reef. Each November in the days following the light of a full moon, coral colonies across the reef – spanning an area larger than the state of New Mexico – release millions of egg and sperm sacs within nearly minutes of one another. Scientists are certain that the full moon plays a role in the timing, but exactly how remains a mystery.

On land, animals like these Red Crabs also use lunar cues to reproduce. After living most of their lives in the mountains, millions of adult crabs migrate down to shore. And then, only during the last quarter of the moon, females release their eggs into the sea.

Now, the moon may not hold as much sway over human reproduction. But without it, something else we care equally about would change – the weather. Tides and tidal currents help mix cold arctic waters with warmer waters in the tropics. This balances temperatures and stabilizes the climate worldwide. Without the moon, weather forecasts would be practically impossible. The average difference between the hottest and coldest places on Earth could grow to life-threatening extremes.

But none of this compares to the biggest change that we would have coming over the next millennia. Right now, Earth tilts on its axis at 23.5º mostly due to the moon’s gravity. If the moon disappeared, Earth’s axis would wobble between anywhere from 10 to 45º.

Some experts estimate that Jupiter could help keep Earth’s tilt from reeling completely out of control. But even just an extra 10º tilt could wreak havoc on the climate and seasons.
In the past, Earth’s tilt has changed by about 1-2º, which scientists think could have caused Ice Ages in the past. It’s hard to know what a 10º or 45º tilt would do but probably nothing good for most life on Earth.

The moon isn’t just imperative for life on Earth today. Experts believe that it may also have played a key role in the formation of life more than 3.5 billion years ago. Turns out, the moon isn’t just a beacon of light in the night sky. Its existence is crucial to the delicate balancing act that makes life here possible.

Video courtesy of Instagram/@Norazian, Instagram/faulkner_photography

EDITOR’S NOTE: This video was originally published in March 2018.

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A startup that can ‘translate’ baby cries is now exploring early detection of autism in newborns

baby crying
Laguna was looking for a way to know what her baby was telling her so she decided to found Zoundream.

  • Founded two years ago, Zoundream specializes in cataloging and translating baby cries.
  • In its first round of funding last October, Zoundream raised just under $1 million.
  • The company now wants to expand into early-stage detection of atypical developments in newborns.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

We all know children don’t come into the world with a “how-to” guide.

During the first months of a newborn’s life, it’s often a struggle for parents not just to meet their baby’s needs but simply to know what they are.

However much a new parent may want to soothe their baby’s endless desperate crying, it can be challenging without knowing what they want.

Many resign themselves to one of their first lessons as parents: they won’t always understand their children.

In the age of the Internet of Things, smartphones, and tablets, however, some are using tech to explore modern ways of working around age-old problems.

Ana Laguna, a 33-year-old scientist and expert in data management, gave birth to her first child in 2016.

crying baby
Zoundream was born out of a single idea: the way newborn babies express their needs is universal.

After a few hours of crying, she had a thought – there had to be a way of translating a newborn’s cries.

The idea seemed such an obvious one that she assumed there must already have been a company that had successfully developed some kind of device or app, but the only thing she could find was a Korean application that was just about functioning.

Taken aback by what seemed somewhat of a technological oversight, her intuition soon turned into a project: she would record her own baby’s cry to look for patterns.

“Many projects come about by mistake or by necessity. Mine is one of the latter,” Laguna told Insider.

Over the years, Laguna’s project transformed into a fully-fledged company, Zoundream.

The company specializes in developing software to translate newborn babies’ cries, particularly those up to the age of six months.

After raising just under $1 million in its first round of funding in October 2020, Zoundream now wants its studies to help detect atypical developments in newborns at an early stage.

There have been several stages in Zoundream’s development to get it to where it is now.

baby sleeping next to baby monitor
The company specializes in developing software to translate newborn babies’ cries, particularly those up to the age of six months.

Laguna’s first major concern was to find out whether babies from different countries cry differently.

If, for instance, the cry of a German baby were different from that of a Spanish baby, that would have significantly reduced the software’s potential audience – as well as the viability of the whole project.

After many hours of gathering information through scientific publications on the subject and analysis of sound samples, Zoundream came to a conclusion – although there were notable differences in the prosody of the cry, the content is always the same across languages.

In other words, though German and Spanish babies may sound different, they’re essentially trying to say the same thing.

The only thing left to do was to get the business going – that’s where Roberto Iannone, the company’s current CEO, comes in.

Hundreds of kilometers away from Laguna, almost at the same time as her, Iannone, an entrepreneur, had already had a similar idea. So, when a colleague told him about Laguna and her studies on crying patterns in newborns, which were already beginning to gain some traction in the press, Iannone knew what he needed to do.

Zoundream was born out of a single idea – while there are more than 7,000 languages in the world, the way newborn babies express their needs is universal.

Now the company translates babies’ cries into five types: hunger, sleep, pain, gas, and attachment or the desire to be held.

breastfeeding
The company translates babies’ cries into five types: hunger, sleep, pain, gas, and attachment.

This classification method works best on infants up to the age of three months, when crying is more genuine. From this point on, according to Laguna, the baby’s brain synapses become more complex – they start to be able to learn at full speed.

As a result, babies start using certain strategies to get what they want.

In other words, human beings learn to lie before they learn to speak.

After the birth of her second child, Laguna decided she didn’t just want to record her own child’s cries; she wanted for other parents to be able to contribute to the project.

A newborn cries an average of two to three hours a day. Over time, Zoundream managed to collect thousands and thousands of hours of cries analyzed using spectrograms, from Europe, Asia, and the entire American continent.

This means tZoundream is already working on refining translations through devices that are still just prototypes.

Zoundream is building partnerships with companies that, in the coming years, will make it possible to integrate this technology in prams, bracelets, or even in surveillance cameras.

The one condition is that the system has to be automatic.

Autism awareness
Zoundream wants to move towards detecting atypical developments through the way babies cry.

“When a child cries, their parents will go to attend to them and entirely forget about the mobile phone and everything,” says Laguna.

In addition to the audio, the company started to receive feedback.

“I remember, for example, a mother who said that her son wouldn’t stop crying. The recordings told us that he was hungry,” says Laguna. “It didn’t make sense to her, because she kept breastfeeding him. Eventually, she told us that we were right, that the doctor had detected a problem with his lingual frenulum and that he wasn’t feeding well.”

Cases like these have inspired Zoundream’s team to try to take the next leap and detect atypical developments through the way babies cry.

Some cases, she says, are obvious: “The cry of a child on the autistic spectrum is very characteristic, very hoarse. You can see it quite clearly on the spectrogram.”

By doing this, Laguna explains, the company hopes to help improve the early diagnosis possibilities, which can greatly improve quality of life.

“In cases of early diagnosis,” she says, “autism is detected at around the age of two. Imagine the improvement if it could be done before the age of six months.”

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We are lawmakers from 5 states that finally put an end to child marriage. It’s past time for the other 45 US states to follow our lead.

A woman in a white dress is shown from the neck down with a red stop sign-shaped sign reading "Stop child marriage in the US!" She is holding flowers and has a chain wrapped around her wrist.
A demonstrator wearing a bridal gown takes part in a protest urging legislators to end Massachusetts child marriage at the Massachusetts State House in Boston on March 27, 2019.

  • Bipartisan legislators who ended child marriage in five states call on their colleagues in the other US states to follow their lead.
  • Child marriage creates a legal trap for minors, who often cannot file for divorce.
  • Don’t cave to loopholes or compromises; there is no reason for marriage before age 18.
  • State Representative Kim Williams has served in the Delaware General Assembly since 2012.
  • Senator Sandy Pappas has served in the Minnesota Senate since 1990.
  • This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the authors.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

We ended a human rights abuse in our five states. And now we, a bipartisan group of state legislators, call on lawmakers in the remaining 45 states to do the same. End child marriage – an archaic, sexist practice that destroys girls’ lives – even if you get the pushback we got at first.

Unless you live in Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, or Rhode Island, child marriage is legal in your state. In our states, we partnered with the nonprofit organization Unchained At Last to close the dangerous legal loopholes that allowed it.

Child marriage is a nightmare of a legal trap

Nearly 300,000 children were married legally in the United States between 2000 and 2018, Unchained found. Most were girls wed to adult men with an average age difference of four years. Nearly all were age 16 or 17, though a few were as young as 10.

Even for the most mature 17-year-olds, marriage creates a nightmarish legal trap. They can be entered into marriage by a parent and/or a judge, with little or no input from them, before they even have the basic legal rights to navigate a contract as serious as marriage.

Minors typically cannot leave home to escape from parents planning an unwanted wedding or leave an abusive spouse until they are 18. They also usually cannot enter a domestic violence shelter, since these shelters usually turn away unaccompanied minors.

Children cannot easily retain an attorney, since contracts with children, including retainer agreements, typically are voidable. They usually cannot even file for divorce independently. Minors typically are not allowed to bring a legal action in their own name.

Even when it is not forced, marriage before 18 is a human rights abuse, according to the US State Department. It destroys nearly every aspect of American girls’ lives, from their education and economic opportunities to their health. It also triples a girl’s risk of experiencing domestic violence.

Child marriage also undermines statutory rape laws. Some 60,000 marriages since 2000 occurred at an age or with a spousal age difference that should have been considered a sex crime, according to Unchained.

Don’t cave to compromise. End child marriage.

You probably will get opposition when you introduce the simple, commonsense legislation we introduced in our states, which eliminated the dangerous loopholes that allowed marriage before age 18.

Do not compromise. Do not replace one loophole with another; insist on a marriage age of 18 – or higher if the age of adulthood is higher in your state – without exceptions. There is no room for negotiation when you are ending a human rights abuse.

You will hear, as we did, from legislators and others whose grandmothers married at 14. Remind them that the world has changed since grandma was a kid.

You will hear arguments about young love. Respond by asking what harm comes to a young couple if they wait a matter of months to marry. Minors must wait until 18 to enter almost any other contract, regardless of how passionately they feel about it.

But what if a girl is pregnant, some will ask you. If the girl is too young to consent to sex, we should investigate a rape, not plan a wedding. Either way, we would be harming, not helping, if we married off pregnant girls. Studies show teen mothers in the US who marry are more likely to suffer economic deprivation and instability than teen mothers who stay single.

A teen mother who wants to co-parent with the father of the baby can easily do so outside of marriage. He can simply establish paternity, and his insurance and other benefits would cover the baby. We no longer have illegitimacy laws that punish babies born “out of wedlock.”

Do not be swayed by the religious argument. We do not know of any religion that requires child marriage; actually, several major religions have supported legislation to end child marriage. Besides, the US Supreme Court has upheld laws that incidentally forbid an act required by religion, if the laws do not target religious practice.

Ending child marriage does not impact reproductive rights. The US Supreme Court has established that states should treat minors’ abortions differently from minors’ marriage, because the former is time sensitive while the latter is not.

Do not agree to a loophole that allows emancipated minors to be subjected to a human rights abuse. Emancipation is for teens who cannot be reunited with their parents; it gives them some rights of adulthood so they can fend for themselves. Teens do not need marriage to fend for themselves.

Teens do not need marriage, period. If they are in an abusive home or cannot get health insurance from their parents, they deserve resources that do not require them to enter a contractual sexual relationship.

Under United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 5.3, the US joined 192 other countries in promising to end child marriage by 2030. We have achieved that goal in five states so far, despite initial resistance from our colleagues.

Now we urge our fellow lawmakers in the 45 other states: Please join us. Every child in the US is relying on us to keep our promise to the world and end all marriage before 18. No exceptions. No compromises.

Delaware Rep. Kim Williams

Delaware Former Sen. Anthony Delcollo

New Jersey Sen. Nellie Pou

New Jersey Asm. Nancy Munoz

Pennsylvania Rep. Perry Warren

Pennsylvania Rep. Jesse Topper

Pennsylvania Sen. John Sabatina

Minnesota Sen. Sandra Pappas

Minnesota Rep. Kaohly Her

Rhode Island Rep. Julie Casimiro

Rhode Island Sen. John Burke

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I canceled my subscription to Amazon Prime right as the pandemic lockdowns began and 12 months later I don’t miss it at all

Jeff Bezos
Amazon cofounder and former CEO Jeff Bezos.

  • It turns out that Amazon Prime isn’t necessary, even if you’re ordering from Amazon frequently.
  • I canceled my subscription in May 2020, and it has had zero impact on order speed or pricing.
  • On the plus side, I’m saving at least $120 annually on the expensive membership fee.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

In April 2020, just as the pandemic lockdowns were taking effect in New York City, I canceled the Amazon Prime subscription my wife and I shared.

In the year-plus since that subscription ended, I’ve not missed it a single time – and we’re saving $130 annually, plus tax, by not paying for the service.

We aren’t anti-Amazon crusaders by any means: This year so far, I’ve placed 15 separate orders for products delivered through Amazon. Last year, the total was 20 orders.

How much were my shipping costs for all of those orders? A grand total of $17.57 for 2020, and a whopping $12.26 in 2021 so far.

That includes two air conditioners (with free shipping), two large Tommy Bahama beach chairs (again, free shipping), and a variety of gifts sent to a relatively remote town in Pennsylvania.

Email from Amazon after canceling Amazon Prime subscription.
In the email confirming my Amazon Prime cancelation there is a massive button to re-join Amazon Prime, naturally.

While it’s true that some of those items we purchased would’ve come with a slight discount through Prime, or that some would’ve been delivered the very next day (rather than two or three days later), it’s extremely unlikely that those discounts would add up to the over $100 difference between what we’re paying in shipping now versus what we were paying for a Prime membership.

Moreover, even without a Prime membership, most items we buy through Amazon are delivered shockingly fast.

Living in Brooklyn, not too far from a major Amazon distribution center on Staten Island, assuredly doesn’t hurt! But I’ve had similarly positive experiences sending gifts through Amazon to family in Pennsylvania and Ohio, where packages arrived days ahead of projected arrival times.

But what about Prime Video? Frankly, we weren’t using it, and we’re already paying for Netflix, Hulu, and HBO Max. I can name specific reasons for those subscriptions – shows, movies, or entire libraries that justify the ongoing subscription fee. With rare exception, that didn’t happen with Prime Video for us.

More often than not, the video we did want to watch on Prime Video still required a rental fee. That happened enough times that we stopped turning on the service altogether.

My context isn’t everyone else’s context, of course. My wife and I don’t have kids, we live in a major city, and we own a car. Frankly, there weren’t a lot of good reasons for us specifically to pay for Amazon Prime.

Do we really need the Frankie’s Spuntino cookbook delivered the next day, or is it okay if we wait a few days? I kinda think we’ll survive.

But maybe you’re a new parent and you need diapers tomorrow, no matter what? Or you’ve got a job that keeps you from getting errands done during normal business hours? Or any other number of perfectly reasonable situations? I get it!

There is more to the calculation here than strictly financials, and the decision depends on a lot. For $120 annually, though? It’s a decision worth considering.

Got a tip? Contact Insider senior correspondent Ben Gilbert via email (bgilbert@insider.com), or Twitter DM (@realbengilbert). We can keep sources anonymous. Use a non-work device to reach out. PR pitches by email only, please.

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For $15 a month, MasterClass offers beautifully filmed online video classes led by celebrities – here are 16 of our favorites

When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.

Masterclass E Learning 4x3
MasterClass helps you learn new skills from experts in the field.

Who better to teach you how to write for television than Shonda Rhimes or hit a powerful backhand than Serena Williams?

Unfortunately, 23-time-Grand-Slam-winners and famed showrunners aren’t easy to contact. So, MasterClass is bridging the gap and recruiting the best of the best to teach us the secrets to their crafts.

Keep scrolling for some of the most popular MasterClass classes.

All-Access Pass (medium)

Unlike most e-learning platforms focused on teaching hard skills like cloud computing or UX design, MasterClass targets a different audience: lifelong learners.

You can learn about writing, cooking, sports, business, wellness, and more – with each topic taught by an expert. For $180 a year (or $15 a month), you can access all the courses on the site.

We report on many education platforms, and MasterClass is one of our favorites (as well as one of our go-to gifts). The videos have great production value, courses are engaging and fast-moving, and you get a mix of practical tools as well as nuggets of insights into the lives of the celebrities we love. Plus, the app makes using MasterClass very easy; I’ve even listened to the audio-only versions like pseudo podcasts.

What you’ll find below:

  1. Some common FAQs
  2. A list of the 16 best MasterClass courses
  3. A personal review of MasterClass

All-Access Pass (medium)

MasterClass FAQs:

  1. How much does it cost? MasterClass costs $180 for its annual subscription ($15 a month), which gives you unlimited access to all its classes until you cancel. 
  2. Is it worth it? If you will use MasterClass more than a few times, yes, the yearly pass may be worth it. If you won’t, or you need something more intensive or traditionally academic, consider other online learning sites like Coursera or edX
  3. How does MasterClass work? MasterClass classes are about 2-5 hours on average, with individual lessons ranging from 2-5 minutes. Classes include pre-recorded video lessons by your instructor, a class workbook, interactive assignments, and sometimes community activities. MasterClass may have opportunities for students to submit work to instructors for feedback, but that’s not the norm. 

Some of the best MasterClass classes:

Ron Finley teaches gardening

Masterclass Ron Finley teaches gardening

Learn gardening with Ron Finley

Ron Finley has launched a movement around an unusual form of protest: gardening. In 2011, Finley was issued an arrest warrant for planting fruits and vegetables on the curbside strip outside his home in South Central LA — a food desert. Two years later, his story helped change LA laws and, a decade later, he’s helped plant dozens of community gardens. In his MasterClass, Finley teaches you how to grow your own food, avoid killing your plants, and the beauty and community you can find in healthy food. Read a review of the course here.

Samuel L. Jackson teaches acting

samuel jackson

Learn how to act with Samuel L. Jackson

It’s hard to believe now that Samuel L. Jackson had a stutter growing up, one that actually stopped him from talking for a year. You can learn about how he overcame this obstacle to become an Oscar nominee in this course on acting, which particularly focuses on how to develop a character. 

Thomas Keller teaches cooking techniques

thomas keller

Learn cooking techniques with Thomas Keller

Chef Thomas Keller’s restaurants, like The French Laundry, have been awarded quite a few Michelin stars and have people eagerly waiting months at a time for reservations. In his MasterClass, he breaks down the basics of some of the most essential cooking techniques, like braising meats and making stocks. Read a review of the course (and other MasterClass cooking courses) here.

Serena Williams teaches tennis

serena williams

Learn how to play tennis with Serena Williams

If you want to be a pro, you have to practice like one. Get the chance to experience the same drills Serena runs every day, as well as some insight into the importance of mental strength in the game. 

Questlove teaches DJing

Questlove

Learn music curation and DJing with Questlove

Questlove — iconic DJ, Grammy winner, and The Roots drummer — teaches collecting and mixing music. You’ll learn how to transition from genre to genre to curate the perfect playlist, whether just for yourself or to wow your friends.

Margaret Atwood teaches creative writing

margaret atwood

Learn the art of creative writing with Margaret Atwood

Writer’s block is a major challenge, but hopefully, some inspiration from Margaret Atwood can bring you out of your funk. The Man Booker Prize-winner’s lessons delve into character development, point of view, structuring a novel, and more. Read a review of the course here.

Annie Leibovitz teaches photography

annie leibovitz

Learn photography with Annie Leibovitz

Annie Leibovitz claims the title of first-ever female chief photographer at “Rolling Stone,” along with plenty of other accomplishments. Here, she sheds light on her photography philosophy and shows how a great photo comes to life. 

Christina Aguilera teaches singing

christina aguilera

Learn how to sing with Christina Aguilera

Whether you want to fine-tune your vocal craft or have no musical experience beyond singing “happy birthday” to your friends and family, Christina Aguilera has the techniques to help you take it up a notch. The Grammy Award winner gives you practical tips on how to polish your sound as well as share some stories about her career trajectory. 

Apollonia Poilâne teaches bread baking

Masterclass Apollonia Poilâne teaches bread baking

Learn bread baking with Apollonia Poilâne

Apollonia Poilâne, the third-generation baker and CEO of the famous Parisian bakery Poilâne, teaches you how to use all of your senses when baking an ideal loaf from scratch. She outlines best practices for a variety of French breads — rustic wheat, rye, brioche, and her beloved sourdough loaves — with warmth and clarity. Read a review of the course (and other MasterClass cooking courses) here.

Neil deGrasse Tyson teaches scientific thinking and communication

Neil deGrasse Tyson

Learn how to think like a scientist with Neil deGrasse Tyson

Ivy League degrees, bestselling books, and a Grammy award are just some of Neil deGrasse Tyson’s accolades. In this course, the renowned astrophysicist will help you see into the mind of a scientist, giving you plenty of skills to help you strengthen the way you think and communicate along the way. 

Carlos Santana teaches the art and soul of guitar

carlos

Learn how to play the guitar with Carlos Santana

If you’re looking for a classic, technical guitar lesson, this course probably isn’t for you. If, however, you’re looking to understand how one of the world’s most popular guitarists approaches the instrument, draws inspiration for his music, and found his unique sound, you’ll love this class with Carlos Santana. 

Bob Iger teaches business strategy and leadership

bob iger

Learn business strategies and leadership skills with Bob Iger

As the former CEO and current Executive Chairman of the Walt Disney Company, Bob Iger was responsible for some of the brand’s most important acquisitions, including Pixar, Marvel, and Lucasfilm. His lesson dives into everything from business insights from the acquisition process to how to use your time effectively and productively.

Kelly Wearstler teaches interior design

kelly wearstler

Learn how to design your space with Kelly Wearstler

Ever wondered how to make your space look like it’s plucked off an “Architectural Digest” page while still feeling like it’s distinctly yours? It’s a tall order, but Kelly Wearstler has designed enough celebrity homes and boutique hotels to give you all the tips and tricks you need to know to redefine your own space. You’ll learn how to choose colors for any room, make a space feel larger, and even curate an art collection. 

Chris Voss teaches the art of negotiation

Chris Voss

Learn the art of negotiation with Chris Voss

During his time as an FBI hostage negotiator, Chris Voss mastered all of the facets of communication and compromise. While your everyday negotiations may not be as high-stake, Voss’s strategies can help you get the outcomes you want — whether it’s a promotion at your job or a big decision in your relationship. 

Dominique Ansel teaches French pastry fundamentals

dominique ansel

Learn French pastry fundamentals with Dominique Ansel

Dominque Ansel is revered for his creative takes on delicious pastries, like the Cronut, a croissant-donut hybrid that garners hours-long lines outside of his SoHo bakery in New York. In this course, you’ll learn the precise technique Ansel uses to bake his famous treats. Fruit tarts, chocolate cakes, and mini madeleines are just some of the desserts you’ll learn to bake. 

Daniel Negreanu teaches poker

daniel poker

Learn how to play poker with Daniel Negreanu

There’s no one better to help you perfect your poker face than Daniel Negreanu — he’s won the World Series of Poker six times. He’ll help you learn even the most complex poker concepts so you can increase your win rate the next time you sit around the felt. 

A review of MasterClass:

MasterClass is one of my favorite online learning platforms, and I’ve had personal experience with a fair share of them (Coursera, Skillshare, edX, Rosetta Stone, CreativeLive, and so on).

Compared to many online courses, MasterClass’s follow the format of a one-sided conversation more than an academic setting, which can make learning feel more engaging.

I love that I’m able to learn conventional and not-so-conventional tricks and tips from giants of any industry — some of whom are on my shortlist of favorite authors, actors, musicians, and chefs. Classes are pretty short (2-5 hours total), and the lessons are between 5-25 minutes each.

I also get access to notes, additional reading resources, and a community. And it’s nice that I can download lessons or use Audio Mode in the car as a de facto audiobook on days when my attention span is low. 

Plus, the diversity, quality, and flexibility of its online classes is hard to beat. If I’m going through a cooking phase, I can watch bite-sized clips that are interesting and useful. And if something isn’t my number one passion, the allure of a “master” helps me remain interested in the lessons. 

Personally, I enjoy having yearly access. If you’re a lifelong learner, it gives you the ability to jump around different subjects with tools like “topic playlists” that queue up stuff you might like. For me, it’s worth the $180 — it’s informative without feeling overly stringent or overwhelming. But if you’re interested in deep-diving into only one topic, I’d recommend auditing a class at Coursera or edX rather than dropping $180 just to access one MasterClass. — Mara Leighton, senior reporter

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One of the world’s most famous historians has a crucial piece of advice on interviewing: ‘Shut up!’

Working: Researching, Interviewing, Writing (Robert Caro)
Robert A. Caro is the author of “The Power Broker,” “The Years of Lyndon Johnson,” and now, “Working: Researching, Interviewing, Writing.”

  • Historian and journalist Robert A. Caro is most well-known for his seminal work “The Power Broker.”
  • In an uncharacteristically short book published in 2019, Caro detailed the process behind his work.
  • It contains a brilliant piece of advice that everyone could use: Shut up!
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “The Power Broker” and “The Years of Lyndon Johnson,” Robert A. Caro, is known for his meticulously researched, thoroughly reported biographies.

His voluminous works are celebrated, as is his dedication to his craft: Caro and his wife Ina have outright moved their residence multiple times in service of his books, so that they could experience the world as the subjects of his books might have. Collectively, they’ve spent tens of thousands of hours poring over documents, conducting interviews, and much more – all in the service of thoroughly, accurately portraying the lives of his books’ subjects.

Which is why Caro’s latest book, “Working: Researching, Interviewing, Writing,” is so particularly fascinating.

robert moses
Robert Moses, right, chairman of Mayor Robert Wagner’s Slum Clearance Committee, photographed on March 4, 1958, Randall’s Island, NY. Moses was the main subject of “The Power Broker.”

In “Working,” for the first time ever, Caro details the fascinating process behind his process.

The book is tremendously useful if you’re at all interested in researching and writing non-fiction, but there’s one particularly useful piece of advice for anyone: “Interviews: silence is the weapon, silence and people’s need to fill it – as long as the person isn’t you, the interviewer,” Caro writes in a chapter titled “Tricks of the Trade.”

Caro likens his own interviewing process to those of fictional interviewers Inspector Maigret and George Smiley, at least in one distinct way: All three “have little devices they use to keep themselves from talking.” In the case of Maigret, Caro says, he cleans his pipe. And in the case of Smiley, he cleans his glasses.

Caro does something far more pedestrian: He writes reminders for himself to shut up.

“When I’m waiting for the person I’m interviewing to break a silence by giving me a piece of information I want, I write ‘SU’ (for Shut Up!) in my notebook,” Caro says. “If anyone were to ever look through my notebooks, he would find a lot of ‘SUs’ there.”

Whether you’re interviewing a subject or interviewing a job candidate, the same logic applies: Shut up! How that person responds to silence could speak volumes.

Check out Robert Caro’s new book, “Working: Researching, Interviewing, Writing” right here.

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