Sleep-texting – the act of sending text messages during sleep and not recalling the action – is the latest phenomenon to impact sleep.
Sleep-texting mostly occurs with adolescents – who tend to need nine hours of sleep per night – and sleep with their phones next to their beds. And many of them do. Research shows that four out of five teens sleep with their phones nearby.
Research also shows that if a teen’s phone beeps at night, he/she will answer it – and won’t remember texting in the morning. The teen is half-asleep and half-awake. They then complete the automatic behavior of responding to the text. According to US News, Elizabeth Dowdell, a nursing professor at Villanova University, surveyed 300 students and learned that 25 to 35 percent sent a text while asleep.
Communicating while sleeping isn’t new to sleep experts; people also talked on their landline phones while asleep. Many felt the pressure of living in an “on call” society, researchers say. Prior to sleep-texting, the phenomenon was called the “on call effect,” because people – specifically doctors – would have phone conversations but not recall them the next day.
Biological changes during puberty make it harder for teens to fall asleep and stay asleep, according to WebMD. Sleep-texting can be interrupting that much-needed rest. And without sleep, teens are at increased risk for obesity, high blood pressure, depression, behavioral problems, and drug abuse.
Sleep-texting can impact adults, too. Although sleep-texting can hurt sleep in the long-term, the immediate impact is not hurtful to health. Many teens joke about their sleep-texting incidents, sharing it via social media. In a way, sleep-texting has become a cultural trend. Twitter has a hashtag #sleeptexting that is used frequently.
Do you text in your sleep?
To stop sleep-texting, try turning off your phone, putting your phone in do not disturb mode, or placing it in an area that is not easy to reach. Try using a sleep monitor such as Fitbit or the Plex® Sleep Scanner to help monitor times that you unknowingly wake up in the middle of night. Somnology’s app SomnologyMobileDoc for iOS integrates with your Fitbit or the Plex [Coming Soon] (or you can log your sleep manually) to get detailed insights into your sleeping behavior.