For a country full of people in need of more sleep, we sure get a lot done while we’re snoozing. We walk and talk in our sleep, make sandwiches, go out driving, and even commit crimes. Now sleep-disorder specialists say that texting while sleeping is a burgeoning trend.
The phenomenon is relatively harmless but does signal a collision at the intersection of smartphone addiction and sleep deprivation. Experts have noted before the many ways in which technology intrudes on healthy, restorative sleep, and how looking at a flickering screen near bedtime excites the brain at a time when stimuli should be at a minimum.
Subconscious texting can also lead to some compromising situations. Elizabeth Dowdell, a professor of nursing at Villanova University, has looked into sleep-texting among college students and learned that things can get pretty embarrassing when Freud is doing the thumb work.Dowdell told “US News & World Report” of one young woman who becomes sentimental and romantic in her sleep.
“A classmate texted her something about anatomy class, and her reply back was, ‘I just love it. I love you! You’re the light of my life,’” Dowdell said. “Then there was an old boyfriend who texted her, and she sent responses like, ‘I adore you, please come over,’ while she was asleep. She was mortified when she realized.”
Dowdell also mentioned a premed student who sleeps with mittens on to protect herself from her phone.
Between 25 and 35 percent of the 300 students surveyed by Dowdell said they have sent text messages while sleeping, and half admitted allowing technology to interfere with their sleep in some way. Formal research is lacking on the subject of sleep-texting, but it appears to track closely with increased prevalence of intense smartphone use. “US News” quotes research from the Pew Internet & American Life Project suggesting that 1 in 3 teens send more than 100 text messages per day, and at least 4 in 5 sleep with their phone on or near the bed.
See more sleep-text stories and confessions under the hashtag #sleeptexting. And if you’re concerned about what messages you may send from your slumber, consider the extraordinary step of powering down your phone at night. It really can wait till morning…
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