We’ve all heard of sleep-walking. Even sleep-eating. And we all know someone guilty of drunk-texting. But could you be suffering from sleep-texting? In this hyper-connected, digital age in which we live, sleep-texting is a real phenomenon and may even be on the rise.
In February, CNN reported that while hard data is lacking about this growing cultural trend, anecdotal evidence has been mounting over the past few years of people suffering from sleep-texting. Twitter users are regularly recounting the strange messages they’ve sent while sleeping with the hashtag #sleeptexting. Here are just a few examples:
- Best advice I ever gave in my #sleeptexting mode: “Pag nag-Quiapo underpass ka, andun lahat ng sagot. It’s like Narnia.” #why #sorry
- So apparently, I send text messages to people in the middle of night… I had no clue. #SleepTexting
- The premed student wears mittens each night — to protect against #sleeptexting.
- Watch out ……… Stop Touching me……..Get out of the way, move…….I can’t find my pizza. #sleeptexting
One reason why people may be sleep-texting is the fact that we’re never without our cellphones, not even in bed. A survey by the Pew Research Center indicated that 65 percent of adults who own cellphones say they slept with their phones on or right next to their beds. That number is even higher among younger cellphone users. Approximately 90 percent of all young adults (18-29) say they sleep with their cellphones in close proximity.
While some of the sleep-texts may be humorous, doctors say sleep-texting is no laughing matter. Sleep-texting could even have some serious health consequences, sleep specialist Dr. Josh Werber explained to CBS New York.
Sleep-texters aren’t “getting the deep sleep or the rapid eye movement, which is really critical to higher brain function,” Werber said.
Dr. Shelby Harris, director of behavior sleep medicine at Montefiore Medical Center in New York, described sleep-texting to CNN as having your brain on autopilot.
“Think about the rate at which people are texting nowadays, and most people sleep right next to (their phones), so if they wake up, it’s another automatic behavior,” Harris said.
So what’s a sleep-texter to do? The Ohio Sleep Medicine Institute offers the following suggestions:
- Turn off your cellphone or block incoming sound alerts from emails or texts.
- Don’t sleep with your cellphone next to your bed.
- When using the alarm clock feature of your cellphone, place your phone at a distance from your bed.
- Since lack of sleep tends to trigger sleep-texting behavior, avoid sleep deprivation by ensuring you receive an adequate amount of sleep, keep a regular sleep schedule on weekdays and weekends, and follow good sleep hygiene.
- Avoid texting immediately before going to bed.
- If you are a parent, consider asking your child or teenager to hand over the phone for the night.