In this day and age, who doesn’t sleep with their cell phone close by on their nightstand? Almost a unanimous show of raised hands. We are ever plugged in, checking for new texts, emails, Facebook updates, or something exciting coming through on Twitter. As a result of our love for all techno gadgets, a new phenomenon has arrived on the scene: sleep texting.
Most of us can conjure up a classic image in our heads when someone mentions the word sleepwalking, that is to say the unusual behavior of walking around while you are still totally asleep. Sleep texting is somewhat similar. You read a text and then respond to the text in question while you are still sound asleep. It is not surprising that this phenomenon is on the rise, especially in teenagers and even pre-teens, who are almost handcuffed to their cell phones. It is a misconception that sleep occurs in two phases: fully awake or fully asleep. When sleep texting occurs, the individual might be asleep but it isn’t a sound sleep. Sleep texting can wreak havoc on the restorative aspects of sleep, whereby the next day, you are fighting to stay awake and alert.
Like sleepwalkers who can navigate obstacles in their nocturnal travels, sleep texts can be unexplainably correct in terms of spelling and grammar. But of course, the words within the texts can also raise some eyebrows causing embarrassment for both the sender and the text recipient. It is also not too far off the realm of possibilities to make calls or send emails while asleep.
How is all of the aforementioned even remotely possible? Present-day theory is that the area of the brain that functions to allow you to perform major movements is awake, while at the same time, a different area that controls judgment and memory is asleep. Again it is the prevalent view as to why sleepwalkers can walk and talk while asleep and why sleep texting can occur.
However, the medical director of the pediatric sleep disorders program at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota has an alternate theory. Dr. Gerald Rosen believes that sleep texting is a response similar in scope to when a mother awakens when hearing her baby cry in the wee hours of the night. For all intents and purposes, something similar occurs when people text on their phones while asleep: a response to not being able to live without a connection to the outside world courtesy of a cell phone.
The growing concern is the ever-increasing number of teenagers who cannot bear to be apart from their cellphones, even while they sleep. The numbers are on the rise each and every year. The Pew Internet & American Life Project discovered the following:
- In 2009, the average number of texts was 50/day; in 2011, the number was 60 with current estimates tipping the scale at 100.
- Girls send twice as many texts as boys.
- As their top form of communication, 63% of all teens shared that they exchange text messages every day with people in their lives.
- Four out of five teens sleep with their phone on or near their bed.
Is There a Cure for Sleep Texting?
There is definitely a cure for adult sleep texting: Keep your cell phone out of the bedroom. But what can be done to help our teenagers stop texting in their sleep and also get much-needed rest and sleep? Parents can establish a policy whereby their teen can use his or her cellphone up till a certain mutually established time (“phone curfew”) and then it is shutdown or off being charged in a location other than his or her bedroom. And if this doesn’t work, perhaps making it more difficult to use the cellphone could be the cure, such as putting socks or mittens on their hands…it certainly isn’t easy to text while so encumbered.
If you would like to find out more about getting a good night of sleep or believe that you might have a more serious health issue like sleep apnea, please contact one of our medical concierges today at 1-855-863-4537 or schedule a free consultation.