The Sleep Texting Phenomenon
When you hear the words sleep disorder, the first few conditions that come to your mind may be sleepwalking, insomnia, or even sleep apnea. However, most people do not think of texting while asleep as a sleep disorder at all, let alone a common sleep disorder. Sleep texting is growing to be more common among teenagers, and the phenomenon has been quickly finding itself more and more popular in the news.
Sleep texting means that a person is reading and responding to messages in their sleep with no recollection of this behavior come morning time. Experts say that this type of behavior stems from an unconscious phenomenon that young people cannot be apart from their phones. Texting while asleep is abnormal, unpredictable behavior, just like sleepwalking, that can take place during any time of the night.
People tend to think of sleep in two ways: either fully asleep or fully awake. However, there are several in-between stages of your sleep. In the case of sleep texting, the area of the brain that controls motor skills wakes up, while the area of the brain that controls memory does not. This explains how other sleep disorders work as well, and why we are able to walk, talk, or even text when we are still asleep.
An expert from the pediatric sleep disorders program at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota says that sleep texting is an automatic response, and even goes as far as to compare it to how a mother responds to her crying baby in the middle of the night. He says that a baby crying is a trigger that wakes mothers out of the deepest of sleeps, and that cell phone dings do that same thing to teenagers.
A doctor from Fairview Sleep Center estimates that over half of his young patients who have reported sleep problems have sleep texted. Studies show that one in three teenagers send more than 100 text messages a day, and four out of five teenagers admit to sleeping next to their phones.
The reliance on cell phones, especially among teenagers, has created this new sleep behavior that has been growing in numbers for several years. Because this disorder occurs in an unconscious state, it can be a difficult behavior to break. One of the only ways to reduce the likelihood of this disorder is to sleep with your phone far from your bed or bedside table, or better yet put your phone in another room.
Texting is a fun pastime, but more fun when you can actually remember the conversation.