New study discovers sleep texting is a reality for users

New study discovers sleep texting is a reality for users

Sleeping is a time for your body to rest, repair and reprogram itself before the next day. Although for some people it can also be a time to eat, talk, walk and – a new study has discovered – text.

The research was published in the Journal of American College Health, where 372 students were surveyed at two separate universities in 2013 on their quality of sleep and mobile phone usage as they slept.

Researchers asked questions such as “how many hours do you sleep a night?” and “where do you keep your phone?” amongst other things.

The results were astounding.

More than 25 per cent of people surveyed revealed they texted in their sleep. 72 per cent of those sleep texters had no recollection of having sent the text until they looked at their phone the next day.

The people who reported sleep texting were more inclined to say they experienced interrupted sleep and said they kept their phone in bed with them at night.

The survey also included an open-ended question where the students could discuss how they coped with sleep texting.

One student reported she went to the extreme length of wearing mittens to bed to prevent herself from texting as “moving the phone from being in my bed to next to the bed is not an option, I have to keep my phone with me.”

The sleep texters revealed that the quality of their texts are not entirely comprehensible and are often just a bunch of random words with no meaning.

The lead author of the study, Elizabeth Dowdell, began the research after several of her undergraduate students spoke about their sleep texting habits.

Most of the students who sleep text are female and most check their phones first thing in the morning to see if they had texted in their sleep.

“The majority were unwilling to turn off their phone at night,” Dowdell revealed.

What is the cause of this strange new sleeping habit?

Board-certified sleep medicine researcher and neurologist W. Christopher Winter, MD, of Charlottesville Neurology and Sleep Medicine as well as author of the book The Sleep Solution: Why Your Sleep is Broken and How To Fix It, provided insight into the situation during an interview for Yahoo Lifestyle.

“A small percentage of these people probably have a parasomnia, which is an abnormal wakening during deep sleep. But instead of walking or eating things they don’t remember, they’re texting.”

Another explanation included the delayed formation of memories once awoken from a deep sleep, “we can have automatic behaviour,” explained Winter, “that’s why you can have a conversation with your partner in the middle of the night, not remember the first part, and wake up when you’re already into the conversation.”

Drinking alcohol can also influence the likelihood of sleep texting, Winter adding, “alcohol can absolutely influence both behaviours and having that sort of amnesia for what you’re doing.”

How to prevent sleep texting

Winter recommended not sleeping with your mobile in your bed and instead keeping it “really out of your proximity.”

If you are someone who likes to keep your phone in your room, Winter suggested placing it across the room where you sleep so if you want to answer a text in the middle of the night your body is forced to go through multiple movements that should wake you up.

Winter also recommended keeping your phone on silent so it doesn’t wake you with noise, and even getting a phone lock that requires solving a math problem or replicating a pattern which will be hard to accomplish while asleep.

“Who controls technology? We control it. We’re the ones who turn it on and we’re the ones who turn it off,” reinforced Dowdell.

“If you can’t turn it off, consider putting some boundaries around it like sleep mode or program it so that only certain people can text through at night. Also, don’t sleep with your phone in bed."