Something Else More People Are Doing While Asleep: Texting

Sleep disorder specialists are calling attention to a new trend that, while less dangerous than sleep-driving, still represents a potential health concern.

What's the Latest Development?

To the phenomena of sleepwalking and sleep-driving we can now add a new activity: the practice of texting while asleep. Villanova University nursing professor Elizabeth Dowdell has researched sleep-texting and found that young people, who are all but glued to their smartphones, are particularly susceptible. In a survey of 300 college students, she learned that as many as 35 percent had sleep-texted, and more than 50 percent admitted that technology had a negative effect on their sleep habits.

What's the Big Idea?

Although, comparatively speaking, sleep-texting is harmless, anything that interrupts sleep on a regular basis has negative health consequences, says sleep disorder specialist Josh Werber. Sleep-texting appears to take place before a person enters the deep sleep necessary for physical and mental restoration. Also, according to a Pew survey, at least four out of every five teenagers sleeps next to their phone. Werber and Dowdell both suggest creating some sort of separation, either by putting the phone out of reach, silencing it, or turning it off. "Maybe we don't need to be connected 24-7 – maybe it's better to be connected 18-7," says Dowdell.

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