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Sleep Texting

This post belongs in the “Believe-It-Or-Not” folder.

A new condition is afflicting North American teens: Sleep texting is on the rise. Yes, it may be hard to believe, but teens are so wired to their devices these days, that they are actually writing and responding to texts in their sleep.

Elizabeth Dowdell, a nursing professor at Villanova University, is studying the phenomenon. She claims the teens use their phones in a semiconscious state between sleep and awake. “The phone will beep, they’ll answer the text,” says Dowdell. “They’ll either respond in words or gibberish.”

The condition is a direct result of the increased number of young people who go to bed with their phones. In a survey done by the Pew Research Center, four out of five teens admitted to having their phones within arms reach while they slept.

The same research centre claims that the average North American teen sends an average of 60 texts per day. With that many messages, it’s understandable that teens are having trouble disengaging from their devices when it’s time to sleep.

The sleep texts may seem like a harmless response to a hyperconnected society, but the condition does represent a harmful sleep interruption. The teens may not consciously remember texting, but their bodies most certainly do. Any interruption, especially one that requires reading and writing, is disruptive to the brain’s rest period.

Dowdell believes the only answer is a physical disengagement. Parents should encourage a technology-free bedroom, or at the very least, recommend or demand that their children turn their ringers off while they sleep.

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