A New Study Finds That Many Americans May Be Sleep Texting Without Knowing It

A quarter of college students admit that they have been guilty of sending text messages while half asleep and later have no memory of doing so.

Woman Uses Phone while in bed.
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A quarter of college students admit that they have been guilty of sending text messages while half asleep and later have no memory of doing so.

In today’s world, most people have their phone on or near them at all times. They are hyper aware of every ping or buzz, even in their sleep. Despite its proven connection to poorer sleep, many people keep their phone by their bedside at night, often turned on. This has caused a rise in what researchers are calling sleep texting, or texting while in a sleep state, according to Today.

While the term may sound ridiculous, a larger portion of the population is guilty of this than you might think. A study recently published in the Journal of American College Health showed that a quarter of college students admit they have occasionally sent a text message while half asleep and later had no memory of doing so. They might not even be aware of the messages they sent until checking their text history the next morning.

Not only could these text messages make little sense to their recipients, but they might not reflect the sender in the best light. People that are messaging while not fully awake and conscious might not even be aware of what they are typing. They are also more likely to suffer from a lack of energy during the day because of their interrupted sleep.

Elizabeth Dowdell, a professor at Villanova University, who helped conduct the study, was shocked upon first hearing of the phenomenon. She became interested in studying sleep texting when many of her students mentioned that they find themselves engaging in this habit on a regular basis. Dowdell realized that if our bodies are trained to react whenever we hear our devices make a noise, it makes sense that they would continue to have a reaction to these notifications even in sleep.

“It’s always a little concerning when we hear about young adults who don’t remember doing things,” she said.

The professor would like to emphasize that though this habit can be funny the first couple times it happens, it can also affect one’s quality of life over time. Consistently getting less and less sleep as a result of technology use can affect the ability to focus during the day and even lead to decreased happiness. In addition, poor sleep weakens the body’s ability to fight sickness, potentially leading to a compromised immune system.

“Sleep is our friend. Sleep quality is something we all should have,” Dowdell noted. “[Sleep texting] affects their sleep and we know that extended deprivation of sleep affects health.”