You might have heard a joke or two about the practice of “sleeptexting,” but you’d better not laugh. It’s a real thing. And it ruins lives.
Okay, not really. But it is pretty creepy. The Atlantic profiled a handful of people who have apparently suffered from this phenomenon, including a woman who traded wistful texts with her ex-boyfriend and another who texted the name of her dead father to a friend.
Others have reported simply waking up with their hands in the “texting position.”
Sleeptexting is apparently becoming so common that real honest-to-goodness psychologists are trying to figure it out. Dr. Michael Gelb, a clinical professor at New York University’s College of Dentistry and founder of The Gelb Center in New York, seems to have done the most serious research on it thus far.
“The line is blurring between wakefulness and sleep,” Gelb said. “So, you’ll be texting one second and the next second you’re asleep, but then you get a ping and the ping awakens you. It’s becoming more of a trend because the line is really being blurred between being awake and being asleep.”
It’s currently classified as a type of parasomnia, putting it in the same ballpark as sleepwalking, night terrors, and bed-wetting.
“Enough, doc!” you shout. “What can I do to stop it?”
Well, the real issue behind sleeptexting (and most sleep disorders) is… well… lack of sleep. This leads to other health issues like obesity, high blood pressure and heart disease. If you suffer from lack of sleep, one thing you can do is cool it on the sleep aids.
Medications like Ambien might help you sleep, but will ironically increase the likelihood of sleeptexting and thus, interrupting important REM sleep (when sleeptexting is most likely to occur).
“Ambien makes it worse because then you’re out of it. It’s amnesia. You don’t even really remember what you did while you’re on Ambien,” Dr. Gelb said.
If that’s not an option, Dr. Gelb said that there are some other lifestyle choices you can make to keep yourself from this embarrassing phenomenon. He recommends shutting down your electronic devices at least 30 minutes before you go to bed and give your brain some time to wind down. Also, don’t fall asleep with your phone nearby. Duh.