Sleep Texting Disorder: A 21st Century Phenomenon

Somnambulant activities are nothing new. Sleepwalking and sleep talking have most likely been around as long as humans have. What anyone who has been a victim of either of these disorders knows for certain is that sleepwalking and sleep talking spells are sometimes funny, sometimes frightening and always really, really, annoying.

As if these two plagues on sleep weren’t enough, the high reliance on mobile phones in the 21st Century brings a new player to bat: Sleep texting.

What Is Sleep Texting?

Sleep texting is a disorder which involves sending text messages subconsciously in the middle of sleep. Whether the victim of this disorder is truly asleep while sending the text message or simply can not recall sending the text message upon waking is unclear, but the end result is the same. The victim of the disorder sends text messages that he or she has no recollection of the next day.

How Is It Possible to Text In Your Sleep?

The actions performed during sleepwalking and sleep talking are often activities that have been stored in our muscle memory, such as opening doors or navigating a room. Frequent repetition forms habits, which are meant to increase the body’s efficiency in the performance of daily activities. In the case of sleep texting, that muscle group involves the hand and fingers.

Many frequent cell phone users can easily find a way to their cell phone in the dark and press the keys needed to submit a text message without so much as a glance at the screen. The fingers have been trained to send messages with as much speed and as little thought as possible. When you consider how many thousands of text messages an active mobile phone user can send in a short amount of time, the idea of texting in your sleep suddenly becomes a little less shocking and a lot more concerning.

What Do Sleep Texting Messages Look Like?

Sleep texting messages are generally an alphabet soup mix of absolute nonsense. For most, this is probably a saving grace. Receiving a nonsense text, like butt-dialing, will usually annoy before it offends. If it gets to a point where sleep texting messages become organized expressions of how we really feel toward bosses, spouses and friends, it may be time to invest in a new means of communication.

How Common is the Sleep Texting Phenomenon?

Some alarmists might lead you to believe that behind every sleeping teen there is potential for the birth of a sleep texting monster. In an article from the Daily Telegraph, Dr. David Cunnington, a specialist of the Melborne Sleep Disorder Center, argues that “[Sleep texting] is one of those things that happens, but it is very rare, and certainly not a common trend.”

No large scale medical research has been done for sleep texting, but there is a much more common cousin that captured the concern of researchers in 2008. Sleep emailing has also been added to sleepwalking family with more accessible internet service and email hosts.

Woman Texting While Asleep

Who Is Most Likely to Sleep Text?

Sleep texting, like most somnambulant activities, usually results from a combination of sleep deprivation and habitual action. The habitual action in the case of sleep texting is, of course, texting during the day. So, it follows that the ones most likely to sleep text are those who are both sleep deprived and send many text messages throughout the day.

While this may seem like the ingredients for nearly every young high school and college student, there are also plenty of hard working and, believe it or not, technologically social adults who may also share these risk factors for texting during sleep.

What Can I Do If I Am Texting In My Sleep?

If you are texting in your sleep, the easiest way to deal with the problem is to remove your mobile phone from your sleeping area and turn it off while you’re sleeping. While this may solve the immediate problem, you may also want to reduce stress throughout the day or find other ways to improve the quality of your sleep. Sleep texting can be a symptom of larger sleeping problems and, in some severe cases, may require professional medical attention.

So, if you were wondering whether or not you can text in your sleep, the short answer is yes. Sleep texting is possible, but is a more rare occurrence than certain anti-technology groups may lead you to believe. Moral of the story: when you lay down to go to sleep, make sure your technological helpers are getting some rest too.

About Troy Capers

The rigorous demands of the International Baccalaureate (IB) program taught me the importance of a good night’s sleep and I’ve learned never to compromise when it comes to good health