Sleep texting caused by stress, overstimulation

A study released out of the Melbourne Sleep Disorder Centre in Australia indicates a new phenomenon occurring among teens and college students—sleep texting.

Completely unaware of the occurrence, people send incoherent text messages to friends and family while they’re sleeping.

The study shows—like sleepwalking—sleep texting generally takes place during the third or fourth stage of sleep.

Research and study on the condition is limited, and until it is more extensive most professionals agree that the occurrence is just anecdotal.

“The phenomenon is unstudied in a rigorous way, and it is largely, if not completely, anecdotal in its manifestations,” said Dr. George Robinson, professor

emeritus of psychology at UNA.

However, despite the lack of research, the belief that sleep-texting occurs in select individuals is strong.

“I certainly don’t doubt that it could happen, but I would like to see more data before I believe the scientific and psychological roots,” said Dr. Ryan Zayac, UNA assistant professor of psychology.

Sleep-texting has occurred among some students at UNA. Public relations major Danielle Howard has experienced the phenomenon in the past.

“From firsthand experience, I know sleep-texting happens,” Howard said. “I haven’t done it in a while, but when I did I might have been texting someone and fell asleep, and they would keep texting me and at some point I would send some jumbled together letters that sometimes made words.”

One of the major factors affecting sleep-texting is stress and busy schedules during the daytime. Stress is interrupting sleep patterns, thus causing individuals—particularly teens and college students—to get less sleep at night.

“Compared to 80 years ago, the average teen is now sleeping two hours less,” Zayac said. “Their schedules are just so packed with lots of activities that it’s cutting into sleep time.”

Heavy usage and reliance on technology is also a key factor. A study conducted at the JFK Medical Center sleep laboratory in Edison, N.J., has reaffirmed suspicions that electronic media and technology have a significant impact on both the quality and quantity of sleep in students ages eight to 22. Students are so dependent on texting and technology that is difficult to not feel compelled to stay connected, even in the middle of the night.

“What students need to know is that it is OK to disconnect sometimes,” said Peggy Bergeron, a clinical nurse for UNA’s University Health Services. “Sleep needs to be just as much of a priority as technology is.”