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Are Your Kids Sleep-texting?

Neha Deshpande Feb 26, 2020
Without a question or doubt, here's the latest entrant to be added to the list of sleep issues -- sleep-texting! Yes, you heard it right. Teens reach for their phone at night, exchange texts, and have no recollection of it at all when they wake up. Here's why it's not good for health and how it can be helped.

Heard of Sleep Emailing?

Sleep-texting cases were not reported until 2008. Even before that, a similar phenomenon called "sleep emailing" was analyzed where researchers from the University of Toledo described the case of a 44-year-old woman who drafted emails in a state of sleep. When she woke up, she couldn't recollect the previous night's event.
With the ever-increasing dependence on cell phone and the exchange of numerous texts a day, kids are no doubt hooked to their cell phone. Social media and technology have definitely become a part and parcel of most teenagers' lives.
Kids spend hours on their phone constantly checking their notifications, texting, surfing, etc., that they hardly have the time to even look up for a 1-minute conversation with their parents. If this is the scenario in the presence of parents, how would parents control these phone habits when their kids are out of sight?
According to researchers, 100 texts a day is the average number of texts that are exchanged, which is definitely a huge number so to say, but are kids so attached to their phone that they'd reply to text messages while asleep? Strange, but true; sleep-texting is a developing phenomenon among teens. Let's find out more...

Sleep-texting Explained

Our brain may not be entirely at rest or alert at the same time. While you are asleep, a part of your brain that allows you to remain conscious is turned off, while on the other hand, the areas that permit you to coordinate and send texts might be active.
This semiconscious state of mind may result in sleep-texting. This abnormal behavior that occurs while you are asleep is referred to as paranomia (which includes sleep talking and sleepwalking).

Just as the beep of the cell phone tells you that you have received a new text while you are awake, it could similarly prompt your attention while you are asleep.
You may recognize the tone and coordinate with a response, but it could go awry at times. The texts sent may be ridiculous, almost gibberish at times (somewhat like sleep talking), while some texts may make actual sense. All these actions will not be recalled by the sleep-texter when he wakes up the next day.

Is Sleep Deprivation to be Blamed?

As technology advances, it leaves some crises for us to deal with. So, with the increased cell phone usage, the sleeping habits of kids have become unhealthy. Poor sleep habits can end up in sleep deprivation, which can hamper a teen's academic success and also the physical and mental health.
If unhealthy sleep habits are constantly ignored, it could lead to obesity, high blood pressure, depression, and behavioral issues at a later stage in life.
✦ Every kid needs at least 8-9 hours of sleep which they aren't getting. Biological changes in their body make it difficult for them to fall asleep or even stay asleep for that matter. The increased academic pressure and peer pressure makes it all the more difficult for them to maintain a regular sleep pattern.
✦ And if that wasn't enough, social media has started to interfere in the lives of kids. The addiction to social media is so enormous that kids are ready to give up on their sleep. According to a study, about 53 hours are spent by kids in a week on some form of electronic media.
✦ There is another study which states that teens who spend time texting or using the Internet just before bedtime find it difficult to fall asleep. As a result, they suffer from mood and behavioral problems during the day.
✦ Another reason to prompt the behavior could be the habit of sleeping with their cell phones near their bedside.
✦ Sleep-texting, being the new sleep disorder, is bad not only for the teen who unknowingly indulges in it, but also for the person who gets the text; the beeping sound of the cell phone late in the night is sure to shake up someone's sleep.

How to Stop Sleep-texting

Switch off the Phone: The most obvious solution to this problem is to switch off your phone, set a password lock, or place it in some other room so that it is faraway from your reach. In fact keeping the bedroom free of all electronic devices is the easiest way to prevent technology from depriving your kid of a good night's sleep.
Lay Down Limits: Although cell phones can't be completely kept away from the reach of kids, limits can definitely be set. Parents can ask kids to keep cell phones away at least during meal time and/or just before bedtime. This will at least aid in bringing down the usage.
Getting Involved Elsewhere: Taking kids outside, and getting them involved in some fun sports activities will automatically help in getting them distracted from tech usage.
Stress on Importance of Sleep: It is a fact that a person can survive without food or water longer than without sleep. Parents should explain the importance of sleep, and how deprivation of the same could affect the next day's work.