You’ve heard of sleepwalking and even sleep eating—not to mention sleep driving and all of the downright crazy things people under the influence of Ambien do when they’re supposedly out cold. But the latest odd sleep behavior concerns a habit that’s becoming more and more ubiquitous in our day-to-day lives: texting while fast asleep.
Sleep specialist David Cunnington, M.D., of the Melbourne Sleep Disorders Centre in Australia, claims some of his patients are reporting waking up startled to find that they’ve sent text messages while catching some z’s. Bizarre? Not really. “People are doing so much during a normal day that it can mean that they feel like they’re ‘on call’ even at night,” Dr. Cunnington told the Associated Press. “Because it’s so easy to receive emails constantly and get notifications from smartphones, it becomes more difficult for us to separate our waking and sleeping lives.”
But clinical psychologist and sleep expert Michael Breus, M.D., assures us that sleep texting is nothing new. “People have been talking about this since we’ve had doctors on call being woken in the middle of the night and them having no recollection,” he says.
According to Dr. Breus, the widespread availability of technology means we have a nation of people whose sleep patterns are at risk of being disrupted. To combat the problem, he suggests an “electronic curfew,” where his patients are instructed to turn off tech gadgets—that includes your laptops and iPads—at least an hour before sleep.
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He also recommends plugging these items in somewhere other than your bedroom. (Better yet, turn them off completely.)
Bottom line: While waking up to find you’ve texted someone in your sleep is a bit alarming, there’s no need to, er, lose sleep worrying about it, considering most docs acknowledge that sleep texting is a rather rare condition.
That said, it seems like there’s an important lesson here about disengaging from the hectic flow of our tech-filled daily lives. Making a conscious effort to “unplug” from technology could make all of the difference between sleep texting and getting a good night’s rest.
And if you do slip up and send a random sleepy message? Well, at least you can always follow up with “LOL.”
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