Everything you need to know about sleep texting

December 22, 2020 3 mins read
Everything you need to know about sleep texting

Have you ever sent nonsensical messages to your friends, family or colleagues and forgotten about what you said in the messages when you woke up? Then you’ve been sleep texting.

Research conducted by Villanova University in 2018 has shown how sleep texting is a growing phenomenon, with Millennials being particularly susceptible.

To understand how sleep texting impacts you, let’s explore how this technology-related trend has become an official sleep disorder.

What is sleep texting?

When you use your phone to send or reply to a message while you’re asleep, you’re sleep texting. Just like you would sleepwalk or talk while sleeping, sleep texting occurs during a state of partial consciousness (although more research needs to be done on the subject).

Most sleep texters sleep with their phones nearby. Typically, they will respond to a message on autopilot, often nonsensically or in gibberish.

Why does sleep texting happen?

Sleep texting is classified as a parasomnia and can affect your sleep quality. It falls under a group of sleep disorders that include sleepwalking and sleep eating.

Parasomnias can be caused by:

  • Stress
  • Sleep disorders like restless leg syndrome or sleep apnea
  • Medication such as antipsychotics or antidepressants
  • Drug or alcohol abuse
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder

Sleep texting occurs during REM sleep when our brain is most active. When you’re asleep, there are parts of the brain that are conscious and others that are semi-conscious. Sleep texting can happen when you become aware of a text message coming in, but the part of your brain that is still asleep isn’t able to articulate your response.

If you’re the kind of person who can’t be separated from your phone, then you might be more likely to sleep text. Researchers pin this down to your brain being so accustomed to responding to incoming messages that even while asleep, that reflex is activated and you’ll be quick to respond to a text.

How sleep texting affects your sleep

The blue light that emits from your screen can affect how well you sleep. The light sends signals to the brain to stay awake and remain alert, which is why spending time on your phone before bed can make it challenging for you to fall asleep. Your body might be ready to call it a day, but your mind is alert. This results in poor sleep quality, and when you wake in the morning, you’ll probably feel tired because of a lack of high-quality sleep.

If you respond to a text at any point during the sleep cycle, the interruption can leave you feeling tired in the morning and feeling sleep deprived. Over an extended period, sleep deprivation can lead to life-threatening effects such as high blood pressure, risk of heart disease and put you at a higher chance of developing diabetes.

How to stop sleep texting

This one’s pretty simple. When it’s bedtime, place your phone out of reach. Avoid screentime before bed as the blue light emitted by your cellphones or mobile devices trigger alertness in the brain, which can be hard to shake off when the time comes to sleep. Also, aim to improve your screen habits during the day. You don’t have to check every notification, instead set aside dedicated time slots to catch up on texts and social media.

Create a relaxing sanctuary in your bedroom by practising good sleep hygiene habits. Make sure your bedroom is well ventilated, clean and uncluttered, and that you use the correct pillows and mattresses to support your head and body.

Lastly, remember that exercise and a good diet will set you up for a night of sound sleep. Doing a few light stretches before bed can ease tension in your muscles, help you destress and ultimately lead to some uninterrupted shut-eye.