Sleep-texting: lol or wtf?
Move over, sleepwalking, sleep driving, and sleep binge-eating. Increasing numbers of cellphone users are reporting on blogs and message boards that they are "sleep-texting," text messaging friends from their cellphones while asleep. It's a sign of the times, say sleep experts and experts on technology, who see the phenomenon as a natural extension of the younger generation's reliance on text messages for communication. But scientists and sleep professionals disagree on whether the individuals involved are technically asleep when they send the messages. And at a Nortel media conference in Toronto earlier this week, two high-tech experts had never heard of the phenomenon, reports the Star's Daphne Gordon.
However, others see sleep-texting as perfectly possible. "Texting for some of the younger generation is probably as ingrained as driving is for some people," says Dr. Ron Kramer, a spokesperson for the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.
Texting has become almost an obsession for many younger than 30, says Rosen. Along with three colleagues, he conducted an anonymous survey that examined technology use among three generations, which found that the Internet generation spent an average of two hours and 20 minutes per day texting.
And late-night text-messaging is ubiquitous among teens. Nearly a quarter of teenagers in a relationship have communicated with a boyfriend or girlfriend hourly between midnight and 5 a.m. via cellphone or text messaging, according to a 2007 online survey by Teenage Research Unlimited, a youth research group. One in six communicated 10 or more times an hour through the night. Castillo, for instance, says she and her boyfriend send between 90 and 120 text messages to each other a day.
Meanwhile, more and more of those text-obsessed individuals are sleeping next to their phones, Rosen said. "They're not only with their cellphones most of the day," he said. "They often sleep with it right next to them and let the vibration wake them up." The inevitable result is that some may continue to perform the activity while unconscious.
But Kramer doesn't dismiss the possibility that some people could be text messaging while asleep, though the messages would likely be incoherent. People have been known to perform a variety of activities while asleep, from sitting up in bed to housecleaning, binge-eating or driving a car, so sleep-texting may not be much of a stretch, he admits. And as modern activities such as text-messaging become ingrained in daily life, they are more likely to pop up during sleep.
And there just may be another category of sleep-texters: people who may be embarrassed about a message they wrote and who now claim they don't remember doing it.
"Maybe the person who sent the message regretted saying something over a text late at night," Kramer jokes, "and used `sleep texting' as an excuse."