Do you sleep with your cell phone on a bedside table? You may want to move it. The director of a sleep disorder clinic in Omaha says he’s seeing patients from Iowa and Nebraska, mostly teens and young adults, who are sleep-texting — that’s right, texting while they’re asleep.
Dr. Michael Summers says, “The transition from wake to sleep and sleep to wake happens fairly abruptly and you still may be in and out of that either wake or sleep state and that is where these occur.” Summers believes sleep-texting is a lot more common than you might think.
“The frequency of it really increases if you’re sleep-deprived,” he says. “You combine that with certain sleep medications that can make parasomnias more common and you’re starting to see this become more of an issue. It’s probably fairly under-reported, at least sleep-texting, because admittedly, some people may send things that are a bit embarrassing to talk about.”
Summers blames the phenomenon of sleep-texting on sleep deprivation. He says, “Most people average around seven hours, or less, of sleep per night and a vast majority of studies show that most people need at least nine hours of sleep per night.” He says sleep deprivation does take its toll on a person and it can carry over into their awake time.
“You are more prone to making mistakes,” Summers says. “You’re less efficient. Chronic sleep deprivation decreases response times, so when you’re driving, you may not be able to react as quickly. You may do what we call automatic behaviors where you’re driving and you may go into this zone-like state where you drive by your exit.”
Too little sleep can also lead to sleep-eating, night terrors, restless leg syndrome, sleep paralysis, chronic pain and teeth grinding. Summers, whose clinic is at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, says the first step in stopping these episodes is to get more sleep.
He recommends that at a certain time, electronics are turned off. He says never get into bed with your cell phone. If you need it in your bedroom, put it out of reach.