Waking Up To Decipher A Sleep Text
February 28, 2013

Waking Up To Decipher A Sleep Text

Picture this: it is the middle of the night, say 3:00am, and you are in a sound sleep. Then all of a sudden, your text tone chimes announcing that you have received a text. It wakes you, but you do not have the wherewithal to check it, so you roll over and go back to sleep. Then in the morning, you check the message, and you find that your friend sent you this:

“I legittt wish veggird were enough to fuelme.”

Or maybe your boyfriend sent you this:

“The bullet holes really look great on my teddy bear.”

You see these messages and have no idea what the gibberish means, so you call your friend or boyfriend and ask them, to which they reply, “What are you talking about?” That is the moment when you know you have a sleep texter. Yep, you read that correctly. We have long known about sleepwalkers, sleep talkers, and sleep eaters; well now there is some anecdotal evidence of sleep texters.

As CNN Tech reported, sleep texting is on the rise. The two hypothetical texts mentioned above were real sleep texts sent and then posted by the senders on Twitter. People are really sending sleep texts more regularly.

The CNN article interviewed a specialist who said, “‘It’s like your brain is on autopilot,’ explained Dr. Shelby Harris, director of behavioral sleep medicine at Montefiore Medical Center in New York. ‘Think about the rate at which people are texting nowadays, and most people sleep right next to (their phones), so if they wake up it’s another automatic behavior. … This is sort of a form of sleepwalking, that’s kind of the way that I look at it.'”

I can’t say that I have ever sent a sleep text or even received one, but I am not really all that surprised at these anecdotes. I teach college students, and sometimes it is near impossible to make them put their phones up. For some, their phones are an extension of themselves. Well, at least they feel that way. So to think that in their sleep they are thinking and dreaming and wanting to continue using their phone seems only natural.

What I would like to see studied with this is the psychological and behavioral connections as well as the effects. If people are at least partially waking to use their phones to send text(s), then they are not experiencing the kind of good sleep necessary for health. If they are not receiving good sleep, then the effects of lack of sleep and sleeping disorders will spill into their waking lives. This could be bad.

The report talks about this particularly focusing on teenagers. Teens definitely use their phones for texting…a lot. As the CNN article notes, “And teens, ‘they’re texting constantly…They feel they can spend the middle of the night communicating with their friends; it’s part of their behavior. … They don’t intend to text, but they sleep-text because they wake up confused, they grab (their phone) and they’re off mumbling in the text message.'”

Teens need sleep for more than just the necessary rest and REM cycle. Their bodies and brains are still developing, and sleep is necessary for healthy development. So what is sleep-texting doing to their development? How does it affect them?

Until a formal study (or formal studies) takes place, we can only speculate on the effect of sleep-texting on all. And until then, we will just have to enjoy the gibberish texts we receive from our sleep-texting friends and family.

Image Credit: Photos.com

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Rayshell E. Clapper is an Associate Professor of English at a rural college in Oklahoma where she teaches Creative Writing, Literature, and Composition classes. She has presented her original fiction and non-fiction at several conferences and events including: Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, Howlers and Yawpers Creativity Symposium, Southwest/Texas Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association Regional Conference, and Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference. Her publications include Cybersoleil Journal, Sugar Mule Literary Magazine, Red Dirt Anthology, Originals, and Oklahoma English Journal. Beyond her written works, she successfully created a writer's group in rural Oklahoma to support burgeoning writers. The written word is her passion, and all she experiences inspires that passion. She hopes to help inspire others through her words.

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