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Rising problem of sleep texting not dreamed up

Courtesy of MCT

Students text their friends while they are eating, in class or even while watching a movie. But one strange and unexpected time that students text, is while sleeping.

Sleep texting is occurring more frequently among students and it is something that is happening on Ohio State’s campus, said Dr. Markus Schmidt, a sleep expert at the Ohio Sleep Medicine Institute.

“We see more and more patients that are doing that at a particularly young age,” Schmidt said.

Sleep texting is as simple as it sounds: a person will respond or send out a text message in the middle of their sleep. Most people who do this usually do not remember doing it and it usually doesn’t make much sense, Schmidt said.

Hope O’Brien, a second-year in social work, said she has sleep texted ever since she began attending OSU.

“If someone texts me (when I’m asleep,) I will respond but I wont remember,” O’Brien said.

Schmidt said many people sleep with their phones either near their beds or on their beds. He said the proximity of the phone is what could cause a major disturbance while sleeping.

“Somewhere around 20 percent of 13- to 18-year-olds say they receive a phone call or an email that almost wakes or wakes them up every night,” Schmidt said.

This disturbance through a text message is what O’Brien said causes her to text while sleeping. However, she said she is not exactly sure why she does it.

Schmidt said sleep texting is something that can be classified as a repetitive behavior since people do it so often. While in a certain sleep stage, people can do habitual or repetitive actions that they may do in the daytime.

“A recent poll says these kids spend an hour-and-a-half texting each day,” Schmidt said. “It’s nothing unusual for them, in fact, it’s very habitual to text in the middle of the night.”

Mallory Ray, a third-year in interior design, said she has also sleep texted before.

“It’s usually while I am falling asleep, and I just end up texting and sleeping but I won’t remember what I said the next day,” Ray said.

The fact that some people do not remember the next day is what Schmidt said can be a problem with sleep texting.

Ray admitted that she has sent embarrassing texts while asleep, but did not say what she sent.

“I just told that person that I was really tired and I didn’t remember sending the text,” Ray said.

Schmidt said another issue with sleep texting is that it can interrupt sleep.

“When you start including text messages coming in the middle of the night, your quality of sleep is being adversely affected,” Schmidt said.

Schmidt said one way to avoid sleep texting is by keeping the phone away from you as you sleep.

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