Most of us can relate to the mortification of accidentally sending a pocket text or calling someone’s number unintentionally.
The rise of cellphones and the easy way they fit into pockets, purses, and jackets has led to many embarrassing encounters and is just one of the repercussions of the “always-on” lifestyle of today’s digital age.
However, keeping our phones close by even while sleeping has led to a new kind of pocket dial in the form of sleep texting.
Researchers from Villanova University recently conducted a study and found that sleep texting and sleeping with a phone close by were increasingly common and connected to poor sleep quality in college students.
Sleep texting describes when a person accidentally sends a text or picks up the phone while sleeping or drifting on to sleep with no memory of sending the text the next morning.
Just after falling asleep before a person sinks into a state of deep sleep, they may unconsciously and instinctively reach for their phone if they hear it ring and go on to respond with incoherent gibberish.
“Sleep texting occurs when an individual responds to or sends a text message electronically while in a sleep state,” the researchers said. “This action can occur once or multiple times during the sleep cycle, adversely affecting the quality and the duration of the individual’s sleep.”
For this study, the researchers asked 372 college students from two universities about their sleeping habits and if they slept with their phone close by.
The researchers also recorded cell phone use while the student participants slept and sleep quality throughout the night.
A quarter of the participants admitted to sleep texting and said they didn’t get sufficient sleep.
The majority of participants who did report sleep texting said they did not remember doing it or what they texted.
“The lack of memory is not surprising as sleep research has found that people awakened after sleeping more than a few minutes are usually unable to recall the last few minutes before they fall asleep,” said Elizabeth Dowdell, the lead author of the study.
College students tend to get less sleep than other age groups which is why the increase in sleep texting is concerning.
The study adds to growing research on the impacts of smartphone addiction, which is especially common among younger generations.