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Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Sleep-texting becoming more widespread among young adults

When Charlene Ochogo woke up from a nap one afternoon, she was confused when her boyfriend arrived at her dorm.

She thought he was surprising her, but she had texted him saying she needed him to pick her up.

But the 21-year-old UF telecommunication senior had no memory of ever pressing send. She had sleep texted. And she’s not alone.

Recently, sleep specialists report sleep-texting is becoming more widespread among teenagers and young adults. Phone users will send text messages in their sleep, only to wake up and read conversations they do not remember having.

Dr. Mary Wagner, a UF associate professor of pediatrics and sleep specialist, said sleep-texting is a form of parasomnia, which is a category of sleep disorders that includes sleepwalking and night terrors.

She said because the brain is still working in sleep, sleep-texting could happen.

Because young people are constantly on their cellphones, it’s not unusual that they could text as if they were awake, she said.

Sleep-texting most likely occurs during stage N3 sleep, which is a deep, slow-brain-wave sleep, she said, and the content in the text messages could even be linked to dreams.

Ochogo uses her phone as an alarm clock, so it is near her when she sleeps, allowing her to sleep text.

“I have texted things that are coherent or incoherent,” she said.

She said she has sleep texted more than once, and it usually happens during afternoon naps.

Wagner said sleep-texting not only disrupts sleep, but it also could mean people risk sending regrettable material they would never remember.

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She said people who sleep text should lock their phones before bed and keep phones away from them when they sleep to avoid potentially inappropriate messages.

“Young people are really good at texting,” she said. “It’s not unusual for that to creep in.”

Jeffrey Reale, a 20-year-old UF public relations senior, said he is a serial sleep-texter.

“I’ve texted girls who I shouldn’t have,” he said.

Occasionally typing out song lyrics to friends, he said he thinks the texts are sometimes sent as he is falling asleep.

Reale said he’s even had a 30-second phone conversation mid-sleep.

“God only knows what I said,” he said.

A version of this story ran on page 9 on 10/2/2013 under the headline "Sleep-texting becoming tiring problem for confused students"

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