Name: Sleep texting.
Location: In bed.
Appearance: “I legittt wish veggird were enough to fuelme,” at 5.22am.
Sorry … what? That is what a sleep text looks like. Not those words, exactly, but about halfway between sense and nonsense.
It sounds like good old-fashioned sleep talking. Yes. As with most things, people have found a way to do it with their phones.
Hang on. People are picking up their phones, unlocking them, selecting a recipient, typing a message and sending it – all without waking up? Well, sometimes they might be replying – but yes, that’s a good summary. Apparently, sleep texters often engage in prolonged conversations with bemused friends.
I find that hard to believe. So do they. Most have no memory of it, finding out only when someone shows them after the fact or they notice it on their phones. It’s a new kind of parasomnia, which means “weird things that people do in their sleep”.
Oh, well, if it’s got a fancy name it must be real. And not only a fancy name. It has been reported anecdotally for years, but now there is a bit of science behind it, too.
Go on then. Science me up. Researchers at Villanova University in Pennsylvania asked 372 college students about their phone use and sleep quality, and 26% said that they had at some point texted in their sleep.
Oh. So the “bit of science” is asking some students if they sleep-text, and them saying yes? That’s right. Cool, huh?
I suppose it’s a start. The researchers also found that sleep texters are more likely to keep their phone beside or in their bed. They also report lower-quality sleep.
And I report a low level of surprise. Still, the scale of the problem might be bigger than many people realise.
Try me. One student in the study said she wore mittens to bed every night to stop herself texting.
OK. That’s weird. Another wrote: “It surprised me that this [sleep texting] is something you want to study, since everyone does it.”
About a quarter of people do it, I think they mean. Well, by comparison, somewhere between 5% and 10% of people will sleepwalk at some point in their lives.
So what can be done about this new menace? That’s simple. Just don’t sleep next to your phone.
Simple for you, maybe. You asked.
Do say: “Sorry, don’t mind my gibberish. I was just sleep-texting.”
Don’t say: “You say that every morning, Mr President.”