Sleep Care

Sleep Texting Is New Sleep Disorder Impacting Teens

“Sleep-texting” is a growing phenomenon among teens today. In fact, sleep-disorder specialists indicate that sleep-texting, which a person may perform several times over the course of a single night, is growing at an alarming pace. Sleep specialists speculate that

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smartphones are to blame for this relatively new sleep-disorder. They indicate that young adults are so attached to their phones that many can’t help but respond to texts even while they’re sleeping. As a result, if their phone beeps next to their bed they answer it. And the next morning, they have no memory of their activity. In fact, they don’t even know that they have engaged in sleep-texting until they check their message history. Sleep-texting is impacting teens and young adults more than any other segment of the population, most likely because of their seemingly unhealthy attachment to technology. In fact, teens spend 53 hours per week, or more than seven hours per day, engaged with some form of electronic media, according to a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation. Teens’ daily consumption of social media is also on the rise, with their use of mobile phones increasing at the fastest rate. In fact, one study found that U.S teens send an average of 100 texts in a single day. Teenager_asleepAccording to Elizabeth Dowdell, a professor of nursing at Villanova University who has studied the phenomenon, sleep-texting can cause some embarrassing situations for teens because many say things they wouldn’t normally say. Dowdell initially learned about sleep texting when one of her students described the experience for her. After surveying 300 students, she learned that 25 to 35 percent had sent text messages while sleeping. Meanwhile, more than 50 percent said that their phone or another form of technology interfered with their sleep in some way.Experts say these results are bothersome because sleep-texting tends to occur during naps or about 90 minutes to two hours into the sleep cycle and prior to entering a deep sleep. And according to experts when something disruptive like this occurs during sleep, teens are not getting the restorative value sleep can provide. This not only impacts a teen’s

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cognitive abilities but also impacts health and wellness. Understanding Teen Sleep Research already demonstrates teens that text and use the Internet are more likely to have trouble getting to sleep and staying asleep. In fact, more than half of teens that text or surf the Internet at bedtime have mood, behavior and memory problems during the day. These consequences exacerbate the already challenging issues of teen sleep. According to sleep specialists, most teenagers need at least nine hours of sleep per night. Unfortunately, most never come close to logging enough hours, which can lead to serious sleep deprivation. Some of this lack of sleep is due to the biological changes associated with puberty that make it harder for teens to fall asleep and stay asleep. Add to that the increased social and academic pressures, sleeping in on weekends and spending nights out late, and it becomes harder for teens to maintain a regular sleep schedule. The consequences from lack of sleep are not pretty. Sleep problems are linked to obesity, high blood pressure, depression, behavioral problems, and even drug and alcohol abuse. And there is some evidence that suggests sleep problems during the teen years can affect health well into adulthood. Preventing Sleep Texting Parents can help prevent sleep texting by keeping their kids from overusing technology. First, they can set limits on technology use. Time management is hard skill to learn, but parents can help kids learn self-discipline by imposing limits on how much technology they can use in a given day. Second, parents should keep the bedroom technology-free. The easiest way to prevent technology from interfering with sleep is to keep all electronic devices out of the bedroom. For instance, dock the phones in the kitchen and charge the iPads, laptops and iPods in another room. The goal is to create a bedroom conducive to sleep. And electronic devices are known to interfere with sleep. Lastly, parents should encourage teens to develop hobbies or other interests that don’t involve technology. For instance, sports, art classes or volunteer activities all get kids out of the house and doing something that doesn’t revolve around a smartphone or a computer screen. And in the end, these activities will keep technology overuse at

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