The sleep-texting epidemic

Earlier this year, a Philadelphia doctor offered that teens were texting in their sleep. Now it seems the disease is spreading.

Chris Matyszczyk
3 min read
Will it make sense in the morning? CBS New York/ Screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

I don't know about you, but I occasionally scream in the middle of the night.

Often, I'm being attacked by fire-snorting administrative assistants who are wearing unflattering red shoes and sending cyberstalking messages that read: "Why aren't you dead yet, punk?!"

Despite such night terrors, I haven't ever texted in the middle of the night for help. But it seems to be the new, new thing.

Earlier this year, Philadelphia nursing professor Elizabeth Dowdell worried that teens were now LOLing while they slept.

But teens do all sorts of crazy things out of which they ultimately grow. However, now a New York doctor, sleep expert Dr. Josh Werber, reveals that sleep-texting is spreading to even those with fully-developed faculties.

In a quite painful report published Wednesday, CBS New York interviewed Werber, as well as a couple of women who sometimes wake in the morning, to see that their sleep has been punctuated by messaging.

While Werber warned that sleep-texting can wreck your quality of sleep, the sleep-texters themselves show a peculiar attachment to the phones.

A 23-year-old called Megan revealed that because the socket is near her bed, she sleeps with her iPhone phone actually on her bed.

Yes, your iPhone has now become your dachshund.

Sometimes, she sends texts to family and friends that make absolutely no sense. You might imagine they're used to that, but no. These texts would make no sense to anyone.

They would be "a sentence of jumbled-up stuff," said Megan.

But then there's Laura Hogya. This is a woman with a very nice office and an extremely clean desk. She says she wakes up tired. Yes, she's a sleep-texter, too.

Her texts make sense. But that could cause even bigger problems.

"If I answer a client e-mail, that's something I worry about. Or a boss," she said.

How painful it would be if her boss woke up one morning to a text that read: "I really didn't like the dress you wore today. It made your hips look like Hulk Hogan's."

Strange things go through our minds at night. It's the time we release some of what we couldn't release during the day. However, in Dr. Werber's words, "technology has infiltrated the bedroom."

What can we do about this invasion?

He recommends not bringing your cell phone into the bedroom. He also suggests switching it off an hour before you go to bed.

But who can do that? You need to keep your phone charged because you need to keep your life charged. And few people now bother with a landline, so your cell phone is your one link to the outside world.

What if your lover is arrested in Britain when border control finds a Julian Assange picture on his cell phone?

What if your friend Lucy makes out with a cross-dressing opera singer and just has to, has to tell you about it right now?

I fear that, soon, we will be communicating as much from our sleepy subconscious as from our equally sleepy conscious.

I'm rather looking forward to seeing what really goes on in people's heads.