I loves me some technology, dudes. I really does.
I still remember the thrill of connecting my first modem and actually seeing real-time words appear on the screen from someone all the way in California. (I was easily impressed in those days.) My first text was a thrill-a-word as well.
As the years have rolled into the past, I’ve kept up with the technology relatively well for an old(ish) dude. I use text when I can, know what most of the hip programs and apps are (even though I still use outdated words like hip) and, in general, am just about as connected as it’s a good idea to be.
Apparently, though, there are people who believe I’m a bit of a piker when it comes to the idea of an always-on connection.
The premed student sleeps with mittens on each night. Mittens, to protect herself from her phone. To render her fingers unable to send those unconscious messages that are as embarrassing as they are senseless.
Yup: She’s a sleep texter.
“It’s a phenomenon occurring with the younger generation,” says Elizabeth Dowdell, a nursing professor at Villanova University who shared the anecdote about the mitten-wearing student. “And it’s reflective of the significance of our smartphones — of these very powerful machines. Why would we turn them off?”
I know, right? I really thought it was a joke article in Business Insider, but then I remembered that this was published in Business Insider, which isn’t known for the hilarity of its content. Really I’m a bit astonished by this.
Most nights, I don’t sleep all that well. I’ll wake up from different things. Not that I’m saying anyone I sleep with every single night snores really, really loudly and causes me to wake up. Nope. I’m most sincerely not saying that. Very forcefully not saying that, in fact. Still, I don’t sleep all that well.
But the idea of waking up in the middle of the night, grabbing my phone and sending a tweet while still asleep? That’s astonishing. I mean, wouldn’t the bright light from the phone wake them up? Recent scientific studies have shown that bright lights during sleep time will actually wake people up. That is, if you have to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, you’ll stay awake longer if you turn on the bathroom light, than you will if you simply grope your way to the toilet an then back.
These dudes and dudettes? Not really bothered by it as far as I can see. They’ll wake up, text or tweet, then go back to sleep, not remembering a thing about it in the morning. At least, not until they check their message history.
Dowdell initially learned about sleep texting when one of her students described her nighttime activities. After growing more intrigued, she surveyed 300 students, and learned that 25 to 35 percent had sent text messages while they were snoozing. And more than 50 percent admitted that their phone or other technology interfered with their sleep in some way.
That’s what’s worrisome, experts say. Sleep texting tends to occur during naps or about 90 minutes to two hours into the snoozing process, prior to entering a deep sleep. “Sleep is a very important restorative process,” says Josh Werber, a snoring specialist at EOS Sleep Centers in Long Island, N.Y. “And when we’re not fully engaged in it, and not getting the amount we need, we’re not having the same restorative effect on our brains. And that affects our cognitive ability the next day.”
For those worried they might be turning into a sleep texter, the best ideas to curb the behavior seem to be behavioral. Like the med student above, you could wear mittens to bed. Or you could simply move your phone somewhere it’s out of reach from your bed. Maybe a few weeks like that and you’ll have broken the habit.
As a parent, I’ve been pretty strict about making sure my young dudes don’t have their phones with them when they go to sleep. I’d not been worried about this, but, rather, them either talking or texting to someone until early in the morning or doing something else that prevents sleep. This just reinforces my thoughts that electronics like phones don’t belong in young kids’ bedrooms when they’re trying to sleep.