Professor Shares Finding of Sleep Texting Study

Courtesy of the University

Courtesy of the University

Sarah McAssey

Elizabeth B. Dowdell, PhD, RN, FAAN, a professor in the M. Louise Fitzpatrick College of Nursing, recently shared findings from her study on sleep texting. Dowdell’s new study, “Interrupted sleep: College students sleeping with technology,” has been published in the Journal of American College Health.

Dowdell and her co-researcher, Brianne Q. Clayton, MSN, RN, interviewed 372 students with an average age of 19.7 years at two colleges in the northeast — 75 percent of which were women and 25 percent men. All participants had a smartphone and 93 percent reported keeping that phone with them during the night. One-third of respondents reported that they answered a phone call while they were asleep. Twenty-five percent of the students admitted that they had texted while asleep. 86 percent of the affirmative responses were given by women.

The results are framed around the fact that college students and other young adults are communicating with friends via text message into the wee hours of the night and do not remember doing so. Dowdell shares that “the majority of the sleep texting students had no memory of the texting behavior as well as who or what they texted.” However, she puts forth that this lack of recollection is not very surprising as existing sleep research has shown that people who awakened after sleeping more than a few minutes are typically not capable of recalling the last minutes before they fell asleep.

This technology trend comes in a time where communicating with others via text message is at peak prevalence. According to Dowdell, adolescents and young adults can average 60 to 100 text messages a day.

The authors note that the action of college students sleep texting suggests that the messages being sent are more embarrassing than dangerous.