Sleep specialists are seeing a growing number of people sending text messages, emails and even making phone calls while sound asleep
In most cases, people wake up with no memory of the messages they have sent to any number of unintended and sometimes unfavourable recipients.
Termed sleep texting, the phenomenon is expected to soon affect much of the population as smartphone usage becomes so automatic it invades our subconscious
Sleep Services Australia medical director Linda Schachter said people had been performing semi-purposeful behaviours in their sleep for years, so it was no surprise when they started texting
“You’re not actually awake, but you are doing a behaviour you would normally do while awake.”
Much like the utterings of someone sleep talking, these texts and emails are mostly non-sensical or gibberish, often humorous and sometimes controversial.
But while a sleep talker’s semi-conscious thoughts are confined to the ears of those in their bedroom, sleep texting has the potential to reach far wider audiences.
Somya woke up on the phone to her boyfriend
Mandurah law student Somya Rajawat said she was shocked when she woke up one night last month to texts she had no memory of sending
Ms Rajawat, 21, said she became more concerned after nodding off watching television one night, only to wake up standing in another room midway through a phone call.
“I woke up and I was on the phone to my boyfriend but I didn’t remember falling asleep, so I was super disorientated,” she said.
“I’ve talked in my sleep before so he recognised that after a while, and had a good laugh at me once I woke up.
Ms Rajawat said it made sense that she had started sleep texting.
“I’m pretty addicted to my phone, a lot of the time I fall asleep with it in my hand, sometimes halfway through typing something,” she said.
“It’s like an extension of my hands really. I could text with my eyes shut, almost like it’s ingrained in my muscle memory.”
Time to remove the phone from the bedroom?
Sleep Foundation deputy chair David Hillman said sleep texting was a type of parasomnia which presented as people doing automatic-type behaviours while asleep
Those behaviours range from grinding teeth and talking through to walking and eating, but in the most extreme cases people even get behind the wheel and drive.
Dr Hillman said he saw patients who regularly woke up and find their kitchen a mess after having prepared a meal overnight