Doctors Say They’re Seeing More Patients With Sleep Texting Disorder

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Doctors are seeing more patients who have a relatively new sleep disorder, called sleep texting, 10TV’s Andrea Cambern reported.

Elizabeth Hammonds is one such person who is dealing with sleep texting. has the disorder.

“I’m under a lot of stress right now with family and school,” Hammonds said.  “I twist and turn for at least two or three hours before I actually fall asleep.”

Hammonds, who is dealing with school and her mother’s impending divorce, said that she often wanders into the family room and collapses on the couch with her smartphone nearby.  Then, the unexpected occurs.

She learned from a friend that she has sent text messages in her sleep.

“(He said), ‘You sent me a text message at 3 a.m. and I didn’t know what you meant by it,’” Hammonds said.  “Then he showed me on his phone.  I (said), ‘Are you really joking?  I sent that to you like at 3 a.m?  He (said), ‘Yeah, you did.’”

“(Elizabeth) was telling me how she had texted somebody that said, ‘Close her door,’” said Betty Hammonds, the teen’s mother.

Since then, Elizabeth Hammonds said she has sleep-texted many times.  Some texts have contained words.  Others have contained random letters.

Dr. Markus Schmidt, of Ohio Sleep Medicine Institute, said that he is starting to see more cases of sleep texting.

"Four out of five kids that have cell phones sleep with the cell phone in the bedroom, next to their bed,” Schmidt said.  “Only one in 10 actually turn it off.”

According to Schmidt, sleep deprivation can trigger common motor behaviors during sleep, including reaching for the phone when it goes off.

“They kind of get stuck in a no-man's land where they're not really fully awake but yet feel the need or urge to be able to respond to that text message, Schmidt said.

He said that there can also be a genetic link.

“(Elizabeth’s) father does all sorts of strange things in his sleep so, I figure it's a little bit genetic,” Betty Hammonds said.

Schmidt said that anyone having the disorder should go to bed earlier and move the phone out of reach, including out of the bedroom.

He said that the phenomenon is so new that there is not much research, but he knows it can be carried to extremes.  One of his young patients was alarmed to find she was sending compromising photos of herself while she slept.

As more people give up landlines and use only cell phones, Schmidt thinks sleep texting will become more common.

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