Sleep Texting Takes Its Toll on College Students

A college student shares an unbreakable bond with his or her cell phone. At least, it seems so to university professors who can’t prevent their students from furtively texting underneath their desks while listening to lecture. A handful of professors have even implemented "tech breaks," which are in-class intermissions that allow students to tweet, retweet, and text. The idea is to allow students to use their cell phones or laptops freely for a set amount of time so that they focus during class without wondering about their inbox.

Now, the quasi-addiction to cell phones seems to have reached a new level with sleep texting. It is exactly what it sounds like: someone sends or responds to a text, often without any recollection of doing so in the morning.

According to an article published by The Chronicle of Higher Education, a study of more than 200 students at the University of Rhode Island revealed that they were losing an average of 45 minutes of sleep each week because of their cell phones.

Students’ dependency, which some label as an addiction, on cell phones seems to be to blame for the increase in cases. Often, they sleep with their cell phones only inches away, making it easy to respond to late-night texts. However, the phenomenon may have serious consequences. During a segment on ABC, Dr. Shelby Harris, director of the Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program at the Sleep-Wake Disorders Center at Montefiore Medical Center, said that teenagers generally use their phones to sleep text during the first third of the night, when sleep is the deepest. This can lead to stress and severe fatigue the next day.

Dr. Harris’s remedy may be a difficult one for college students to abide by, though. She recommends putting the laptop away and turning off the television one hour before bedtime because this screen time can make it difficult to fall asleep. Still, experts say that students need to respect their sleep and make an effort to disconnect from their high-tech gadgets and gizmos at night so that they’re well-rested in the morning for class. This applies to online students too — be sure to plan your after-work class time to where you’ll have at least an hour away from the computer before going to bed, otherwise you may feel fatigued the next morning.

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