Parasomniacs Update Social Media In Their Sleep

By now I imagine we’ve all seen the statistics showing that many people check their social media accounts before going to sleep, as soon as they wake up, and even while having sex. But what about when you’re actually asleep?

Yes, that is now a thing, according to researchers at the Swedish Medical Center in Seattle, who identified a new form of “parasomnia” (the general term for sleep disorders, which also covers golden oldies like sleepwalking and talking in your sleep) after patients complained that they are updating social media and sending text messages in their sleep.

Local TV station KOMO, which first reported the story, quoted Swedish Medical Center sleep neurologist Dr. Lina Fine: “The most powerful tool we have is language, and the smart phone has become a common way to communicate. It’s reflexive to go for something we use the most.” Indeed, people who use smartphones or computers right before they go to sleep are more likely to engage in parasomniac behaviors involving those devices.

Of course there are lots of potential negative ramifications from doing something while you’re, well, completely unconscious: one patient said he sent belligerent text messages to his boss, and another patient posted insulting comments about his girlfriend on Facebook. Other times the messages are incomprehensible gibberish, which is a lot less serious but still probably requires some explaining in the morning.

Even more worrisome, if a person is texting or using social media while asleep, they are at increased risk for more dangerous parasomniac activities, like trying to drive a car. 

The researchers recommend locking up smartphones and computers in another part of the house to make it harder to use them while asleep. They also recommend turning them off (and avoiding looking at any other device with a lighted screen, including TVs) at least one hour before going to sleep.

Tags: social media
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