Girl texting in bedDid you know more than 75 percent of teenagers have a cellphone? If your teen is like many of the teens I see as a pediatric psychologist at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, it is a struggle to get them to put it down or turn it off. Many teens have their phone constantly in their hands and answer it at any hour – even in the middle of the night. They also stay up late texting friends and fall asleep with their phones on their pillow.

There is a new phenomenon called sleep texting. Teens reach for their phone during the night and send messages without waking. They don’t even remember sending texts the next day. Since the average teen sends approximately 100 texts per day — that’s 3,000 texts per month — it is not surprising that the motor responses are available in a sleep state.

Biological changes in puberty make it harder for teens to fall asleep and stay asleep. Jobs, sports, academic pressures and social media add to reasons why teens have difficulty getting adequate sleep. The average teen needs nine hours of sleep a night, but most don’t get it.

Tips to help your teenager

Many teens text, play games or search the Web on their phones before going to bed. Here are some tips to help your teen with cellphone and technology overuse:

  • Limit how much time your teen is allowed to be on electronic media throughout the day.
  • Get your teen exercising. Going outside, especially in the morning, helps with light exposure and wakefulness. Regular exercise helps work off emotional energy and makes for a tired child.
  • Eliminate electronics in the bedroom. No TV’s, electronic readers, handheld games or cellphones should be allowed in the bedroom since they are not compatible with good sleep.

If you’re concerned about your child’s sleep habits, talk to your pediatrician or contact one of our specialists in the Sleep Center at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin at (414) 266-2790.

Suzie Franklin, PhD~ Suzie Franklin, PhD, pediatric psychologist, Sleep Center, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin

The Sleep Center at Children’s Hospital is the only sleep center in the state dedicated solely to the care of children and teens. The center is one of only two pediatric sleep labs in the country with two locations (Milwaukee and New Berlin) accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and staffed by four board-certified pediatric sleep specialists.


Sleep texting: An increasing concern for teens — 1 Comment

  1. It’s no surprise that texting has surpassed alcohol in teen fatalities, but this disorder is alarming in the sense that sleep deprivation is also climbing in the ranks of teen fatalities. As the Driver Education Mgr. for Southwest Tech in Fennimore and an online and classroom instructor for Driver Education, this is becoming a major hurdle to overcome when teaching our teens the dangers of texting and driving. This article is just one more to jump over when trying to impart this very important part in the driver education. Thank you for the information!