Can You Text While Sleeping?

Medically reviewed by
 Dr. Jing Zhang, Neuroscientist

Dr. Jing Zhang, Neuroscientist

Jing Zhang is a prominent figure in the realm of sleep research, specializing in the intricate connection between sleep and memory. With an extensive research tenure exceeding 7 years, she…

Read more
Last Updated On November 24th, 2023
Can You Text While Sleeping?

Key Takeaways

  • Sleep Texting Phenomenon: Sleep texting is a real phenomenon where individuals send text messages while technically asleep, without any conscious awareness of the activity. It falls under the category of parasomnias and is particularly prevalent among those who keep their smartphones close while sleeping.
  • Factors Contributing to Sleep Texting: Sleep deprivation, stress, the habitual use of tech gadgets, certain medications, and environmental factors can contribute to sleep texting. Maintaining a sleep-friendly environment and managing psychological factors can help reduce the likelihood of engaging in this activity.
  • Prevention and Management: Preventing sleep texting involves prioritizing sleep hygiene, limiting screen time before bed, keeping the phone at a distance, and staying mindful of medications that may impact sleep. Implementing strategies such as the use of a passcode, limiting notifications, and maintaining a disconnected phone during sleep hours can also be effective in curbing sleep texting behavior.

Sleepwalking and sleep talking are well-known sleep disorders. But can you send or reply to text messages while you are sleeping?

Though the idea of sending text messages while you are sleeping is absurd and weird, the phenomenon is real and raises questions about the impact of gadgets on our sleep.

Save $450 On Any Mattress

Plus free shipping

Get $450 OFF Mattresses

In this post, we will be discussing the science behind sleep texting, how it is possible, its causes, and how you can prevent yourself from sending texts while asleep.

What Is Sleep Texting?

Sleep texting is the phenomenon that constitutes a person sending text messages while technically they are asleep. The person has no conscious awareness of the activity and doesn’t remember sending those texts.

Unlike sleepwalking, where multiple motor functions are involved, sleep texting is focused on the use of smartphones and sending texts.

This phenomenon is common among college students Verified Source National Library of Medicine (NIH) World’s largest medical library, making biomedical data and information more accessible. View source and youngsters who have a habit of keeping their gadgets close while they are asleep.

This condition is generally grouped with other parasomnias Verified Source National Library of Medicine (NIH) World’s largest medical library, making biomedical data and information more accessible. View source or abnormal activities that occur during sleep, and people don’t recall their behaviour.

How Is Sleep Texting Possible?

There are various stages of sleep, including Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep and non-REM (Non-Rapid Eye Movement) sleep.

Non-REM sleep consists of lighter sleep stages followed by deeper stages. The abnormal activities that occur in parasomnias, dreams, and sleep texting occurs in those light stages.

The brain activities are slowed in the light sleep stages, but it is not entirely inactive. Certain areas related to basic motor function and habit-based activities remain active.

This partial activity of the brain Verified Source National Library of Medicine (NIH) World’s largest medical library, making biomedical data and information more accessible. View source in non-REM can sometimes overtake the body and perform tasks like walking, eating, and even texting while asleep, which is also known as REM sleep behavior disorder.

In this state, the brain is not fully conscious but can perform well-learned tasks. The physiological mechanism behind it is not well- understood, sleep expert Dr. Jing Zhang explained, but some studies show that it might be due to the reduced activation of GABA, a neurotransmitter responsible to inhibit movement.

Causes of Sleep Texting

 While we don’t fully understand the root cause of sleep texting, several factors are known that may contribute to this unusual behavior.

Here are some of the key causes.

Sleep Deprivation

Lack of enough sleep over a long period of time can lead to lighter sleep stages. It disrupts your normal sleep cycle and increases the likelihood of parasomnias. It makes you prone to engaging in activities like sleep texting.

According to Dr. Jing Zhang, sleep deprivation and playing sounds during sleep are used in laboratory settings Verified Source Oxford Academic Research journal published by Oxford University. View source to invoke symptoms of parasomnia.

Stress & Anxiety

High levels of stress and anxiety can cause restless sleep and frequent awakenings. It opens up more opportunities for sleep texting to occur. Stressful life events or anxiety can exacerbate this condition by affecting your sleep cycle.


The use of certain medications that affect the central nervous system can lead to disrupted sleep patterns. These disrupted sleep patterns are associated with the likelihood of sleep texting.

Habitual Use of Tech Gadgets

It has become a norm to check your phone as the last thing before going to bed and one of the first things to do upon waking up. This habitual use of a smartphone can condition your brain to be more responsive to notifications, even if you are asleep.

Environmental Factors

Keeping your phone in your reach while you are asleep can be a contributing factor to sleep texting. By keeping your phone within your reach, you will be more likely to sleep text.

Moreover, your environment should be sleep-friendly so that you can fall into deep sleep stages. Sleeping in chaotic environments will lead to disturbed sleep.

Psychological Factors

Any underlying psychological condition or issues or sleep disorders may also contribute to sleep texting or worsen parasomnia. People with conditions like insomnia or sleepwalking can make individuals more susceptible to engaging in activities while asleep.

Preventing Sleep Texting

Sleep texting is not a fully understood phenomenon, but several known strategies can help minimize the likelihood of sleep texting.

Prioritize Sleep Hygiene

A better sleep environment can go a long way to prevent sleep texting. Sleeping in a dark, cool, and quiet room can promote deeper sleep stages where abnormal sleep activities are less likely to occur. Finding a sleep routine that works for you can be a process, says Dr. Jing Zhang, so take the time to find what works best for you and remember it’s normal to go through some trials and errors.

See also:

Limit Screen Time Before Bed

Smartphones emit blue light, which can interfere with the production of melatonin that helps regulate your sleep-wake cycle. Limiting your exposure to smart devices at least an hour before bedtime can improve sleep quality.

Plus, minimizing your phone use during the day and in the evening may make it less of an automatic behavior for you to perform at night.

If you can, set up a tech-free bedroom and relax with offline activities such as reading a traditional print book or taking a warm bath.

See also Should You Have A TV In Your Bedroom?

Keep Your Phone at a Distance and Unconnected

The most effective way to prevent sleep texting is by keeping your phone out of your reach when you go to bed. It creates a physical barrier which can be enough to prevent unconscious texting.

If possible, turn off your phone entirely, but if you need it on in case of an emergency or to serve as your alarm clock, try and make it as difficult as possible to use when you’re only half asleep.

Along with making sure your phone is a good distance from your bed, set up a passcode as an added barrier to using it.

Limiting notifications can also go a long way in preventing your brain’s response to them when semi-conscious. Activate the “Do Not Disturb” mode on your phone to prevent notifications from disrupting your sleep.

You can also keep it disconnected from Wi-Fi to prevent all sorts of notifications.

Stay Mindful of Medications

Certain medications and other substances that have an impact on your sleep cycle or nervous system can lead to sleeplessness.

Sleep deprivation or not getting enough sleep can make sleep texting more likely to happen. It is best to consult with your healthcare provider for tailored advice.

Other Abnormal Behavior During Sleep

In addition to sleep texting, there are several other uncommon sleep behaviors that can occur during sleep. These abnormal sleep activities fall under the category of parasomnias – unwanted events that happen when falling asleep, during sleep, or when waking up from sleep.

These abnormal sleep behaviors may seem harmless but can seriously impair sleep quality and daytime functioning. It is best to consult a sleep specialist if such activities frequently disrupt sleep. Maintaining sleep hygiene, managing stress and getting any underlying conditions treated can help manage parasomnias.

Sleep Talking

Sleep talking, also known as somniloquy, involves uttering words, speaking gibberish, or having full conversations while asleep without any recollection later. It typically arises during transitional sleep stages between non-REM and REM sleep.

Sleep talking can be triggered by stress, sleep deprivation, and medications. Usually harmless, it can disrupt the sleep of bed partners.


Sleepwalking or somnambulism involves getting up and walking around while in a state of sleep. It occurs during deep non-REM sleep due to partial arousals in the brain.

Sleepwalking episodes can involve other complex behaviors like eating, cooking, driving, etc. It often runs in families and is more common in children but can occur in adults too.

Periodic Limb Movement Disorder

Periodic Limb Movement Disorder (PLMD) involves repetitive movements of the limbs during sleep, usually legs and arms jerking. It transpires during non-REM sleep and can significantly impair sleep quality. Periodic limb movements are associated with daytime sleepiness, fatigue, and impaired cognition in some people. It tends to occur more in older adults.

REM Sleep Behavior Disorder

REM Sleep Behavior Disorder involves acting out vivid, intense dreams during REM sleep. Dreams are normally paralyzed during REM sleep but this paralysis doesn’t occur in this disorder. People end up physically moving in response to their dream content. Acting out dreams may involve talking, shouting, punching, kicking, and even jumping out of bed during sleep.

This acting out can prove dangerous for the person and their bed partner. These episodes often parallel the dream content. They mostly occur in the later part of the sleep period when REM sleep is longer. This disorder is commonly seen in older adults and managed using medications.


How rare is sleep texting?

Sleep texting is a relatively uncommon phenomenon with limited research and non-well-documented studies. However, with the increasing use of smartphones and smart devices, it is becoming a recognized condition. For example, sleepwalkers may act out regular phone use and other routine behaviors in a semi-conscious state.

Is sleep texting a parasomnia?

Yes, like other forms of parasomnias, such as sleepwalking and sleep eating, sleep texting is a parasomnia. It is a category of sleep disorder that involves unwanted behaviors or experiences that occur while falling asleep, sleeping, or waking up.  Speaking with a sleep specialist can help you devise a treatment plan and improve sleep hygiene.

How to stop sleep texting?

To stop sleep texting, we suggest following good sleeping habits, maintaining good sleep hygiene, and keeping your phone out of your reach. It is best to keep your phone disconnected from Wi-Fi or cellular data to prevent notifications. To manage an underlying disorder like sleepwalking episodes, though, it’s best to speak with your doctor or a sleep specialist.

Do sleep texters text every night?

It depends on the severity of the condition and contributing factors. However, it is not necessary or common to sleep text every night. The frequency can vary widely among individuals as many contributing factors like stress, sleep deprivation, and medication can impact sleep.

What are the symptoms of parasomnia?

Symptoms can manifest in various ways, depending on the specific type of parasomnia. Common indicators include abnormal behaviors during sleep, such as sleepwalking, sleep talking, sleep eating, or other unusual activities. Individuals may experience confusion and disorientation upon waking up or during the episode itself, often accompanied by incomplete or partial awakenings.

These disruptive behaviors can lead to fragmented sleep patterns, causing excessive daytime sleepiness, fatigue, and impaired cognitive function. Parasomnias can also disturb the sleep-wake transition, potentially impacting overall sleep quality and contributing to various health issues. Seeking guidance from a healthcare professional is crucial for accurate diagnosis and the implementation of appropriate management strategies.


Sleep texting is a surreal but modern sleep phenomenon that captures the intersection of technology and sleep health. The science behind sleep texting still needs to be clarified and requires more attention from research and studies.

However, it is associated with many other sleep disorders and sleep conditions. Maintaining a healthy sleep environment that helps you fall into deeper sleep stages can go a long way in mitigating the risks.

About the author

April Mayer is a sleep expert and writer with a degree in exercise physiology. She has dedicated her career to exploring the relationship between sleep and productivity. Her insightful articles, such as "The Surprising Way Your Mood Might Be Messing With Your Productivity" and "Wake Up to More Productive Mornings," have been featured in reputable publications like Forbes, Greatist, Real Homes, Thrillist, Tom's Guide, and Eat This, Not That. With a passion for helping others lead more productive lives through restful sleep, April offers valuable expertise on foods and vitamins for better sleep. As a trusted member of the Early Bird team since March 2020, she continues to provide informative and well-researched content.

View all posts

Discover the ultimate sleep system

Choose your mattress

Shop top-rated mattresses with proven sleep-boosting materials.

Get a pillow

We have the perfect pillow to pair with your mattress.

Browse Pillows

Pick out bedding

Bring out the best in your mattress with our soft and breathable bedding.

Browse Bedding