Sleep Texting a Growing Phenomenom

We’ve written before about the incredible popularity of phone texting, particularly among teenagers. So we were less than surprised when we heard about a growing phenomenon known as “sleep texting.”

As its name implies, sleep texting is texting while one is asleep. Usually the victim of sleep texting starts out texting while awake, falls asleep, and then continues texting while catching some Z’s.

In a recent broadcast about this phenomenon, NBC News reporters interviewed Dr. Mike Howell, a sleep doctor with the University of Minnesota Sleep Medicine Clinic. Dr. Howell noted that those most likely to sleep text are young people who come to him suffering from sleep deprivation and who are strongly attached to their phones.

When they sleep text they’re not quite awake and not quite asleep, according to the news station, which reported sometimes embarrassing scenarios for sleep texters – such as one young woman who unwittingly found herself texting an ex-boyfriend in her sleep, saying things that made her waking self cringe.

Sleep texting is no laughing matter. Doctors say sleep deprivation – one of the results of sleep texting – can have dangerous side effects such as heart problems, obesity, depression and worse.

To cure patients of sleep texting, doctors prescribe unplugging from phones and other technology for at least four days. During that time patients may feel withdrawal symptoms, but ultimately they begin to feel relief, according to the NBC report.



Setting Boundaries for Children

Numerous studies have documented the harmful side effects that technology overuse and abuse can have on children, with the dangers ranging from poor grades, social isolation, obesity, sleepless nights and worse.

So what’s a concerned parent to do? Below are a few simple suggestions for parents who want to motivate their technology-addicted child to unplug from technology.

  • Set clear boundaries. They may protest, but – as is true regarding many other aspects of life – children look to their parents to set boundaries on how much time spent surfing the Net, texting, or playing video games is appropriate.
  • Establish off-limit times. Enjoy meals without the intrusion of technology. Ban inappropriate technology use while homework is being done. Tune out technology at bedtime.
  • Follow through. Revoke technology privileges for rule violations. Remember – your child is relying upon you to establish the ground rules.
  • Set an example for your child by unplugging from technology when appropriate and using that time to reconnect with your loved ones.

For more suggestions on helping your child unplug from technology, check out our previous article on this topic.

Having the Last Word

Social media has done much to change the way we live. Now, thanks to a new Facebook app that lets people record their final wishes, it also can affect what happens after we die.

“If I Die” is a new Facebook app that allows individuals to post a final message to their Facebook wall for loved ones to see after they’ve died – with the help of three carefully selected “trustees” who are entrusted with posting the message.

App users can record videos or write messages to be published posthumously. Upon their death, their messages may be published all at once or released according to a designated schedule.

The app was created by Wilook, an Israeli company led by Eran Alfonta, who says the app responds to a basic human need. “We all have things to say and don’t necessarily have the audience with the patience to hear us,” Alfonta told the website Mashable. “Actually, we all want to leave something behind. We all want to leave a stamp behind us.”

We at Unplug and Reconnect think the app presents a very clever way to say the things we’d like our loved ones to know. But of course, we would argue that it’s better to tell our loved ones such important things – like how much they mean to us – while we are still alive.



The Conductor on the Train Says ‘Shhh!’

A growing number of commuters traveling on New York’s Metro North railroad apparently like to unplug and reconnect during their morning commute – so much so that the MTA recently announced yet another expansion of its pilot “Quiet Car” program to include rush-hour trains on its New Haven line.

The transportation agency’s Quiet Car initiative asks customers to refrain from using cell phones and to disable the sound feature on pagers, games, computers and other electronic devices during travel. Commuters riding in these specially designated cars are also asked to conduct conversations in subdued voices and to use headphone devices at a volume that cannot be heard by other passengers. If riders don’t comply, conductors hand them a card that reads “Shhh!”

According to the MTA, Quiet Cars have been catching on across the northeast. New Jersey Transit began its Quiet Car program on the North East Corridor Line in September 2010. Following a positive reception, Metro North partnered with NJ Transit to expand its Quiet Commute program in June 2011 to include all of Metro North’s peak West of Hudson Service, both the Pascack Valley and Port Jervis lines.

The pilot then expanded to 36 peak Hudson and Harlem Line trains in October 2011. The following December, the Long Island Rail Road launched its Quiet Car pilot program on select peak hour trains that operate between Far Rockaway and Atlantic Terminal.

MTA spokeswoman Marjorie Anders said it’s likely the initiative will be made permanent, due to overwhelming favorable response.

Want to enjoy some unplugging time during your rush-hour commute? New printed timetables show a “Q” to designate trains with a quiet car, which are usually the first car for morning trains and the last car for evening trains.

Game Puts Cell Phone Etiquette to Test

We  have long been proponents of putting away the cell phone at mealtimes. So naturally, we’re delighted with a new game making the rounds that challenges diners to put their cell phones away during restaurant meals . . . or else risk picking up the tab for everyone’s dinner.

According to “The Atlantic Monthly,” the game was developed by a group of friends in San Francisco who were looking for a way to enjoy conversations at dinner without the distraction of others talking and texting on their cell phones.

The rules are as follows:

  • The game starts after everyone orders
  • All parties must place their phone on the table face down
  • The first person to flip over their phone loses the game
  • The loser picks up the dinner tab
  • If no one loses, all participants pay for their share of the meal

There are, of course, opportunities for variations on this theme. For meals at home, the loser might be tasked with cleanup duty or have to forfeit the use of his or her cell phone for a set period of time.

Has cell phone usage cut into your mealtimes? Why not make a game of unplugging and reconnecting – it’s a fun way to break a not-so-fun habit!