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.



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!

Show You Care – Deliver a Tech Intervention

Do you know of someone who spends entirely too much time plugged into their Blackberry? Does their idea of true social interaction usually involve spending quantity time on social media sites like Facebook or Twitter?

Would you like to let your plugged in friend know that you’re concerned about them? Well now you can, thanks to the folks who bring you, a social networking portal that facilities in-person group meetings.

Recently, the Meetup team launched a new website,, which allows you to send a friend or loved one a prepackaged “intervention email” and an invitation to view an animated video that cleverly illustrates the perils of tech addiction.

The sponsors say they are responding to an epidemic they call “Screen Addiction,” in which “the electronic screens invade every corner of your life.”

Selecting from a dropdown menu, you can customize your missive — telling your tech-obsessed friends that you “care” or, alternatively, that their habit is “getting annoying” or that you “know what it’s like.” Other customization features let you express fear that your email recipient risks turning into a zombie or may soon forget how to say words out loud. You can even ask your plugged-in friends to think about when they last saw the sun, laughed out loud instead of LOL’d, or did something that didn’t involve a screen.

We think the concept behind is a great idea. If you’re worried that someone you know is a little too wired to technology, why not deliver a tech intervention today?






NTSB Recommends Ban on Cell Phones While Driving

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has recommended a full ban on the use of cell phones and text-messaging devices while driving. The NTSB recommendation encompasses all cell phone usage while driving – including the use of Bluetooth wireless devices.

It’s a recommendation that we at Unplug and Reconnect heartily endorse.

There can be little doubt that talking on a cell phone or texting while driving can have deadly consequences.  According to the NTSB, some 3,092 roadway fatalities last year involved distracted drivers, many of whom were distracted by their cell phones.

“Needless lives are lost on our highways, and for what? Convenience? Death isn’t convenient,” said NTSB chairman Deborah Hersman,

The NTSB doesn’t have the power to impose regulations, but its recommendations are heavily considered by lawmakers. Many states already ban cell phones.

The independent federal agency’s recommendation coincided with news that a 19-year-old pickup truck driver who caused a deadly pileup in Missouri last year had sent or received 11 texts in the 11 minutes preceding the accident involving two school buses. The truck driver and a 15-year-old student were killed in the accident and 38 others were injured.

“Driving was not [the truck driver’s] only priority,” noted the NTSB’s Hersman.

Disturbingly, the use of cell phones while driving is on the rise, and especially alarming is the number of drivers who text while operating a moving vehicle, according to the NTSB. The federal agency found in a study of 6,000 American drivers that about two out of every 10 – and half of drivers between 21 and 24 – say they’ve texted or emailed while driving. What’s worse, most of those surveyed found nothing wrong with the practice.

As these attitudes indicate, it will take more than laws to halt the improper use of cell phones on the road. Public education campaigns and strict enforcement of cell phone laws must accompany a nationwide ban as proposed by the NTSB.

We think the NTSB’s high-profile recommendation and – significantly – its efforts to highlight the dangers of cell phone abuse among motorists and law enforcement officials, are certainly a step in the right direction.

Magazine: How We Unplugged

Hot off the newsstands this week is the latest issue of Mishpacha Jewish Family Weekly “Family First” section, with a feature story describing the experiences of some of those who chose to Unplug & Reconnect on Sunday, Oct. 2, the “Day to Disconnect.”

The publication, which reaches more than 250,000 readers, reports that tens of thousands of hours were devoted to unplugging from technology on this one day, with participants spending that time reconnecting with the people and events that are meaningful to them. The initiative was conceived by Ohr Naava, a Brooklyn-based women’s organization, and sponsored by Ohr Naava and Unplug and Reconnect.

“From the start, there was a natural synergy between Unplug and Reconnect and . . . Day to Disconnect,” says Dr. Joseph Geliebter, founder of Unplug and Reconnect. “Unplug and Reconnect brought a greater emphasis on ‘reconnecting’ to the disconnect mission.”

While event organizers anticipated that businesspeople and teens would be the among the most “wired,” of event participants, they were surprised to learn that oftentimes it was young mothers who confessed to being the most plugged in, according to Mishpacha. “Many of them found cutting the tie to their cell phones surprisingly more liberating than constraining,” Mishpacha reported. One mother told the magazine, “I never thought of myself as too obsessed with technology, but evidently I’ve been stuck pretty deep. I was so excited to spend three hours with myself and my family and found myself happier those few hours and definitely more patient with those around me.”

Overwhelmingly, people pledged hours away from technology in pursuit of family activities – whether it was spending time with a spouse, children, grandchildren, parents, or grandparents. Poignantly, one father reported, “I played with my two-and-a-half-year-old son and for the first time ever, I gave him my full attention!”

Addicted to Technology

Many participants in Day to Disconnect recognized that they might be addicted to technology. One young man told Mishpacha that after disconnecting for four hours, he realized that his cell phone had become like “a drug, an addiction, one I can’t stop. Whenever I’m interacting with other people and my pocket vibrates, even if I don’t look into my pocket, I’m far more curious what e-mail, text, or [BlackBerry message] I just received than what the person I’m talking to is saying.”

Indeed, we’re so enamored of our cell phones that many of us even sleep with these devices under our pillows, the magazine noted. One young woman opted to disconnect from her cell phone at midnight, moving her cell phone far from her bedroom. “. . . When I woke up . . . I felt refreshed and invigorated, since I actually slept a full eight hours. No disturbing texts stealing my REM sleep, no vibrating phone beneath my pillow, just a deep revitalizing sleep,” she reported.

Still disconnected later that day, this same young woman discovered what organizers of Day to Disconnect had hoped participants would realize: “I found it’s possible to communicate without my communication devices,” she said.