London - Many people claim they couldn’t live without their phone, but this addiction could be doing them more harm than good, experts warn.
New research suggests that excessive texting can cause a whole host of sleep problems.
US researchers found that people who send the most texts experience the most sleep problems.
They believe this could be because these people feel pressurised to respond to messages immediately regardless of the time, and that some people sleep with their phone next to their bed meaning they are woken up by incoming texts during the night.
Dr Karla Murdock at Washington Lee University found that first-year students who text a lot sleep less well, regardless of their level of stress.
She asked students to answer questions that assessed their emotional well-being and sleep problems. She also asked them to estimate how many text messages they sent and received on an average day.
To assess the students’ sleep quality, Murdock used the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index. This is a widely used instrument that measures multiple aspects of sleep quality such as sleep duration, the amount of time it takes to fall asleep, the amount of time actually spent sleeping while in bed, night-time disturbances, and daytime sleepiness.
The key finding was that a higher number of daily texts was associated with more sleep problems.
Murdock notes that this finding reinforces previous evidence pointing to a direct association between cellphone use and poor sleep in adolescents and young adults.
The study also found that frequent text messaging is associated with more friendship-related stress.
Murdock wrote: “These findings provide an initial indication that heavy text messaging could be problematic during times of stress.
“Although speculative, it could be argued that text messaging is a uniquely unsuitable mode of communication for coping with interpersonal stress in close relationships.”
For instance, Murdock suggested the abbreviated language that is common in texting lacks the ability to provide the kind of nuance that is important in discussing sensitive issues.
In addition, texting fails to offer critical non-verbal cues that would be part of a face-to-face conversation.
“Text messaging may carry a high risk of producing or maintaining misunderstandings and/or unproductive interactions during periods of stress,” she wrote.
“When interpersonal stress involves conflict, the conditions required for productive communication may be particularly difficult to achieve through texting.” – Daily Mail