File photo: African News Agency (ANA)
Sleeping with your phone next to your pillow is a bad habit, but researchers have found it can lead to even worse behaviour.

Millennials are increasingly falling prey to "sleep texting", a new study from Villanova University has found. A growing number of varsity-aged students are texting as they drift off to sleep, or are still asleep - only to forget having sent the messages the next morning.

Researchers surveyed 372 students at two universities. They tracked the students’ cellphone use during sleep and their quality of sleep.

Students were asked how many hours they sleep in the week and on weekends, as well as where they keep their phone while they sleep.

A sizeable 25.6% said they had "sleep texted" before, citing poor sleep quality and their cellphone as factors that influence their sleep.

Of that number, up to 72% of those who have sleep texted said they had no memory of doing it, and 25% said they have no memory of what they texted.

Scientists noted that students tend to get less sleep than other age groups, averaging roughly 6.9 hours of sleep each night, due to busy schedules, less adult supervision and other factors.

The rise of smartphone addiction and an "always-on" lifestyle has led to the rise of sleep texting among adolescents and young adults, they say.

Adolescents and young adults send about 60 to 100 text messages a day on average, according to researchers. Sleep texting has consequences for quality of sleep too.

The beep or buzz of a cellphone indicating that a call has come in awakens the sleeper, who instinctively reaches over and responds to the message.

Thankfully, users who have reportedly sleep texted someone aren’t sending anything too embarrassing.