New Study Links Heavy Texting, Sleep Problems in College Freshmen

Posted on September 28, 2013

"It could be argued that text messaging is a uniquely unsuitable mode of communication for coping with interpersonal stress in close relationships."

Sleep deprivation has long been considered a significant problem for college freshmen during their transition to campus life. Now, a new study by a Washington and Lee University psychology professor identifies another culprit when it comes to students and sleep problems: texting.

In an article in the latest edition of Psychology of Popular Media Culture, Karla Murdock reported that texting was a direct predictor of sleep problems among first-year students in a study that examined links among interpersonal stress, text-messaging behavior, and three indicators of college students' health: burnout, sleep problems and emotional well-being.

Although the results of the study showed that the impact of texting on students' psychological well-being depended on the level of interpersonal stress they were already facing, more texting was associated with poorer sleep regardless of their previous level of stress.

The study's findings on sleep were especially significant given the well-documented compromises in sleep that students experience throughout college, but especially in the first year. Several recent studies have shown that 70 percent of college students receive less than the eight recommended hours of sleep. A 2007 survey by the American College Health Association concluded that 40 percent of students feel rested only two days a week.

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 cell-phone use and poor sleep in adolescents and emerging adults.

Among the potential causes for this connection are two tendencies: students' feeling pressured to respond immediately to texts, no matter what time of day or night, and students’ sleeping with the phone nearby, thus being awakened by the alerts from incoming texts.


Category(s):Sleep Disorders

Source material from Washington and Lee University


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