QUAD CITIES, Ia./Ill. — Kandi Gay, a paramedic in the Quad Cities, is one of roughly 70 million Americans dealing with a sleep disorder of some kind, and if you send her a text message about it while she’s sleeping, she’ll be able to reply to you.
She just won’t remember it when she wakes up.
Nine times out of 10, I have no idea I’d texted in the middle of the night or I responded to a text,” Gay said.
“We’ve known she’s done it for a couple years,” said her father Wayne Gay. “She’ll go to sleep and then I’ll come in and see her texting, [her phone] up in the air with her eyes closed – she’ll be texting and lay it down, and she won’t know what she’s doing.”
When it first started occurring several years ago, Kandi’s friends or co-workers would try to remind her of conversations they’d had through text messages or even a phone conversation.
“I’d be like, ‘No, I slept all day or all night,’ and they’re always like, ‘No, I saw you texting.'” Gay said. “I’d go back and look at my text messages and have full on conversations.”
The texts have never been awkward or of a regrettable nature – simply messages to keep the conversation going, a conversation Gay says those close to her know may be happening while she’s asleep.
“Exactly! They’re not so surprised or dumbfounded when I call back now and say, ‘What did we talk about?'”
So just how common is the ‘sleep texting’ phenomenon? No one really knows.
There are no scientific studies or stats on the subject, but Dr. Akshay Mahadevia, a sleep disorder specialist with Genesis Medical Systems says he’s seeing it, and hearing of it, more and more.
“They’re not totally asleep or awake in their consciousness, so they’re in a limbo state,” Dr. Mahadevia said, “and that’s where they act and do these things.”
As for a solution?
“If it’s sleep texting, take their phone away when they go to bed,” Dr. Mahadevia said. “but also try to find out whey they’re doing that in their sleep. It’s kind of fascinating!”
“I guess I’ve never tried it, but I’ve needed my phone for work if I get called in in the middle of the night for extra help or whatever,” Gay said.
Dr. Mahadevia added that disorders like Gay’s, called parasomnias, can be minor and sometimes entertaining such as sleep walking, sleep eating, etc., but they can turn unhealthy or dangerous in the wrong scenario.
“I [treated] a nice lady who said she gained 30 pounds because she ate every night but didn’t remember eating,” Dr. Mahadevia added.
For now, Kandi says she’ll deal with the disorder. She’s used to it by now and, in some respects, her relatives have found the silver lining to it.
“A lot of our friends and family know about this,” Wayne Gay added, “so they know if you can’t get a hold of us, you can get a hold of Kandi night or day!”