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More Texting, More Sleep Problems For College Students

Update Date: Sep 30, 2013 05:42 PM EDT

Texting may increase the risk of sleep problems among college students, according to a new study.

Researchers analyzed the links between interpersonal stress, text-messaging behavior, and three indicators of college students' health: burnout, sleep problems and emotional wellbeing. They found that texting was a direct predictor of sleep problems among college freshman.

The study found that more texting was associated with poorer sleep, regardless of stress levels.

For the study, first-year college students filled out questionnaires that measured academic and social burnout, emotional wellbeing and sleep problems. Students were also asked to estimate how many text messages they send and receive on an average day.

Researchers used the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index with minor modifications to fit the college sample to assess the students' sleep quality.

The findings revealed that a higher number of daily texts correlated with more sleep problems.

Researchers said the latest findings support previous studies showing a direct association between cell phone use and poor sleep in adolescents and young adults.

Researchers explain that more texts may equal less sleep because students may feel pressured to respond immediately to texts, no matter what time of day or night, and students sleeping with a phone nearby may be woken by alerts from incoming texts.

The study also linked frequent text messaging to greater psychological vulnerability and interpersonal stress.

"These correlational 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," study author Karla Murdock of Washington and Lee University said in a news release.

"Text messaging may carry a high risk of producing or maintaining misunderstandings and/or unproductive interactions during periods of stress," she added. "When interpersonal stress involves conflict, the conditions required for productive communication may be particularly difficult to achieve through texting."

The findings are published in the journal Psychology of Popular Media Culture.

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