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JEFFERSON CITY - First there was sleep talking and sleep walking but now, sleep texting? As crazy as it sounds, sleep texting, literally texting while asleep, has become an epidemic--especially with teens and young adults.

Roommates Ginny Fletcher and Paula Vanderlinden have been sleep texting almost every night for the past year. 

"I can text so well throughout the day I don't have to actually consciously think about it. The only thing I consciously think about is how to phrase my words," Vanderlinden said. "I'll wake up with a page-long text like oh...wonder who that was going to cause I don't...wow I said that? Good it didn't send."

Fletcher and Vanderlinden said most of their text messages have misspelled words and often don't make sense. The roommates attribute their sleep texting habits to the fact that they can easily text without looking.

According to a Pew Research Center Study, teens ages 18-24 send on average more than 109 text messages a day.

Dr. Raman Malhotra studies sleep at the Saint Louis University Department of Neurology and Psychiatry and said constantly hearing the sound of an incoming text can have long term effects on sleep patterns.

"If you get a page or an alarm or someone calls you in the middle of the night, that can just partially awaken you from the stages of sleep and then in the morning you're gonna notice the difference, especially if that happens more than once at nighttime," Malhotra said. "When the lights go down our body naturally makes hormones that kinda get us ready for bed, relax us for bed, and by staring at the TV screen or your smartphone or any other kind of light that can disrupt that, and your body is a little confused on whether it should go to sleep or not."

Malhotra said the best way to avoid sleep texting and disrupting sleep is to keep cell phones a safe distance away from the bed.

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