Although the study by Karla Murdock from Washington and Lee University 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 students in the study, all in their first year, answered questions that measured academic and social burnout, emotional well-being and sleep problems. Murdock also asked them to estimate how many text messages they send and receive on an average day.
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.
To assess students' sleep quality, Murdock used the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index with minor modifications to fit the college sample and found that a higher number of daily texts was associated with more sleep problems.
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.
Meantime, the study found that frequent text messaging was also associated with greater psychological vulnerability to interpersonal stress.
The study is published in journal Psychology of Popular Media Culture.