Sexsomnia, also known as sleep sex is considered a medical disorder. The person who struggles with this will engage in sexual acts during non-rapid eye movement sleep (NREM). NREM sleep is a dreamless sleeping state. Were breathing and heart rate slow down and blood pressure lowers (Medicine Net). Sexsomnia is similar to sleepwalking. Here the individual can perform a wide range of sexual acts, such as; masturbation, moaning, fondling or trying to kiss their partner, and may even attempt to have sex. Not only that, but the intensity of their sexual behavior can vary from nonviolent to aggressive. In the past people have been raped, accusing their partner of sexual assault. When this occurs, the person will not have any recollection of what they have done. Unless their disorder is a result of sleep-epilepsy.
Doctors cannot pinpoint the cause of this rare disorder. It is only known that those with sleep talking or walking are at higher risk, than those who don’t. It is also believed that stress, sleep deprivation, and recreational drugs can trigger this disorder (Rishabh Banerji, 2016). In some cases people with sleep apnea or sleep-related epilepsy may have a predisposition to sexsomnia (Hiyaguha Cohen, 2018). It is a lot more common in men than women. It has been reported that women typically tend to masturbate and moan, while men fondle and try to have intercourse (John Cline, 2009). Although the same sexual behaviors have been observed in both men and women (John Cline, 2009).
To treat sexsomnia doctors prescribe benzodiazepines. This medication is also used on people with confusional arousals but has been reported to help those with sexsomnia and in some cases successfully treat it (John Cline, 2009). This disorder can be managed by improving sleep hygiene (ISSM, 2018). The individual needs to keep a sleeping schedule by going to bed at the same time every day. Sexsomniacs need to add a relaxing bed time ritual such as, mediation or reading a book (ISSM, 2018). If there is a drug or alcohol related problem, it must be treated as well. If all else fails then antidepressants can be prescribed.
Sexsomnia can destroy relationships and families. The individual who struggles with this disorder can end up feeling guilty. This disorder can also affect the sexual side of a romantic relationship because the partner who doesn’t have sexsomnia may feel like they don’t satisfy their lover or feel completely turned off. Experts suggest that partners and family members should sleep in a separate locked room until the disorder is under control.
Let’s go into the history of sexsomnia. This disorder was explained on a research paper by Dr. Colin Shaprio and Dr. Nik Trajanovic in 1996, but the paper wasn’t published till 2003 (Rishabh Banerji, 2016). Apparently, doctors and sleep specialists knew about sexsomnia and didn’t dare to acknowledge it due to the fear that society wouldn’t accept it (Rishabh Banerji, 2016).
Since the publication of the paper. Lawyers began to use this disorder in defense cases against rape and sexual assault. People began to worry that sexsomnia will be used as a false excuse, but experts say it is difficult to use it in court (Hiyaguha Cohen, 2018). The reason for this is that most sexsomniacs have a long history of sleeping disorders, meaning it doesn’t appear out of the blue (Hiyaguha Cohen, 2018). There are also tests that monitor brain waves during sleep. If the person uses sexsomnia as an excuse they most perform sexual acts during sleep while their brain waves are being monitored (Hiyaguha Cohen, 2018).
Have you ever heard of this disorder before? What other shocking sleeping disorders have you heard of? Let me know in comment section below.
Suggested reading: Diabulimia – The Eating Disorder No One Talks About
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Hiyaguha Cohen. (2018). Stress and Anxiey Linked to Sexomnia. Retrieved from: https://jonbarron.org/mental-health/beyond-insomnia-sexsomnia
International Society for Sexual Medicine – ISSM. (2018). How Is Sexomnia Treated?. Retrieved from: http://www.issm.info/sexual-health-qa/how-is-sexsomnia-treated/
John Cline. (2009). Sexomnia. Retrieved from: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/sleepless-in-america/200902/sexsomnia
Medicine Net. (date unknown). What is Sleep?. Retrieved from: https://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=8684#what_is_sleep
Rishabh Banerj. (2016). Sexomnia, Or Sleep Sex, Is an Actual Medical Disorder And It Can Ruin Lives. Retrieved from: https://www.indiatimes.com/health/sexomnia-or-sleep-sex-is-an-actual-medical-disorder-and-it-can-ruin-lives-256429.html