Sexsomnia is also known as sexual sleepwalking orsleep sex. It is a sleep disorder that involves unconsciously engaging in sexual behavior during sleep.
Sexsomnia is a parasomnia – behavioral disorder during sleep – and is related to NREM sleep. In fact, people who suffer from it usually do not remember anything the next day. Regarding the prevalence of this disorder, the data indicate that men are the most affected.
Sexsomnia or sexual somnambulism
This is a rare and little known disorder.Many sufferers do not consult their doctor or psychologist for fear of being judged or simply ashamed.
Research has found that 10% of adults with parasomnia exhibit this atypical sexual behavior during sleep. However, there is little documentation on the subject, the first study was conducted in 1996, although the first cases described date from the year 2000, and that the term as such began to be used in 2003.
Like sleepwalking, episodes of sexsomnia occur mainly in the NREM sleep phase. This is why sexsomnia is also known as sexual somnambulism. Moreover, during the NREM phase, the person does not dream.
Another curious fact is that sexsomnia can occur at the same time as other parasomnias, such as sleepwalking mentioned above or even restless legs syndrome.. This is a neurological disorder that is characterized by unpleasant sensations in the legs and an uncontrollable urge to move and walk when we rest.
What is the experience of a person suffering from sexsomnia?
The person suffering from sexsomnia performs unconscious sexual behavior while asleep. These behaviors include the fact ofstroking, scrubbing, moaning, masturbating or having full sex, among others. In addition, the person, on waking, often does not remember having realized these sexual behaviors.
There are documented cases of sexsomnia in which sex with strangers occurred while the person was sleepwalking.Other cases even report sexual assault or rape during sleep.
As we will see later,the consequences of sexsomnia can be very unpleasant not only for those who suffer from it, but also for those who sleep by their side.
Factors that can trigger sexsomnia
There are several factors that can precipitate this disorder.Among the main causes of sexsomnia, we can find the following:
- The stress
- Sleep apnea
- Drug use
- Use of certain drugs (neuroleptics or sleeping pills)
- Excessive fatigue
Sexsomnia is usually caused by something that causes the person to wake up during sleep and engage in sexual behavior.This trigger can be a noise, the contact of the person with whom she sleeps, sleep apnea or epilepsy associated with sleep.
Consequences of sexsomnia
The consequences of this disorder affect the person suffering from this condition, the people who share the bed with her and all the people who are the object of the sexual behavior.In addition to the marital and personal problems that may arise, there may also be legal implications.
The legal repercussions are mostly observed in cases where minors are involved and where penetration has been achieved. The latter are often wrongly judged as rapes.
Some cases of sexual abuse have been resolved in favor of the perpetrators as they have been able to demonstrate that they suffer from sexsomnia. Others, however, have been solved in the opposite direction.There is still a legal vacuum in this respect.
The person suffering from this disorder may experience confusion, denial, guilt and shame, among other emotions. They may also feel anger, fear and frustration. Managing this situation in stable couples is usually difficult and, in some cases, acts as an additional reason for disruption.
The long-term consequences are not yet very clear because this disorder tends to appear for shorter periods of time than other parasomnias. However, this is a very recent area of study where many questions remain open at this time.
Treatment of sexsomnia
There is no specific treatment for sexsomnia. In the pharmacological field, some drugs such as sedatives and antidepressants have been tried, but none has really worked.
The treatment of choice is to attack the risk factors.This is why it is advisable to avoid alcohol and drug use, to create an environment conducive to sleep, to treat sleep apnea in the event that it exists, as well as to avoid triggering stress.
As we can see, sexsoomnia is a serious disorder that can have legal repercussions. The consequences for the couple can be very complex, even breaking it.We still do not know much about this disorder, which is why it is necessary to continue to progress in research.