Comprehensive Overview of Sexsomnia

Introduction                                                                                                                                     I have struggled with daily life and interactions with others since I was diagnosed with severe sexsomnia in 2006. Imagine going to sleep at night and waking the next morning feeling fatigued, out of sorts, and that something within yourself just does not feel quite right but not knowing what or why you feel this way. Then, as you go about your day, you are contacted by someone you do not know stating that you had sexual relations with them. As a person truly afflicted with sexsomnia this is my very serious and frightening reality.  (About)

The intent of this article is to provide a comprehensive overview of sexsomnia aka sleep sex. We will define sexsomnia, identify suspected symptoms, cite current medically accepted causes, provide a link to general triggers, list a few of the effects of sexsomnia, present the current medically accepted treatment options, and provide links for further reading and discussion.

What is Sexsomnia?
Wikipedia defines Sexsomnia as:
Sleep sex, or sexsomnia, is a condition in which a person will engage in sexual acts while still asleep. This condition falls within the broad classes of sleep disorders known as parasomnia. Sexsomnia includes fondling, heterosexual and homosexual intercourse, masturbation, and oral sex. In extreme cases sexsomnia has even been alleged as the cause of rare instances of sexual assault and rape. The proposed medical diagnosis is NREM Arousal Parasomnia – Sexual Behavior in Sleep. Sexsomnia is considered a type of non-rapid eye movement sleep (NREM) parasomnia. Sexsomniacs do not remember the acts they perform while they’re asleep. Sexsomnia can co-occur alongside other sleep disorders such as sleepwalking, sleep apnea, night terrors and bedwetting and can be triggered by stress, previous sleep deprivation and excessive consumption of alcohol or drugs. Sleep related epilepsy may be associated with sexual arousal, pelvic thrusting and orgasms, though in these sorts of cases the acts are often remembered. Sexsomnia episodes could be triggered by physical contact with a bed partner. Sexsomnia which is a fairly new medically recognized behavior has been used in many criminal defense cases of rape. There have also been several cases of sexsomnia which have appeared in the news and also in pop culture as reality shows, movies etc.

Check out the full definition of Sexsomnia

A great book for better understanding sexsomnia is [amazon_link id=”1401037666″ target=”_blank” ]Sleepsex: Uncovered[/amazon_link]

Suspected Symptoms

  • Performing Sexual Actions While Asleep Either by Yourself or With Someone Else
  • Fatigue
  • Confusion
  • Sensation of Disorientation Upon Wakening
  • Unexplained sickness (i.e. strep throat, mono, fever, etc…)
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Current Medically Accepted Causes
Specific causes of sexsomnia are currently unknown. The following are generally accepted as precipitous factors to sexsomnia.

  • Alcohol Consumption
  • Drug Use; the use of legal or illicit drugs (i.e. Several prescribed sleep pills and mood altering substances warn of possible side effects including sleepwalking, sleepdriving, sleepeating, and sleep sex. All which fall under Parasomnias.)
  • Fatigue
  • Stress

More reserach is necessary to isolate the causes and risks of sexsomnia.

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Generally Accepted Triggers
Triggers are the underlying factors that ultimately lead to a sexsomnia episode. (A Sexsomnia Episode is the term used for the actual event)

Triggers vary amongst sexsomniacs. The degree of sexsomnia (i.e. light, mild, severe) that a person is diagnosed with may determine which triggers a sexsomniac has and how many.

See Triggers for more information.

Effects of Sexsomnia

  • Anger
  • Confusion
  • Denial
  • Fear
  • Frustration
  • Guilt
  • Repulsion
  • Shame

These very negative emotions combine to form a tsunami of stress for a sexsomniac. It is imperative for every sexsomniac to learn how to process these emotions in a healthy, constructive  and positive way to overcome sexsomnia episodes. Please seek the counsel of your personal physician for more information about sexsomnia and stress mitigating techniques.

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Currently Available Medical Treatments
Sexsomnia is not a condition in which one can take a pill or undergo treatment to permanently eradicate the illness. In this way, sexsomnia is much like cancer, a chronic condition that can be treated but never fully cured. Please understand that a sexsomniac does not ask for or do anything wrong to get sexsomnia no more than a cancer patient requests cancer.

The good news is that sexsomnia, depending on its severity, can be treated in a different ways to reduce the frequency of sexsomnia episodes. Often by a physician prescribing certain medications coupled with psychotherapy from an understanding and knowledgeable psychiatrist or psychologist.

Be advised, that currently, it is thought and sleep studies suggest that sexsomnia often has other underlying sleep disorders associated with this condition. The first step if you suspect that you or someone you know may have sexsomnia is to schedule an appointment with your physician and apprise him/her of your concerns. Untreated sleep disorders can cause sleep disorders which may include sexsomnia aka sleep sex.  (Sleep Centers)

Are you a Sexsomniac or know a Sexsomniac?  Share your story with us.

Helpful Resources
Dr. Cline, J. (2009) Sleepless in America http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/sleepless-in-america/200902/sexsomnia  Retrieved 28 Nov 2012

Smith, M. (2006) reviewed by Dr. Jasmer, R. SLEEP: Sex While Sleeping Is Real, and May Be No Joke                                  http://www.medpagetoday.com/primarycare/sleepdisorders/3568?np=1&xid=ob_pcp   Retrieved 28 Nov 2012

NBC News (2006) ‘Sexsomniacs’ Puzzle Medical Researchers http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/15427247/ns/health-sexual_health/t/sexsomniacs-puzzle-medical-researchers/#.ULZ99-Tg00E                                                              Retrieved 28 Nov 2012

Myers, W. (2010) reviewed by Dr. Marcellin What is Sexsomnia? http://www.everydayhealth.com/sleep/what-is-sexsomnia.aspx                             Retrieved 28 Nov 2012

Dr. Mangan, M. (Website) Sexual Behavior Sleep                   http://www.sleepsex.org/index.html                                                                              Retrieved 28 Nov 2012  Read Dr. Mangan’s book  [amazon_link id=”1401037666″ target=”_blank” ]Sleepsex: Uncovered[/amazon_link]

Sexsomniacs Journey (Website) “Path to Understanding and Healing” Online Community Dedicated to Sexsomniacs, Those Who Love Us, and The Curious http://sexsomniacsjourney.com                                                                                       Retrieved 28 Nov 2012

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Disclosure
I am not a doctor or medical professional. The information contained within this post should not be considered medical advice or in lieu of seeking the professional assistance of your physician. This article was composed for individual reading and as a means to learn more about this condition. If you, or someone you know, suspect that you or another person you know may have Sexsomnia, please consult your personal physician promptly.

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