Sexsomnia: Not as funny as it sounds
Sexsomnia is one of those words that’s both titillating and disarming to hear.
It’s the name for a condition in which someone has a sexual experience while asleep, sort of like how people walk or talk in their sleep. It spawns jokes from the people it affects and from the people who are lucky enough not to have to deal with this sleep disorder.
Many of the emails I received in the week since beginning research about sexsomnia for tonight’s show have had a joking tenor. Like the one from “O.S.” in Boston who says that to his horror, sometimes he’d rip his wife’s clothes off during one of his episodes of sexsomnia, but still they “laugh about it later.”
Or the one from “M.M.” in San Francisco who says he wakes up after his “episodes” — which involve loudly talking about sex and moaning — only to find that his neighbors have heard and “snicker and make gestures.”
Or the one from a woman in Europe who says she would masturbate in her sleep. It was 10 years before her husband even mentioned it. It’s sometimes fodder for jokes between them, but she and her husband are at the same time trying to save their troubled marriage.
The jokes, well, they’re understandable. It’s an uncomfortable thing to talk about.
But after all of the conversations I’ve had the past week with “sexsomniacs” and all the time spent researching people it affects, including two who were tried in courts of law for initiating unwanted “sleep sex,” I’m erring on the side of seriousness.
Sexsomnia is one of those fascinating conditions that give us an opportunity not only to examine questions about what is sleep or consciousness, but a chance to examine our views about sex.
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Source: Smith, Stephanie- CNN Producer. (2006) “Sexsomnia: Not as Funny as it Sounds” http://www.cnn.com/CNN/Programs/anderson.cooper.360/blog/2006/03/sexsomnia-not-as-funny-as-it-sounds.html Retrieved: 17 Oct 2012