Sexsomnia Not as Pleasant as One Might Think

Sleep sex: Sexsomnia is a real condition that may not be as pleasant as one might think

Sleep sex: Sexsomnia is a real condition that may not be as pleasant as one might think

Sexsomnia is a form of sleep disorder called parasomnia, or unwanted behavior that occurs during sleep. Sharon A. Chung, a staff scientist in the Sleep Research Laboratory at the University Health Network in Toronto stated, “An act of parasomnia can be as small as opening your eyes while fast asleep or grinding your teeth, to getting up and vacuuming, speaking, eating or having sex,” Chung said. However, nearly 8 percent of patients referred to a sleep disorders clinic reported they had initiated or taken part in sexual behavior while sleeping. Men accounted for three-quarters of the self-reported sexsomniacs. About 11 percent of men and 4 percent of women said they had engaged in “sleep sex.”  

Sex. Sounds good no matter what the circumstances, right? Well, sexsomnia, having sex while asleep, is a common complaint of patients who seek treatment for sleep disorders, and can range from masturbation to intercourse, new research shows. Chung has expressed, “We were surprised how common it was. We thought we’d get just a handful of people, yet it was almost one in twelve. Generally, people have no awareness of what they are doing and no recollection of it.”  (About a Sexsomniac)

Sexsomnia is more than a medical curiosity. It has been used as a criminal defense in sexual assault cases around the country. In 2008, a Toronto man was found not guilty of sexually assaulting a woman after the court heard evidence that the man had engaged in “sleep sex” with several former girlfriends, according to news reports.
Sexsomnia is treatable with medications including benzodiazepines, such as clonazepam, which is also used to treat epilepsy and anxiety disorders, according to Dr. Lisa Shives, medical director of Northshore Sleep Medicine in Evanston, Illinois.

The occurrence of sexsomnia is probably far greater than is reported. Few patients bring the issue up with the doctors due to embarrassment, the fact that doctors rarely ask about it, or that patients aren’t particularly bothered by it, Chung had shared.  (Confessions of a Sexsomniac)

Chung also stated, “Is it a problem? As long as you don’t get into legal problems and as long as your partner doesn’t mind, it’s not a problem.”

SOURCES: Sharon A. Chung, Ph.D., staff scientist, Sleep Research Laboratory, Department of Psychiatry, University Health Network, Toronto; Lisa Shives, M.D., medical director, Northshore Sleep Medicine, Evanston, Ill.; June 7, 2010, presentation, SLEEP 2010, San Antonio

Kelley, KC.  (2010) Health and Fitness          

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