What is Sexsomnia?  Sleep Disorders Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, Questions.

What is Sexsomnia? Sleep Disorders Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, Questions.

3 minutes, 49 seconds Read

You’ve probably heard about sleep walking and sleep talking—but what about sleep sex? Sexsomnia, or “sleep sex,” is a sleep disorder that causes people to have sex while they are fully asleep, when they are not aware of what they are doing.

How do you know if you have sexsomnia? If you are experiencing sexsomnia symptoms, how can you treat it, and what can you do to protect yourself and your family? Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about sexsomnia.

What is sexsomnia?

Sexsomnia is a type of parasomnia, or a disorder characterized by abnormal behavior during sleep. Parasomnia behaviors may include talking, walking, eating, sleeping, or even driving—and for those who are sexually active, that behavior is sex.

Sexsomnia can include masturbation, rumination, pelvic thrusting, spontaneous orgasm, or initiating sexual intercourse with others. People with sexsomnia have no awareness or memory of their actions.

How common is sexsomnia?

It is difficult to know exactly how many people experience sexsomnia, because patients do not always share these symptoms with their doctors. “The whole issue is full of guilt and shame,” said Dr. says Chris Winter, MD, neurologist, sleep expert, and host of the Sleep Unplugged podcast. “But [sexsomnia] is more common than people think.”

According to research presented at the 2010 meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies LLC, nearly 8% of sleep disorder patients reported sexsomnia. Among the patients, men are almost three times more likely than women to show symptoms of sexsomnia.

How is sexsomnia diagnosed?

“It is usually diagnosed in the hospital,” said Dr. Winter explains. “Maybe a couple comes in and says twice a month, one guy has sex while he’s sleeping, and he doesn’t seem to remember it very well. Or someone saying, ‘I heard a commotion in bed and realized that my partner was asleep and didn’t seem to know what was going on.'”

Dr. Winter says that it can be embarrassing for patients to bring up this behavior with a doctor, but for people with sexsomnia, getting help as soon as possible can be very important for their health, their safety, and the safety of other family members.

Morsa’s photo//Getty Images

What causes sexsomnia symptoms?

“People who already have sleep problems—sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome, narcolepsy—are more likely to get sick. [sexsomnia episodes] repeatedly,” Dr. Winter says. Sleep disturbances such as travel and stress can trigger sexsomnia, as can alcohol and sleeping pills. “The biggest cause of sexsomnia in this country is probably the use of sleeping pills like Ambien—that’s a big cause of parasomnias in general,” Dr. Winter says.

How do you treat sexsomnia?

Go to the doctor.

If you believe you may be experiencing sexsomnia, seek help from a doctor. A sleep specialist can diagnose and treat other underlying sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea, which can reduce or eliminate your sexsomnia symptoms. Your doctor may also tell you to stop, reduce, or change any sleeping pills you’re taking and stick to a regular sleep schedule. “Regular bedtime and regular wake time are very important,” Dr. Winter says. He recommends that you avoid alcohol and caffeine in the evening.

See a mental health professional.

A mental health professional can also help you regulate your sleep and reduce sexsomnia episodes. “There are some behavioral strategies that can help, such as when you think about some things to do before you go to sleep,” said Dr. Winter says. If you live with a partner, a couples therapist can help you develop a plan to manage your sexsomnia together and recover from the consequences of sexsomnia episodes—which can be scary. to everyone involved.

Protect others in your home.

In addition to seeking treatment, identifying and avoiding the causes of sexsomnia, and improving your overall sleep hygiene, protecting your safety and the safety of others in your home is extremely important. That may include sleeping in a separate room from the rest of the family. “Some patients even put an alarm on the bedroom door,” Dr. Winter says. “If they get up and open the door, the alarm goes off, which often wakes them up or wakes up someone else to let them know that this person is leaving their room.”

A final word about sexsomnia:

It’s worth repeating that you should seek help for sexsomnia as soon as you recognize that something is wrong.

“You may feel really out of control, but these things can be fixed,” Dr. Winter says. “The first step is talking to someone about it.”

Head of Ro White

Ro White is a Chicago-based author, sex educator, and Autostraddle’s Sex & Dating Editor.


Bakhtawar S Usmani

I am an all-rounder in a world full of barbies! Keeper of multiple birds and cats. I may make punctuation mistakes, but they come up for turning into a crore or two extra. Thus, a well-placed crore seems a better choice for me.

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