Sexsomnia: Dangerous sleep condition you may not have heard of

Sleepwalking, sleep talking and insomnia are all types of sleeping disorders most people are likely familiar with, but ‘Sexsomina is a health condition that remains largely unspoken of.

Sexsomnia - or sleep sex - is a rare parasomnia where individuals engage in sexual acts while asleep and the worrying thing is the individual is not typically aware of what they are doing.

Sexsomina is a health condition that remains largely unspoken of. Photo: Supplied

The condition, which predominantly affects men, can see a person engaging in sexual vocalisations, masturbation, fondling, and attempted intercourse, which can have a serious impact if they are sharing a bed with a partner.

A specialist team from Delamere Health, a rehab centre in the UK, explains to Yahoo Lifestyle why they believe sexsomnia occurs, what might be causing people to engage in these nocturnal sexual activities, and what you can do if you think you or your partner may be exhibiting symptoms of the condition.


What is sexsomnia?

Sexsomnia occurs during the non-rapid eye moment (NREM) sleep cycle, and often causes self-touching or sexual acts, but can also cause individuals to attempt sexual intimacy with others unknowingly. Sex sleep may coincide with other disorders, such as sleepwalking and sleep talking.

"With sexsomnia, the individual is not typically aware they are engaging in sexual activity during sleep," a spokesperson said. "After displaying sexual behaviours, most sexsomniacs have no recollection of the event and are sometimes even in denial that the event even happened."

tired man
The condition predominantly affects men. Photo: Getty

What are the signs and symptoms of sexsomnia?

Sexsomnia presents differently from person to person. However, there is a selection of common symptoms individuals begin to display during a sleep sex episode:

  • Fondling or rubbing

  • Masturbating

  • Pelvic thrusting

  • Spontaneous orgasm

  • Heavy breathing

  • Increased heart rate

  • Sexually fondling someone else

  • No recollection of events

  • Unresponsive during event

  • Engaging in sexual intercourse

  • Sleep-related violence

  • Blank or glassy stare during events

"The issue with sexsomnia is that the individual suffering may not realise it," the team warns. "Those that tend to recognise the issue first are partners, roommates, friends or even parents.

"Symptoms can become more assertive than they would typically be if the individual had been awake, making those behaviours aggressive, violent and potentially harmful to those surrounding them."

As such, sexsomnia events can often result in physical effects on others, from lacerations to bruising. Those staying within close proximity of the individual suffering from sexsomnia should consider sleeping in separate bedrooms and locking the door until the issue is resolved.

Triggers and management of sexsomnia

"Parasomnias, including sleepwalking, sleep talking and sexsomnia are commonly caused by a disruption while the brain is transitioning between each deep sleep cycle," the spokesperson explains.

Medical experts also believe there are some clear risk factors that make sexsomnia more likely in certain individuals than others. These factors include sleep deprivation, stress, fatigue, anxiety, alcohol, medication and irregular sleep patterns.

Health specialists have also reported underlying medical conditions that can also lead to sexsomnia. These conditions include; a history of parasomnia including sleepwalking or sleep talking, sleep fragmentation like sleep apnea or restless leg syndrome, migraine, head injuries, epilepsy and other seizure disorders and irritable bowel syndrome.

Individuals can help to reduce symptoms by maintaining a healthy and regular sleep pattern.

Monitoring your sleep behaviour will allow those suffering to find the triggers that are causing sleep sex, once those triggers are discovered, you might benefit from sleep therapy, therapy, counselling or prescribed meditation.

Alcohol and drugs can heavily influence parasomnia, so it’s advised for individuals to limit usage or stop consumption overall.

If you are having any concerns or are experiencing symptoms mentioned in this article, you should make an appointment to visit your GP

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