Oct 14, 2010

What is Sexsomnia. Is it Real...?

aSleep sex or sexsomnia is a form of non-rapid eye movement (NREM) parasomnia (similar to sleepwalking) that causes people to engage in sexual acts such as masturbation, fondling, sexual intercourse and sexual assault or rape while they are asleep. The proposed medical diagnosis is NREM Arousal Parasomnia - Sexual Behavior in Sleep, and is considered to be a distinct variant of sleepwalking .There are often unpleasant consequences associated with sleep sex and it has been used as a criminal defense in rape cases. Other negative effects include feelings of shame and embarrassment and also can cause relationship issue and stress.
Sex, Sleep or Scrabble?: Seriously Funny Answers to Life's Quirkiest Queries             Those who suffer from sexsomnia have confusional arousals and rarely remember the event. People who have a history of doing other sleep activities such as sleepwalking or sleep talking are more likely to exhibit sexsomnia episodes. Factors that may increase episodes of sleep sex are alcohol, sleep deprivation or even sleep apnea and other sleep disruptions.
 Sexsomnia episodes could be triggered by the contact with bed partner.In some cases sexualised movements during sleep could be caused by sleep related epilepsy which results in sexual arousal, thrusting and orgasms.
Simple sexualised movements could be also associated with REM sleep disorders.    
If rape has been committed, it can be psychologically and physically devastating to the individual.
There have been reports of men injuring themselves during sadistic masturbation acts or humping metal or brick walls. Sexsomnia is a disorder that affects males and females. Isolated reports exist about women who have had sex with strangers during the sleep period; in cases where memory of the sexual act is not retained, the detection of used condoms and semen stains on the bed the morning after the sexual incident are signs of the afflictioon.

Cases reported in the press

  1. Natalie Pona, the then Sun reporter, broke the story of the first case of sexsomnia in the fall of 2005. On 30 November 2005, a Toronto court acquitted a man of sexual assault after he was diagnosed with sleep sex disorder, although prosecutors filed an appeal of the acquittal in February 2006. The Ontario Court of Appeal upheld the acquittal on 7 February 2008.
  2. In Britain, a man from York was cleared of three counts of rape on 19 December 2005.
  3. In Australia, a woman was reported as leaving her house at night and having sex with strangers while sleepwalking.
  4. On 8 August 2007, a British RAF mechanic was cleared of a rape charge after the jury found him not responsible for his actions when he had sex with a 15-year-old girl.
  5. On 23 March 2009, a British woman gave an interview in which she spoke about problems in her life caused by sexsomnia.
  6. On 12 February 2010, an Australian man was found not guilty of rape due to sexsomnia.
What appear to be the criteria or characteristics of a sexsomniac? :
  • Most people who exhibit this behavior are known sleepwalkers – either in childhood or more recently in their lives.
  • The sexual behavior of the individual during episodes of sexsomnia is different than their usual behavior, sometimes more aggressive than usual.
  • The behavior is always amplified by situations where sleep quality or quantity is worsened:
  • o Alcohol ingestion o Sleep Apnea o Sleep deprivation
  • Many of the patients were men.
  • Several patients report that they were dreaming about having sex, or having some type of sexual fantasy.
  • Some of the individuals who reported these behaviors were actually physically sexually aroused, but not all were.
  • This behavior seems to occur in deep non-REM sleep at anytime throughout the night.
  • The behavior can last up to 30 min.
  • The behavior is found almost exclusively in adults.
Sexsomnia appears to be a situation that warrants further study. If you are experiencing these behaviors you should tell your doctor or sleep specialist immediately as there have been reported cases of deviant sexual behavior leading to, in some cases, abusive situations.
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