Sexsomnia might be something you are hearing for the first time and wondering what is Sexsomnia. Also known as Parasomnia, it is a type of sleep disorder. Seems interesting? Well, we will find out all about it in a bit.
Sexsomnia – What is it?
Sleep disorders can be of various types, out of which sleep talking and sleepwalking are more common. Parasomnia is an unusual behavior that involves different activities during sleep. Sexsomnia, specifically, is the behavior wherein a person gets involved in sexual activity while asleep. The sexual activity could include fondling, pelvic thrusts, making noises, orgasms, masturbation, sexual intercourse, and even rape. The person is caught between stages of sleep and is unaware of what is happening.
Sleep sex is a rare sleep disorder, and there are not many studies about its prevalence. It could be the shame related to the disorder or some people actually not realizing the bizarre behavior during sleep. Some studies, however, stated it to be more common in men than women, and most women keep it to masturbation.
Sexsomnia can be embarrassing for the person experiencing it and their partners. It could go unnoticed until someone brings it to your attention. Once one knows of this unusual behavior, one can be overly cautious, and this can affect their mental health.
Symptoms of Sexsomnia
Sexsomnia is not exactly wet dreams and there is more to it. Wet dreams or nocturnal emissions are a characteristic of adolescent boys and could also be sometimes seen in adults. It only involves ejaculation while sleeping and is not a sleep disorder per se. Sexsomnia, on the other hand, occurs when the person is sleeping but acts awake and gets into sexual activity.
The symptoms of Sexsomnia include:
- Initiating foreplay
- Pelvic thrusting
- Sexual intercourse
- Sexual aggression
- Expressionless eyes
- Inability to remember the incident later
If the partner does not tend to recollect the incident last night, it could be a symptom of Parasomnia. The person may seem awake but is asleep and does not know what he/she is doing. They could exhibit different sexual behavior during this phase, which could be recognized by their partners.
Causes of Sexsomnia
Although sleep disorders are rare, and it is difficult to pinpoint the exact cause, there are a few reasonable explanations for the unusual behavior. It is seen that Sexsomnia could happen due to:
- Lack of sleep
- Stressful environment
- Night shift schedule
- Recreational drug use
Some sleep disorders can increase the risk of Sexsomnia including:
- Obstructive sleep apnea
- Sleep-related seizures
- Restless leg syndrome
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease
- Head injuries
Diagnosis of sexsomina
If you or your partner notices the absurd behavior at night and it continues for some time, it is best to see a sleep specialist. If you do not know one, go to your family doctor, who can suggest one. It is a good idea to write your experiences in detail in a journal. You can ask your partner to iterate the incidents and help you maintain a record. It will help your doctor understand your condition and form an opinion.
You might feel hesitant to accept the situation and seek help, but it is in your best interest that you do. A doctor will do a thorough clinical check-up and look into your medical history. They can also ask you to get some tests if required.
Polysomnography is a common tool used to study sleep disorders. It studies the brain waves, heart rate, breathing pattern, and movement of your extremities. It is only done at super specialty centers and the whole test is video recorded. Usually, you would need one night of admission, but in some cases, your doctor may ask to do it for more than a single night. It helps the doctor clarify the doubts and diagnose the exact condition.
Implications of Sexsomnia
Now that you know the symptoms of Sexsomnia, you would realize it is not all rosy here. Some women have claimed that sleep sex is the best sex they have with their partners. It is uninhibited and happens at unusual times and gratifies their specific sexual needs. However, other women have reported that their partners get extremely violent, and they have to run off from the premises.
One could also experience sleep sex at unusual places and not with their partners around. It could be embarrassing and awkward. There are some incidents of sleep sex leading to rapes and, in some cases, Sexsomnia has been used as defensive aid. Therefore, Sexsomnia is more complicated than it seems.
Treatment of Sexsomnia
Sexsomnia may make your life miserable. It could make you doubt all your movements, and you may fear going to sleep. It is an obvious reaction of any human, and the shame and guilt make it even more exhausting. But you should know there is a ray of hope, and the sleep disorder is treatable. You should consult an online sexologist to understand the condition, as it can be overwhelming for anyone to go through something like this.
Treating the underlying sleep disorder is usually the first step towards the treatment of Sexsomnia. Disorders like sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, and narcolepsy are treated by a sleep specialist. Sleep apnea can be managed with the help of a continuous positive airway pressure machine(CPAP) or a mandibular advancement device. If the sleep disorders are caused by seizures, then treating seizures with anticonvulsant therapy might be the solution.
Psychological conditions like depression and anxiety need to be taken care of to control sleep disorders. Suitable medicines for the underlying conditions can be prescribed that would resolve the condition and avoid instances of sleep sex.
Coping with Sexsomnia
After you know what is Sexsomnia, you need to know the best ways to cope with the condition. Consulting a specialist will help you learn the risk factors, causes, and triggers for your particular situation. It is important that you understand those and work on neutralizing your triggers. Sleep sex can make your life hell and could affect your partner.
The whole concept of consent takes a back seat, and the partner may feel used or hate the unwanted sex. It could also lead to other humiliating incidents if someone from your family or roommates sees you initiating sexual relations. Your partner may doubt you for eternity which could break the trust in your relationship when you are not even at fault.
Sexsomnia is real, and the person doing something is asleep and does not remember it the next day. They may get violent and assault their partners in some cases. It is hard for them to keep a check on themselves, and they might not be who they become during the incident.
If you feel you or your partner is exhibiting unusual behavior at night and do not remember the next day, talk to an online sexologist right away. They could help point you in the right direction and provide clarity for what you are going through. If you see your roommate or friend doing something fishy, talk to them and ask them to seek help.
Talking to your partner, friends, and family may be the first step to getting better. Accepting the condition is the right start to getting rid of sleep disorders. It will help you gain some moral support and make you more determined to resolve the problem.
Make your surroundings safe by putting up locks and alarms where you live. Doing this will forcibly wake you if you happen to make any movement at night. Ask your partner to sleep in a separate room for some time until you get better. Identify your triggers and try to avoid those. Drugs and alcohol are the most common triggers, and if you have had an episode of sleep sex, it is better to stay away from these.
Sexsomnia may affect both partners, and therapy might help you cope with the emotions. Psychological counseling helps you understand the situation, and learn ways to deal with open communication.
Maintaining good sleep hygiene may also help you manage the symptoms of Sexsomnia. You can maintain good sleep hygiene by –
- Sticking to a fixed time to go to bed
- Indulge in a physical activity
- Work on your diet and have well-balanced meals
- Avoid alcohol and smoking
- Do not consume caffeine after lunchtime
- Avoid stressful conversations after the evening
- Avoid sleeping during the day
- Practice no screen time one hour before you hit the bed
It would help you manage sleep disorders and Sexsomnia in particular.
Sexsomnia is extremely rare, but for someone with the condition, it might be nothing less than a chore to lead a normal life. Gaining knowledge about the symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment will help you manage the situation. If you notice anything atypical about your partner’s sexual behavior at night, consult an online sexologist to know what it is. Even if you suffer from Sexsomnia, understand that it is treatable and you can live a healthy life again. Take a step forward and get the required attention.