If you caught the last episode of Law & Order: SVU, you were introduced to a parasomnia disorder called sexsomnia, or ‘sleep sex’, which involves engagement in sexual acts while the sufferer is asleep. He or she typically has no memory of the sex act upon waking, and may act out aggressive sexual fantasies during the encounter.
The SVU episode prompted me to research sexsomnia in depth, mostly because I’d never heard of it before and wanted to find out how frequently this actually occurs. According to Sleepsex.org, sexsomnia is not considered an individual sleep disorder by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine; however, it can be diagnosed under the confusional arousals disorder.
Essentially, sexsomnia is evidenced by the desire or need for an individual to have sex while he or she is sleeping. The target is usually the sufferers wife/husband or boyfriend/girlfriend as long as they sleep in the same bed, but some sexsomnia victims have been known to walk short distances in order to find the nearest partner.
The target is not always a romantic interest of the sufferer, which has led to four charges of rape in America since the year 2000 (sleepsex.org).
Unfortunately, sexsomnia can cause serious damage to a relationship, even between husband and wife. Some significant others claim that they enjoy sexual intercourse while their partner is asleep, while others find it to be a gross intrusion of both privacy and free will.
It can be difficult to deter someone with sexsomnia in the middle of the night, which is why many couples choose to sleep in separate rooms—sometimes behind locked doors.
Furthermore, sexsomnia can be linked to other rapid-eye movement sleep disorders, such as sleepwalking. A victim of parasomnia disorders can seriously injure himself in the middle of the night while trying to find a partner with which to couple.
If you suffer from sexsomnia, you have a few options that might induce recovery. For example, sleep centers specializing in parasomnia disorders can help identify the causes of sexsomnia and take measures toward producing better quality sleep.
A mixture of psychotherapy, prescription medicine and homeopathic remedies can relieve sufferers of sexsomnia on an individual basis. However, there is no cure for this disorder, so regular treatment is required to maintain symptom-free sleep.
If your partner suffers from sexsomnia, the experts at the Sleep Center of Houston recommend waking him or her as soon as sex is initiated. When the patient wakes up, he or she can easily quell the desire, though it might be difficult to fall back asleep.
All measures must be taken to ensure the safety of those living in a house with a sufferer of sexsomnia. As the cases of rape charges illustrate, victims of sexsomnia are not capable of discerning their intended partners, which means anyone can be at risk. As soon as the disorder is identified, talk to your doctor about the appropriate safety precautions.