The majority of us are familiar with sleep talking, sleepwalking, or maybe bedwetting. But have you ever experienced or heard of sexsomnia? This is what we shall look at in this post.
What Is Sexsomnia?
Like other sleep disorders, sexsomnia is a type of parasomnia resulting from the brain being caught between sleep stages. The in-between sleep stage can result in one acting as if they are awake while they are still asleep.
People affected by sexsomnia display sexual behaviors in their sleep. These behaviors may include musterbation, self-touching, moaning, among other sexual movements.
Unlike sex dreams, sexsomnia sexual can cause the affected party to seek sexual intimacy with other people without knowing.
It can also occur in handy with other parasomnia activities such as sleepwalking or bedwetting.
In many cases, people who have had sexsomnia are the first ones to notice the symptoms. It may be a partner, parent, or roommate. Sexual partners may notice sexual aggression during the night.
The most common symptoms include:
- Spontaneous orgasm
- Heavy breathing
- Seeking sexual intercourse with someone else
- Rubbing and folding
- Pelvic thrusting
- Sexual intercourse
- No memory of sexual activities
- Denying the existence of the activities after regaining consciousness
Other than physical symptoms evident during sexsomnia episodes, this condition can have long-term negative emotional and psychological impacts.
What Causes Sexsomnia?
It’s still a mystery what causes sexsomnia as this condition does not occur to many people, and there are a few reported cases.
Although there are no many cases reported, it can be triggered by:
- History of parasomnias. Many persons dealing with sexsomnia disclosed having other parasomnias. Sleepwalking being the common parasomnia to be reported.
- Sleep disorder. Some individuals experiencing sexsomnia may have also dealt with sleep disorders such as restless legs disorder which can cause automatic behaviors.
- Stress and anxiety
- Sharing a bed with another person regardless of their gender or relationship
- High-stressed jobs like working in a hospital
- High alcohol intake
- Lack of sleep
Some individuals who develop sexsomnia during their adulthood experience other parasomnias, or they did in their childhood.
Some medical risk factors that can lead to sexsomnia such as:
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)
- Restless leg syndrome
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Crohn’s disease
- Head trauma
- Depression and anxiety medications
- Parkinson’s disease
When to Seek Help
Since sexsomnia happens when an individual is in a deep sleep, they cannot recall the activities when they are awake.
Although some behaviors are harmless, such as self-touching, some can be serious and lead you to jail. In fact, sexsomnia has been interpreted as rape or attempted rape, while others use it as a defense in rape cases.
It can also create a huge gap between couples if they are unaware of this kind of parasomnia since it can indicate non-satisfaction in a relationship.
These are enough reasons to seek help before the condition gets out of hand. If any of your loved ones notice anything unusual while you are asleep and talk to you about it, it’s time to see a sleep specialist so that you can get help.
How to Diagnose It
Before visiting a doctor, have someone observe your sexsomnia behaviors and write them down. It’s advisable to have a journal for your sleep pattern so that you can keep records.
Having a record of your sexsomnia episodes can be enough for the doctor to diagnose the condition. If the records are not enough, the doctor may recommend you undergo a sleep duty.
Sleep studies, also known as polysomnography tests, are mainly conducted at specialized facilities. The tests help to record the following while asleep:
- Breathing pattern
- Brain waves
- Heart rate
- Eye and legs movements
A single night in a specialized facility may be enough for your doctor to diagnose the condition. In some cases, the doctor may require you to stay for some days in the facility so that they can have a clear diagnosis.
If you don’t have any sexsomnia during your stay at the facility, the doctor may recommend other tests to rule out other possible causes.
How to Treat and Manage Sexsomnia
The successful way to treat this condition is to have a good sleep regularly. In fact, in most reported cases, its symptoms were reduced or resolved when the affected people had enough sleep.
However, sexsomnia can be treated by using:
A medication designed to treat other health issues has been used to control sexsomnia among the reported cases.
Treating conditions that interfere with sleep patterns, such as sleep apnea, can reduce it’s episodes.
Medication for sexsomnia may include:
- Nasal continuous positive airway therapy (CPAP)
- Antacids and proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs)
- Mild sedative medications
- Anti-anxiety and antidepressant medications
Seeing a psychologist may reduce the feelings of shame and stigma associated with sexsomnia. An individual can also enroll in counseling sessions with other people who have been affected by sexsomnia. This can help in reducing emotional and psychological torture brought by the embarrassing episodes.
In almost every reported sexsomnia case, its treatment included lifestyle change. Regarding that most symptoms negatively affect other parties, the best way to avoid such instances is by having nighttime isolation.
If you think that you may have sexsomnia due to excessive alcohol consumption or any substance abuse, you should stop using or reduce the intake.
If the sleep sex is a result of the side effects of the prescribed medication, discontinue the use and see a doctor to recommend another dosage.
Sexsomnia is rarely reported parasomnia characterized by sexual movements while sleeping followed by total amnesia when conscious. It can hurt the affected person and those around them. Treating underlying conditions has reduced cases of sexsomnia episodes.
In a case of sexual misconduct, it is necessary to undergo a sleep study to evaluate your sleep disorder. Consulting medico-legal experts skilled in testifying in sleep cases may be of much help since the legal defense of sexsomnia is not a walk in the park.