Sleep Sex: Casting Light On An Unspoken Problem

Sleep sex, or sexsomnia, is a common problem but one that remains something of a mystery. This is because most people are hesitant to discuss the issue, even when they suspect they or their partner might be suffering from it. In most cases, displaying sexual behavior while asleep is embarrassing and difficult to admit or even understand. Most of us cannot fathom anyone being unable to control these particular impulses, but that is exactly what happens with sexsomnia.

As with other types of parasomnias, or sleep related behaviors, sexsomnia is actually a medical condition. It is the result of a disturbance in brain wave patterns during sleep, particularly REM, though it can also happen during other levels of sleep. Parasomnia can take many forms, including talking during sleep, sleepwalking, uncontrollable movements, sleep paralysis, and bedwetting.

Perhaps the most disturbing form of parasomnia is sleep sex. This condition can affect both men and women and can present in many ways, including vocalization, masturbation, attempted sexual intercourse and even, in some cases, violent sexual behavior. Naturally, this can be quite disturbing for the partner of the sufferer, especially when the sufferer has no memory of their behavior when confronted.

For this reason, sexsomnia is not often discussed. In most cases, the sufferer or their partner are too embarrassed to talk about it with a doctor or other qualified counselor. It can cause a great deal of tension in a relationship, as trust issues necessarily develop. Since sufferers are usually unaware of their behavior, they can become upset or even belligerent when confronted by a partner about it. If you suspect that you or your partner are, in fact, suffering from sexsomnia you should always take it seriously and consult a doctor.

Blurred image of woman laying on mattress
Blurred image of woman laying on mattress

In most cases, sleep sex can actually be treated, just as most other sleep disorders are. The most important step is to work with your doctor and determine exactly what is causing your problem. Once you have a proper diagnosis of the cause, you and your doctor should be able to formulate a treatment plan to help ease symptoms. Everything from brain wave therapy to controlling your sleep environment to using sleeping pills or other medications can be applied depending on your individual needs.

Generally speaking, there are steps you can take to improve your sleep process and hopefully these will allow you to get restful sleep and avoid disturbing sleep behaviors. Keeping to a set bed time, keeping your sleep environment dark and soothing, avoiding excess caffeine, particularly right before going to bed, limiting food and drink before you go to sleep and avoiding napping during the day can all help to improve your sleep pattern.

There are also therapies which use acoustic waves in order to ‘retrain’ the brain. This has been proven to have a positive effect on individuals with sleep related disorders, including sleep sex. The most important thing to remember is that this should not be a cause of shame or embarrassment. It is an actual medical condition and should be treated as such. By doing so, you can give yourself and your partner peace of mind, not to mention getting a better night’s sleep.

Sexsomnia has been a taboo subject but as incidences of this behavior begin to increase, it is slowly being brought out of the dark. This is good news for those who suffer from this problem and their partners. There is no reason why you should continue to suffer in silence and shame. Take control of your sleep and you’ll see an improvement in your whole life.

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