There are downfalls to not catching enough Zs—sexsomnia being one of them. The term might seem foreign, or even impossible, but the rare disorder is not something to ignore. Both sex and sleep are pleasurable, but the combination of the two can be quite serious.
Sexsomnia, or sleep sex, is a type of parasomnia where people engage in sexual behaviors while they're not awake, from orgasms during sleep to masturbation, fondling and even intercourse. It is actually possible to carry out these acts while you're not entirely conscious, much like sleepwalking or sleeptalking.
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"Many people who experience sexsomnia may have their eyes open and act awake, however they won’t actually remember anything," the experts at Mega Pleasure (opens in new tab) say.
Like other sleep disorders, sexsomnia is oftentimes flagged by someone else, which could make the whole in-between stage of sleeping and consciousness even more problematic.
How does sexsomnia start?
"Subtle changes in sexual behavior may be a sign of sexsomnia sleep disorder," the Mega Pleasure team adds. "Others include sweating, heavy breathing, an elevated heart rate and masturbating. If with a partner, initiating foreplay in the middle of the night is another sign to look out for."
There are a variety of reasons for the occurrence. They include but are not limited to: anxiety, fatigue, sleep deprivation, dramatic lifestyle changes and changes in medication, according to Healthline (opens in new tab). The outlet also indicates that underlying issues, including sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome and sleep-related epilepsy, are all factors that can contribute to sleep sex.
How do you deal with sexsomnia?
"To deal with sexsomnia, improving overall sleep hygiene can help," according to the pros at Mega Pleasure. "Following a strict sleep schedule, ensuring a relaxing bedtime ritual, not looking at a screen past 10pm and getting enough sleep can all help improve symptoms."
Should you or a partner, roommate or family member notice these symptoms, they are not something that should be self-diagnosed. Always opt for medical advice in moments of uncertainty. You'll have to seek the assistance of a sleep specialist to determine the underlying issue before making any adjustments to your habits or medications.
"In some cases of sexsomnia, medication such as antidepressants might be prescribed for a person with sexsomnia but this approach should be carefully monitored," the Mega Pleasure team adds.
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The scary side of sexsomnia
Sleepwalking or sleeptalking are certainly serious, but what particularly worries experts about sexsomnia is the fact that it has been used as a rape defense, according to Healthline. This is another reason why it's imperative to have a medical expert assess the situation.
Is sexsomnia common?
Although yes, it is in fact an actual medical issue, Healthline reports that the likelihood of experiencing sexsomnia is not all that great.
However, hearing about these types of conditions should force you to take your sexual health and wellbeing seriously. Always seek help when needed and confide in a partner you can trust.
Danielle is a writer for woman&home and My Imperfect Life, covering all-things news, lifestyle and entertainment.
The heart of her time at Future has been devoted to My Imperfect Life, where she's been attuned to the cosmos, new TV shows and relationship trends.
Before her time at Future, Danielle was the editor of Time Out New York Kids and a news editor at Elite Daily. Her work has also appeared in Domino, Chowhound, amNewYork and Newsday, among other outlets.
When Danielle is not working, you can usually find her reading a book, coffee at hand, or attempting a new recipe. (Recommendations always welcome!)
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