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What is Sexsomnia, and Is There Help?


A man goes to sleep wondering,"What is sexsomnia?"

Over fifty million Americans suffer from some sort of sleep disorder. But, some disorders are more common than others. Have you ever woken up to find yourself having sex? Well, you might be suffering from sexsomnia. Read on to find out, what is sexsomnia and what you can do to treat this problem.


What Is Sexsomnia?


Sexsomnia is a medical condition where you exhibit sexual behaviors as you sleep. Sexsomnia doesn’t occur in the entirety of the deep sleep cycle. It only occurs during non-rapid eye movement periods.


During sexsomnia episodes, you may masturbate, initiate sex with your partner, or exhibit other sexual behaviors. Sleepwalking can also be one of the symptoms of sexsomnia, as can sleep talking.


People with sexsomnia, often have no recollection of the episodes after the fact. This can make it very scary for them and their partners, roommates or family.


What Causes Sexsomnia?


Some of the causes or risk factors for sexsomnia include obstructive sleep apnea, epilepsy, and other seizure disorders, suffering from chronic insomnia, chronic sexual disorders, and reliance on drugs or alcohol. People who struggle with other sleep disorders are more likely to suffer from sexsomnia as well.


Sexsomnia tends to be more common in men than women. It often tends to be diagnosed in teenage boys.


There are also some behaviors that can trigger sexsomnia episodes. These include anxiety, depression, working hours that don’t correspond to a regular sleep schedule, sleep deprivation, having trouble with your sleep hygiene, and being intoxicated with alcohol or drugs.


Traveling and changing time zones can trigger individual episodes of sexsomnia. The same is true if you’re struggling with stress based on work or personal matters.


Neurological disorders like Parkinson’s disease can make someone more likely to suffer from sexsomnia, as can a head injury. Some gastrointestinal diseases can be associated with a diagnosis of sexsomnia. These can include Crohn’s disease, gastroesophageal reflux disease, ulcerative colitis, and irritable bowel syndrome.


How Do You Treat Sexsomnia?


If you believe you’re experiencing sexsomnia, there are treatment options for you. First, if you think you’re suffering from this condition, it is imperative to talk about it with your bed partner.


Informed and enthusiastic consent is very important in any sexual situation, and even accidental situations can cause a great deal of sexual trauma. Transparent conversation with your partner about what both of you need, and your boundaries, can help you stay aligned.


That way, you can minimize the risk of stress or any other issues as a result of your sexsomnia. Sexual assault is never okay and can occur unintentionally, when a partner experiences this condition. Making a plan ahead of time can minimize the risk. You and your partner can also talk to a couples’ therapist to help support your relationship while you work to overcome it.


There are measures you can take to prevent any issues. You can sleep in separate bedrooms or separate beds if you’re afraid of an episode occurring. You can lock doors, and you can set alarms if you’re suffering from a form of sexsomnia that involves sleepwalking.


Next, it’s time to look for what needs to be done to address your sexsomnia. Cases can be tricky to diagnose.


You should start by speaking with a medical and mental health professional, trained in this area of specialty, so they can begin the process of diagnosing sexsomnia. Doctors and sleep specialists can both be helpful for advice, diagnosis, or treatment.


Your doctor may recommend a sleep study to see if you’re suffering from sexsomnia and to help with medical advice diagnosis. During a sleep study, medical professionals will measure your heart rate, your leg and eye movements, your brain activity, and your respiration rate.


You may have to do multiple studies if an episode doesn’t occur the first time.


A lot of times, sexsomnia can be treated by relieving the underlying issue. For example, if your sexsomnia is caused by obstructive sleep apnea, continuous positive airway pressure with a CPAP machine or other devices can help. Or, if you struggle with depression, taking antidepressants and choosing to go to therapy can help at least reduce the frequency of your sexsomnia episodes.


Improving your sleep hygiene overall can also be beneficial for reducing the occurrence of your sexsomnia. Stick to a regular sleep schedule whenever you can, and improve the environment that you sleep in to help you sleep better.


There are also medications you can try to help you manage your sexsomnia. However, medications have side effects and could interact with something you’re already taking.


So, it’s important for people with a case of sexsomnia to discuss their options thoroughly with your doctor and therapist so they can help you decide what’s right for your health. Also, it is important to make sure you’re taking any medications at the right times and for the right purposes only.


If it is caused or exacerbated by substance use, reducing your intake of alcohol and drugs or cutting them out entirely can help. People struggling with substance abuse have options available for help. Consider getting into specialized therapy for substance misuse or dependence that directly targets your relationship with substances. You can also look into higher levels of care, including inpatient or outpatient rehab.


If you’re having trouble, or if you don’t have the right medical coverage, you can look for online resources to help you manage your sexsomnia. Just make sure that the advice you take is properly medically reviewed.


Get Help Today


Now that you have the answers to what is sexsomnia, you can do something if you’re suffering from this issue. You just need to have the right medical professionals on the case.


Are you trying to improve your mental health? Schedule a consultation today to see if individual therapy is right for you.

Modern Intimacy is a group therapy practice, founded by renowned Psychologist and Sex Therapist, Dr. Kate Balestrieri. This inclusive blog is designed to provide a wealth of information and resources for mental health, relationships, and sexuality. Subscribe today to get the latest information from our expert contributors from all around the world.


Author Bio

Dr. Kate Balestrieri is a Licensed Psychologist (CA, FL, IL + NY), Certified Sex Therapist, Certified Sex Addiction Therapist, and PACT III trained Couples Therapist. She is the Founder of Modern Intimacy. Follow her on TikTok and IG @drkatebalestrieri and the Modern Intimacy team on IG @themodernintimacy.



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1 Comment

  1. Russell Freed

    Wife has sexomnia but doesn’t believe she does. Turning into unhealthy behavior.


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