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Sexsomnia - Sleep Sex Disorder Information

  • Synopsis: Published: 2010-06-07 - Sexsomnia or sleep sex often goes undiagnosed because of feelings of shame or embarrassment. For further information pertaining to this article contact: American Academy of Sleep Medicine.
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Study finds that sexsomnia is common in sleep center patients - Men are more likely than women to report sexsomnia, but few patients talk to their doctor about the problem.

Sexsomnia was reported by almost eight percent of patients at a sleep disorders center and was more common in men than women, according to a research abstract that will be presented Monday, June 7, 2010, in San Antonio, Texas, at SLEEP 2010, the 24th annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies LLC.

Results indicate that 7.6 percent of patients (63 of 832) at a sleep disorders center reported that they had initiated or engaged in sexual activity with a bed partner while asleep. The prevalence of reported sexsomnia was nearly three times higher in men (11 percent) than in women (four percent).

"There have been no previous studies of how frequently sexsomnia occurs," said co-investigator Sharon A. Chung, PhD, Sleep Research Laboratory staff scientist in the department of psychiatry at the University Health Network in Toronto, Canada. "While our finding of eight percent of people reporting sexsomnia seems really a high number, it should be stressed that we only studied patients referred to a sleep clinic. So, we would expect the numbers to be much lower in the general population."

The study involved a retrospective chart review of 832 consecutive patients who were evaluated for a suspected sleep disorder; the sample consisted of 428 men and 404 women. Patients completed a questionnaire about sleep disorders symptoms, behaviors during sleep, sleepiness, fatigue and mood.

Symptoms of insomnia, fatigue and depressed mood were similar between people reporting sexsomnia and other patients at the sleep disorders center. Both groups also had similar rates of smoking and caffeine consumption. However, people who reported sexsomnia were twice as likely as other sleep center patients to admit using illicit drugs (15.9 percent vs. 7.7 percent).

Although sexsomnia was common, patients rarely mentioned the problem to their doctor. Chung noted that only four of 832 patients expressed a complaint about sexsomnia during a consultation with a sleep specialist.

"It seems that patients generally don't discuss this with their doctors," she said.

The International Classification of Sleep Disorders, Second Edition, published by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine in 2005, notes that sexsomnia appears to occur predominantly during confusional arousals and may occur during an episode of sleepwalking. These are two of the disorders that are classified as "parasomnias," which involve undesirable behaviors that occur while falling asleep, during sleep or while waking up.

A literature review in the June 2007 issue of the journal Sleep concluded that a broad range of sleep-related disorders are associated with abnormal sexual behaviors and experiences.

The SLEEP 2010 abstract supplement is available for download on the website of the journal Sleep at www.journalsleep.org/ViewAbstractSupplement.aspx.

A joint venture of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society, the annual SLEEP meeting brings together an international body of more than 5,000 leading clinicians and scientists in the fields of sleep medicine and sleep research. At SLEEP 2010 more than 1,100 research abstract presentations will showcase new findings that contribute to the understanding of sleep and the effective diagnosis and treatment of sleep disorders such as insomnia, narcolepsy and sleep apnea.

DW Editor - Further Sexsomnia Information

What is Sexsomnia

Wikipedia defines Sexsomnia as; a form of non-rapid eye movement (NREM) parasomnia (similar to sleepwalking) that causes people to engage in sexual acts such as masturbation, fondling, sexual intercourse and sexual assault or rape while they are asleep.

Those who suffer from sexsomnia have confusional arousals and are more often than not amnesic of the event. People who have a history of doing other sleep activities such as sleepwalking or sleep talking are more likely to exhibit sexsomnia episodes Factors that may increase episodes of sleep sex are alcohol, sleep deprivation or even sleep apnea and other sleep disruptions. In some cases sexualised movements during sleep could be caused by sleep related epilepsy which results in sexual arousal, thrusting and orgasms.

There have been reports of men injuring themselves during sadistic masturbation acts or humping metal or brick walls. Sexsomnia is not only a disorder of males but also affects females. Isolated reports also exist about women who have had sex with strangers during the sleep period.

Sleep sex often goes undiagnosed because of feelings of shame or embarrassment. When it is reported it is usually by a sleep partner of someone who has sexsomnia. Then to verify the diagnosis, polysomnography is done during a night in a sleep lab, which confirms whether the patient is truly asleep while performing these sexual acts. Clonazepam has been used as a first line of treatment for this condition.





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