Feeds

What is sexsomnia?

Amorous while asleep?

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Also in this week's column:

What is sexsomnia?

Falling asleep after sex is common, but falling, sleeping and staying asleep during sex is another matter. The condition is called sexsomnia.

Sexsomnia occurs when a person is asleep and yet proceeds to initiate sexual activity with their bedmate. Sexsomnia is also known as "somnambulistic sexual behaviour".

The first use of "sexsomnia" for this condition was by Dr C M Shapiro and two colleagues from the Sleep Alertness Clinic of the University of Toronto and the Toronto Western Hospital in a June 2003 article in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry. Sexsomnia is described as a mix of sleepwalking and adolescent wet dreams.

According to the researchers, amazingly, not all partners of sexsomniacs are distressed or irritated by the novel experience of having an unconscious person make love to them. In fact, some seem to prefer it. The researchers describe sexsomnia as a "distinct variation" of sleepwalking.

The researchers discovered it by interviewing patients referred to their sleep clinic for normal sleep-related problems. According to the Shapiro team, "[o]nly subsequently did the issue of sexual behaviour during sleep emerge", although they noted prior cases of indecent exposure during sleep.

They add: "We anticipate that the number of potential cases is large but sexual behavioUr in sleep is not yet recognised by physicians as a behaviour of note or a problem."

There were 11 case studies, mostly male. One married man, aged 35, had sexual dreams and "enacts these by having intercourse with his wife, who is convinced he is asleep...[he] is only aware of his behaviour from his wife's reports".

Two girlfriends of another man, aged 43, "independently confirmed that he frequently engages in sexual behaviour while asleep". One describes him as a "different person" during these activities - apparently he is a more amorous and gentle lover and more orientated towards satisfying his partner.

By contrast, another man, aged 37, according to his wife is "more aggressive and more amorous. He indulges in behaviours while asleep that he does not undertake when awake...there is no stopping him. But when he once grabbed her neck, she had to slap him."

In the May 2006 Journal of Clinical Forensic Medicine, Dr I O Ebrahim of the London Sleep Centre describes a recent sexsomnia case in England "where the defendant was acquitted on three charges of rape on the basis of automatism due to somnambulistic sexual behaviour".

Stephen Juan, Ph.D. is an anthropologist at the University of Sydney. Email your Odd Body questions to s.juan@edfac.usyd.edu.au

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
MARS NEEDS WOMEN, claims NASA pseudo 'naut: They eat less
'Some might find this idea offensive' boffin admits
SECRET U.S. 'SPACE WARPLANE' set to return from SPY MISSION
Robot minishuttle X-37B returns after almost 2 years in orbit
LOHAN crash lands on CNN
Overflies Die Welt en route to lively US news vid
You can crunch it all you like, but the answer is NOT always in the data
Hear that, 'data journalists'? Our analytics prof holds forth
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
No sail: NASA spikes Sunjammer
'Solar sail' demonstrator project binned
America's super-secret X-37B plane returns to Earth after nearly TWO YEARS aloft
674 days in space for US Air Force's mystery orbital vehicle
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
Origins of SEXUAL INTERCOURSE fished out of SCOTTISH LAKE
Fossil find proves it first happened 385 million years ago
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.