Study finds that sexsomnia is common in sleep center patients

WESTCHESTER, IL — 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 http://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.

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9 thoughts on “Study finds that sexsomnia is common in sleep center patients”

  1. Thank you for writing this outstanding article about sexsomnia. Sexsomnia aka sleepsex is a parasomnia that causes a person to engage in sexual relations while asleep with no memory of the event. It is a truly frightening condition. Imagine having sex without remembering it or knowing with whom you had intimate relations. Very scary indeed.

    I was diagnosed with severe sexsomnia in 2006. I had a very hard time accepting my condition and sexsomnia completely devastated me. Causing me to question my every move and fear going to sleep at night. Through much research, counseling, and psychotherapy I have learned how to address my sexsomnia in a positive, healthy, and constructive manner.

    Sexsomnia is like cancer. One does not choose sexsomnia anymore than a person chooses cancer. Like a cancer survivor, a sexsomniac can only hope and work towards a state of remission at best. Fortunately, through much discipline and proper implementation of what I have learned, my sexsomnia is largely in such a state.

    I recently launched a site, http://sexsomniacsjourney.com/about/ , dedicated to sexsomniacs, those who love us, and the curious to meet in a safe, respectful, understanding, accepting, friendly and compassionate environment to share our experiences with one another on our path to understanding and healing. I encourage everyone to join us to be part of a close community that strives to be well.

    Again, I greatly appreciate you writing this article. If you or anyone else would like to assist me to increase Sexsomnia Awareness please contact me at [email protected] Thank you.

    If I may be of any assistance please let me know. Thank you.

    Take care and be well.

  2. I am curious to know how many people have heard about Sexsomnia aka Sleep Sex? Please post your replies and share your knowledge or experiences. Thank you.

    I was diagnosed with extreme Sexsomnia in 2006 and have worked hard to improve my condition. I have read all information I can find on Sexsomnia from scholarly case studies to articles, blogs, news reports, etc…

    I did not find a serious site for Sexsomniacs, those who love us, and the curious to commune and discuss Sexsomnia, how best to increase awareness of the condition. Hopefully some very knowledgeable and compassionate Doctors will join to assist us.

    Please visit Sexsomniacs Journey at http://sexsomniacsjourney.com to be welcomed and accepted with open arms. We will get better together and embark on the path to understanding and healing.

    I look forward to seeing you soon. Take care and be well.

  3. I wonder how I can get my wife to catch this? She has no libido at all and we have not had any sex in about 8 years. This would be perfect for both of us. We could have sex while she sleeps and so she would not have to be aware of tor have to deal with that “unpleasantness” while I get my maritals…

  4. This is a huge relief! I happened across this article from Digg completely by accident, but have been enlightened! It appears that something i thought of as an odd thing about my sleeping pattern actually has a medical description. I will be visiting my doctor and asking for help. Thank you so much for the article!

  5. I wonder how many “rapes” are reported that are actually just a female suffering from sexsomnia

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