Sleep Sex or Sexsomnia: Causes, Effects and Remedy
Did you know that your body is involved in sexual acts while sleep? Yes you heard it right. It’s called Sexsomnia or Sleep sex.
Sexsomnia was first described in a case in Singapore in the year 1986 and since then scientist have been able to discover interesting fact related to unconscious sexual activities and its effects in our bodies. Our body is associated with different activities which we control but during sleep our brain is super active and our subconscious mind still affects our body. We often feel some happening from our last sleep when we wake up. Sleep consists of four stages which we consider as sleep cycles. Our body and brain goes through these sleep cycles 3-4 times every night.
Briefly we can divide sleep into NREM (Non rapid eye movement) sleep and REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. While most of us forget our dream, some of us get a hint of it but couldn’t recall the whole story. Not only dream, our body also engages in physical activities which may go unnoticed. Sexsomnia is a sleep disorder in which our body engages in sexual activities while sleeping. It is a kind of parasomnia (sleep related disorders).
Parasomnia is referred as abnormal sensation and behavior while during sleep or waking up such as sleep walking or talking. Without a bed partner, your sexsomnia may go unnoticed due to inherent amnesia or in exceptional cases can be caught if a person hurt himself while performing sexual acts.
Sexsomnia is different from sexual dreams. While dreaming our body is at complete rest without any physical activity while in NREM sleep (when we don’t dream) our body keep moving involuntarily and is often involved into sexual activities without our consciousness.
Here are some of the causes of sexsomnia
- Sleep Apnea
- Teeth Grinding
- Past experience of Parasomnias such as sleep walking, sleep talking, sleep terrors etc.
- Sleep deprivation
- Alcohol consumption
- Stress and depression
- Psychotropic medication
- Recreational drug use
- Circadian rhythm disruption
- Periodic limb movement
- Restless leg syndrome
- Fatigue & restlessness
What are the effects of Sexsomnia?
Sexsomnia causes abnormal and unconscious behavior in our body during sleep often mimicking sexual intercourse or masturbation. You may not identify or control the sexual activities during sleep but may be you may be a victim of it. Most sexsomnia occurs between the first three stages of sleep. It can be upsetting for you as well as your partner and can also result in criminal charges. The effects of sexsomnia can be ranged from mild to severe. Some of the effects of sexsomnia are:-
- Heavy breathing
- Foreplay in bed
- Frequent Orgasm
- Fondling, Squeezing or rubbing
- Pelvic thrusting
- Sexual intercourse
- Memory loss of the events
- sexual vocalizations
Sexsomnia are more common in men rather than in female. In most cases the memory of the sexual events are completely gone when you gain consciousness. The abnormal sexual behavior or episodes can often results in physical injuries and sexual assault on your companion.
How to treat sexsomnia?
Most people consider sexsomnia a natural phenomenon and do not seek medical treatment. Some thinks it embarrassing to consult a doctor. Identifying a non-conscious activity is not within our control. If suffering from sexsomnia, you can avoid harming your partner by sleeping in different beds, in different room and by locking the doors. In many cases medication can also come in handy treating sexsomnia. Clonazepam is a medication for treatment of non REM Parasomnias including sexsomnia.
Changing your work schedule and getting a good sleep can often be helpful in recovering from sexsomnia.
Some of the habits which can help your recover from sexsomnia are:-
- Sleep hygiene:- good sleep hygiene can reduce stress, increase efficiency, improve immunity and decrease sexsomnia situation. The scientific reason of explaining why sexsomnia occurs is still cloudy. But a proper sleep routine with 7-9 hours of undisturbed sleep can reduce the quantum of sexsomnia.
- Stress management:- Stress is the devil in form of success. Taking excess stress for your work or your studies can severely impact your health. A good sleep is the caretaker of your brain and body. Stress can keep you awake in a sleep deprived stance. Try a stress free schedule of all you daily activities. Work as per your body permit and avoid taking undue pressure. Science has it that extra stress can trigger sexsomnia.
- Avoidance of alcohol:– “Alcohol is injurious to health” is what we hear from everyone’s mouth. Drinking too much alcohol is harmful for our health in multiple capacities. Alcohol causes insomnia (a sleep disorder) and can wake you up for unwanted hours causing sleep deprivation. Alcohol also effects your REM sleep which and can disrupt your brain and immune system. Alcohol is also a causing factor of sexsomnia. Avoiding drinking alcohol before you get to bed can reduce the frequency of sexsomnia.
- Optimizing sleep environment:- Sleep is a contributing factor for a healthy life. Needless to say, sleep optimization is a contributing factor for deceased sexsomnia. You can optimize your sleep by performing exercise hours before sleep, turning off your phones and other light emitting electronic atleast one hour before going to bed and consuming a leafy dinner full of vitamin D, vitamin B complex, iron and magnesium. After all sexsomnia is sleep disorder.
- Changing workplace:- A change in workplace can help in reduced stress and increase efficiency in work. An experiment among a group of patients revealed that a change in workplace resulted reduced sexsomnia. But it still remains a medical presumption.
- Psychotherapy:- Some sleepsomnia occurs due to psychological issue and can be cured by acute therapy. A psycho therapist can monitor your symptoms of sexsomnia and can advise a checked routine for observance and cure. It’s a sleep disorder, so don’t take it as a personal problem and seek necessary medical help whenever required.
- Medication therapy:- When therapy doesn’t work. It’s finally the time to eye towards medication. Medication could be your last resort if you want to fasten your recovery process. Though medication is not always recommended. But depending upon the problems and gravity of the disease, medication can be your safest option. Your doctor shall advice you the right time to shift towards medicine and when he does, take his checks and follow his advice for fast paced recovery.
Sometimes small problems can help us identify the bigger underlying diseases. To be in a better picture, keep a good sleep habit with proper meals, avoid unnecessary intake of alcohol, don’t drink too much caffeine and try to stay away from garbage junk foods. Ignorance can never be a healthy option so strive for a healthy lifestyle instead.