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What Is Sexsomnia?

What Is Sexsomnia?

Sexsomnia, also know as sleep sex, is exactly what is sounds like: sex acts that a person engages in unconsciously and involuntarily while sleeping. It's considered a variation of sleepwalking and happens outside of REM sleep, which would otherwise partially paralyze the body. Sexsomnia is often associated with shame and embarrassment, whether the sexsomniac, who rarely remembers what happens, initiates sex unconsciously with their partner or a stranger.

Sexsomnia has been used as a defense in sexual assault cases. Earlier this week a 43-year-old British man successfully pleaded sleep sex against a charge that he raped a 16-year-old girl. The jury believed that the man could not remember having sex with the teen, even though he spoke with her and walked downstairs to make put a kettle on the stove afterward. The girl was staying at his home and went to sleep in his room because she was not feeling well and his room was cooler. When she awoke the man was having sex with her. The next morning, he sent her a text message asking if they had sex.

Experts supported his claims by saying he had the symptoms and a history of a sexsomniac, but other sleep forensic experts say the care misrepresents sexsomnia. Skeptics explain that the fact that he went downstairs and engaged in complex tasks make it less likely he was sleeping the whole time.

Regardless of whether it can be invoked as a bogus defense, sexsomnia is treatable with an anti-anxiety drug. Have you ever come across this?

Image Source: Thinkstock
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