Sex during sleep might sound like a dream come true, but for many couples, it can actually be a nightmare. While some sexy dreams are enjoyable (such as a racy sex dream that leads to a great orgasm), others can be quite upsetting and destructive.
Some people even initiate and engage in sex while asleep — all without even knowing it! This is the sexual sleep disorder known as sexsomnia. Unfortunately, this can be very scary for a partner, especially if he or she is saying no and the sexsomniac continues with the sexual activity. Even if a couple is married (and even if the sexsomniac has no recollection of the incident), it is tantamount to rape since it is nonconsensual.
Part of the problem is that it can be very hard for the violated partner to believe or accept that the sexsomniac is truly asleep. Sleep sex is still a new and relatively mysterious condition and can be a challenge to understand. As such, it is also very hard to treat. What we do know is that healthy sleep hygiene can be a step in the right direction. Going to bed at the same time every night and waking up at the same time every morning can help to create a healthy sleep pattern, as can avoiding alcohol and caffeine before bed. A person with a sex-related sleep disorder might also avoid exercise too close to bedtime and wish to turn off the television or the computer an hour or so before turning in, as this can give the brain time to wind down first.
Additionally, it might be a good idea to examine and reconsider any sleep medications you are taking, since they may be causing these incidents. It could be that part of the reason sleep sex disorders are becoming more prevalent is that there is an increase in the number of people taking powerful prescription sleeping pills. Some people on prescription sleeping pills lose entire hours of their lives during which they perform normal tasks while asleep (such as eating, sleeping, carrying on conversations, and even driving!). It can be quite scary to wake up and realize you prepared a meal while asleep or got behind the wheel of a car — yet it can also be quite confusing for the person’s loved ones because to them the sexsomniac appears to be awake: In many cases, their eyes are open and they act and seem quite lucid.
Hence, it is understandable that sleep sex can be dangerous to a couple’s relationship. It can be doubly traumatic if the violated partner has experienced sexual abuse or assault in the past, as this nighttime attack can suddenly flood his or her mind with all of those unpleasant memories. Suddenly, the person he or she loves and trusts most in the world has become a fearsome, angry character, and even if the unwilling partner realizes that it’s due to a sleep disorder, it can still be very hard to feel calm and in love the next morning over coffee.
Of course, some sleep sex activity can be quite benign and merely amount to no more than just an orgasm or two in dreamland. However, if your behavior becomes out of control or negatively interferes with your life and your relationship, you should visit a doctor who specializes in sleep disorders. Although it is still a new field, you are not alone and there is help available for sexsomniacs and their partners. Visit aasect.com to find a therapist in your area.
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