It is fairly common to find partners fall asleep immediately after sex, however, falling asleep while having sex is a relatively newer revelation that the medical experts are trying to make sense of. Majorly unheard of and with very few cases reported worldwide, sexsomnia is a condition that makes sex while asleep an undeniable possibility.
What is Sexsomina?
Sexsomnia is a type of parasomnia which is characterized by an uncontrolled engagement in sexual activity by a person whose brain is caught in between the sleep stages. This in between or the non-REM stage of sleep is when those affected act like they are awake, even though they are actually asleep and have no control over their actions.
According to a research, the incidence of sexsomnia occurring in men was reported to be roughly three times higher than that in women. While women suffering from this condition generally exhibit instances of masturbation and make sexual noise, men on the other hand are observed to induce behaviors that mimic sexual intercourse with their sex partners.
Unlike people suffering from other parasomnia that are known to be triggered during the REM stage of sleep such as sleep paralysis and hypnagogic hallucinations, those with sexsomnia usually have no recollection whatsoever of their actions once they wake up. This is the reason why most people suffering from sexsomnia do not even realize that they have this disorder unless it is noted by their partner, friend or roommate.
What Causes Someone to Fall Asleep During Sex?
Since this type of parasomnia has only been recently identified, the exact causes of sleeping during sex are yet unknown. The underlying trigger for sexsomnia however is identified as the irregularity of sleeping patterns, whether it is caused by stress, anxiety, fatigue, alcohol and substance abuse or due to certain medications that cause sleep deprivation.
Scientists have drawn a few parallels between the increased incidents of sexsomnia in people who have a history of having any other parasomnia such as sleep apnea. On the other hand, some other medical conditions such as the gastrointestinal reflux disease (GERD), migraines and certain head injuries are also responsible for causing sexsomniacs to fall asleep during sex.
How to Stop Sexsomnia?
Putting a 100% stop to falling asleep isn’t entirely possible as yet, however certain medications and lifestyle changes can help the patients manage their condition and reduce the number of instances when their sexsomnia is triggered. The first step to treating sexsomnia is therefore an accurate diagnosis which is then followed by help from medical experts.
Before sexsomniacs can be administered certain medications, the patient’s sleep cycle is observed overnight in a sleep clinic by the doctors. It is also noted whether or not the patient suffers from other types of parasomnia or sleep disorders such as the sleep apnea or restless leg syndrome.
Patients of sexsomnia with a history of sleeping disorders undergo treatment for the underlying condition as part of therapy for sexsomnia. For instance, restless leg syndrome is treated through certain muscle relaxants and medications while sleep apnea is dealt with a CPAP machine.
Patients suffering from mental disorders such as stress and anxiety are given the appropriate antidepressants and stress managing medications to prevent inducing sex while asleep.
Similarly, there have been instances when sexsomnia was triggered because of a change in prescription, primarily in the sleep medication. In such a case, switching the medicine can prove to be helpful for sexsomniacs.
While medications can prevent sexsomniacs from experiencing sleeping intercourse mostly, however, in order to deal effectively with the disorder, patients need to make some very important changes to their lifestyle.
Since episodes of sleeping during sex are primarily caused by sleep disorders, sexsomniacs need to maintain a strict sleep wake cycle, with an aim to sleep at the same time everyday for 7-8 hours and wake up at a constant time daily.
Moreover, alcohol or substance abuse needs to be dealt with effectively, depending on how dependent the patients are on it. Alcohol intake is known to disrupt sleeping patterns and therefore the amount of intake should be strictly monitored and reserved mostly for special occasions only.
A healthy and non toxic sleeping habit can also limit the sexsomnia episodes. This usually includes shunning the use of electronic gadgets such as smartphones, televisions and laptops as well as maintaining healthy eating habits before bedtime that helps patients in sleeping better.
Most patients with sexsomnia feel ashamed of admitting their condition or seeking relevant help due to the taboos attached. However, in order to deal with the problem, patients need to accept it and learn to manage it. The first step in doing so is to learn as much as they can about this frustrating disorder, its causes, symptoms as well as the coping mechanisms.
Since sexsomniacs usually find themselves falling asleep while having sex especially during stressful situations, they should therefore seek appropriate help for psychological management. Practicing yoga and cognitive behavior therapies are known to be effective stress management solutions.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it possible to have sex while sleeping?
It is possible for people with sexsomnia to often indulge in somnambulistic sexual behavior. However, since their sleep sex takes place during the non-REM stage of their sleeping cycle, sexsomniacs do not have any memory of the events that surpassed, once they wake up.
Why do people fall asleep after sex?
Sexual intercourse is generally an exhausting task for both men and women and therefore people generally tend to fall asleep more soundly after indulging in it, in order to replenish their energies. There is however more biological studies that suggest the release of certain hormones such as prolactin and oxytocin which act as the primary sleep inducing agents after sex.
Moreover, evidence suggests that in order to reach orgasm, one needs to let go of fear, stress and anxiety, which naturally tends to relax the couple and hence help them sleep better.
Is sexsomnia a real condition?
Discovered and officially reported in around 1986, sexsomnia is indeed a real condition that causes sexsomniacs to have sex while sleeping. With only a few documented cases worldwide, the condition is relatively less known and warrants an in depth study as to its causes, symptoms and treatment options.
How common is sexsomnia?
According to a research, sexsomnia is fairly uncommon with as few as 94 cases reported worldwide in a study conducted in 2015. It is however suggested that the ratio of affected men who fell asleep while having sex is almost three times higher as compared to women. Moreover, this condition is found almost exclusively in adults.