S L E E P M A S T U R B A T I O N - S E X S O M N I A
Sleep sex

[Possible treatment]

Sleepsex is Sexual Behavior during Sleep. Also known as SBS. In 1996 sleepsex was first identified as a newly observed type of parasomnia. Dr. Michael Mangan estimates that about 1% of the population may suffer from sleep sex or have seen it first hand. It’s much more common than people think.

Researchers at Stanford University Medical Center believe this condition stems from glitches in brain waves during sleep. Although most cases sound psychological, researchers at Stanford believe the biggest problem relates to the sleep process. Some sleepsexers have additional emotional problems, that may alter the form their sleep disturbance takes.It’s not likely, but possible, that sleepsexers act upon suppressed behaviors/problems by their conscious minds.
But even if sleepsexers have no psychological or emotional issues, the sleep disorder can still exist. So sleep sex can also be caused by a combination of physical and psychological issues.
By getting attention for this disorder, researchers hope the healthcare community will recognize the disorder as medical in origin rather than psychological.

Sexual arousal is very common during sleep. It’s know that in REM-sleep males get erections and females an engorged clitoris and vaginal lubrication.
Most of the times people, who engage in sleepsex, have a history of other sleep disorders such as REM behavior disorders, apnea, bed-wetting, teeth grinding, sleepwalking, to name a few. All this suggests neurochemical disorders in the brain or abnormal brain activity. It can also run in the family. It's recommended to ask other family members if they have some kind of sleep disorder.
It’s know that some sleepsexers may not experience muscle paralysis, that is supposed to come during REM sleep, which can lead to forceful behavior they would otherwise be too weak to initiate.
Sometimes people may be experiencing, and acting upon, dreams or non-REM imaginations similar to dreams. An episode most likely occurs within the first 2 hours of sleep, though they may occur towards the end of the night too.

Like sleepwalking, sleepsex is an arousal disorder, referring not to sexual stimulation but to a breakdown in the barrier that divides consciousness from unconsciousness. It's due to an abnormal arousal mechanism. Arousal disorders can be automatic or it occurs when a person is ‘cycling up’ toward awareness from the deeper stages of non-REM sleep. During this sleep phase, a person is partially asleep and partially awake. It means that persons are able to engage in complex behaviors. Low-level brain mechanisms, like those critical to walking, eating, sexual intercourse or masturbation, are activated. While higher functions, like those critical for judgment and memory, are disabled.
This may lead an observer to conclude, that the person engaging sleepsex, must be fully conscious. While, in actuality, the sleepsexer may not be aware or conscious in the same sense as when they are awake. Often they will be unable to recall fully, or even partially, what happened during the episode. Sleep sex is a dissociative state. Similar to multiple personalities. Asleep the sleepsexer is essentially a different person or may act very out of character with their waking personalities.

Arousal disorders, may be triggered by forced, or involuntary, arousal from sleep. Factors that may precipitate sleepsex episodes or trigger an event, that have been named in clinical case studies are:

Psycho- and or physiological stress

Also reported, but not clinical proven:

Nighttime movement or bodily contact with bed-partner during sleep
Low sexual interest
Infrequent sexual activity
Dreaming/dreamlike sexual imagery
Sexual arousal prior to sleep
Length of time between sex

Sometimes it's hard for people to believe that sleepsex could occur. If a sleepsexer tells others about his/her experience, some will truly believe him/her and the rest will not. This also comes because it's not a widely know behavior and relatively obscure.
Not a lot of research is being done. It's difficult to study sleepsex under controlled and scientific conditions because it's hard to find sleepsexers who are willing to be studied. This because of the embarrassment of the person/persons.
Out of the research that has been done, researchers found a good medical treatment that has proven a remarkable clinical improvement in the disruptive episodes of sexual behavior during sleep, named: clonazepam.

It’s hard to say why people engage in sleepsex. It comes in all shapes and forms and are very individual. There are negative and positive experiences. Examples of both:

Negative: shame and disgust with masturbation - fear and guilt with aggression - disappointment and frustration with sexual abandonment - etc.

Positive: better sex - a turn-on - builds trust and growing together - passion - etc.

Sleepsex can cut across some or all of the experiences. It's hard to class it. Sadly, most experiences with sleepsex are negative. Fear and anxiety over one's own, or a partners' sleepsex is the main reason. If it is a positive or negative experience depends on: "What exactly happens during an episode, how it's viewed and reacted to, by those involved and on the personality and personal history of the persons involved". There are multiple perspectives from which sleepsex might be viewed. Two sides to every story. So communication is very important. Talk about it openly and frankly. Try not to blame one another, but keep an open mind.

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