GREAT NECK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — For some people, sleep is anything but restful.
Sleep disorders include walking, talking and even eating without realizing it. And now, we can add sex to that list.
As CBS2’s Dave Carlin reported, patients are now being diagnosed with “sexsomnia.” They go through a sleep study where doctors chart and prove they are truly asleep while engaging in sex acts — alone or with others.
The patients have no recollection of it afterwards.
“If your partner is sleeping and they’re not aware of it, that’s not OK,” one woman said.
Sexsomnia is rare, and doctors say more men than women have it.
Dr. Saul Rothenberg is a sleep specialist with Northwell Health. He said sexsomnia falls in the same category of parasomnias as sleepwalking and sleeptalking.
“Normally, you’re either asleep or awake and in parasomnias, including sex, you would have an incomplete awakening,” Rothenberg explained, “so you’re stuck in sleep, but you start doing things that are normally restricted to waking.”
Sexsomnia was used as a defense in two high-profile rape cases overseas, and the juries in those cases bought the argument.
The cases were a man in England in 2007 who was acquitted of raping a girl, and a man in Denmark in 2013 who was acquitted of molesting two girls.
“I never heard of it,” said Joe Watson of Garden City, Long Island. “Sounds pretty shocking to me if that held up in court.”
Rape victim advocates worry more criminals will try to use it as a defense.
Meanwhile, researchers say for those who really have sexsomnia, there is no known cure.
They suggest minimizing or avoiding these potential triggers – stress, sleep deprivation, sleeping pills, and excessive alcohol and drug use.
In some cases, the solution is separate beds and even separate rooms.