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Facts about sexsomnia: Sexual intercourse during sleep

Believe it or not, there's a medical condition where people actually indulge in sexual activities during sleep. Termed as sexsomnia or sleep sex it is involuntary, just like sleepwalking. Categorised under a broad class of sleep disorders known as parasomnias, which include sleepwalking, sleep apnea, night terrors and bedwetting.

Interesting facts about sexsomina: Sexual intercourse during sleep
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A recent survey conducted in Britain by a leading bed supplier revealed that one in 10 Britons unwittingly indulged in sleep sex after studying the the sleeping habits of 13,000 adults across Britain.

Some mental health experts are of the opinion that, when women experience sleep sex, they typically exhibit "sexual vocalisations" and masturbation. Men, on the other hand, would engage in fondling and intercourse.

People who suffer from "sexomnia" also show other kinds of sleep disorders such as sleep apnea and sleep deprivation. One cause of "sexomnia" is a sleep-related epilepsy that can cause a person to experience sexual arousal, pelvic thrusting and orgasms.

What causes sleep sex
Sexsomnia episodes may be triggered by physical contact with a bed partner. It is considered a type of non-rapid eye movement sleep (NREM) parasomnia. Medical experts believe it can also be caused by stress, previous sleep deprivation and excessive consumption of alcohol or other drugs. Sexsomniacs do not remember the acts that they perform while they are asleep. A fairly new medically recognized behaviour, Sexsomnia has been used in criminal defense cases of rape.

Sexsomnia in popular culture
In popular culture, characters having sexsomnia have been depicted in international TV shows like 'House', where a woman being treated by the titular character Dr. House claimed to have no history of sexual activity. In Ralph Ellison's novel Invisible Man, a farmer claims to have had sex with his daughter while asleep and in the play Yakish and Popcha, by Hanoch Levin, Yakish manages to have sexual intercourse with his wife Popcha only while both are asleep, by the end of the play.

When a rapist used sleep sex as an excuse
In 2011, a soldier walked away scot-free in a case of allegedly rape perpatrated by him on a woman he was in relationship with in Scotland. During trial, he claimed to have done the act in his sleep, which was verified by a health expert, who was an authority on sexsomnia and was let off. The man was later arrested for another rape in England a few years later and convicted.

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