Nearly 1 in 10 British People Have Sleep Sex, New Study Shows, And Here's Everything You Need To Know About Sexomnia

People can do weird things in their sleep without even knowing it. Pretty much everyone is familiar with the term, “sleepwalking.” When someone is in a deep sleep and suddenly they get up and start walking around everywhere, that’s sleepwalking. When someone is in a deep sleep and suddenly starts talking, that’s sleep talking. Apparently, walking and talking aren’t the only things that that can happen to you when you’re in deep sleep. In fact, there’s a condition called, “sexomnia” that can occur where a sleeping person acts out sexually during sleep. According to a new study, one in 10 Brits have sleep sex.

In a study done by Bensons for Beds, the UK’s leading bed supplier, and Dr. Guy Meadows of The Sleep School, they looked at the sleeping habits of 13,000 adults across the UK to find out everything from sleep-eating to sleep paralysis.

“One of the most interesting aspects identified by the research was that one in 10 people questioned are experiencing the phenomenon of ‘sexomnia’ during their sleep — a condition where people engage in sexual activity during sleep,” Dr. Meadows said.

Other results of the study found that one in 10 people have been to the toilet while they were sleep. One in seven admit to experiencing sleep paralysis, and one in 10 have even stopped breathing. The study even found that while sleepwalking, 16 percent of people have eaten light snacks.

“Many people lead such hectic and busy lifestyles nowadays that it can be hard to really switch off before bed and, as this research reveals, sleep can often be disrupted by restlessness,” Meadows said. “Additionally, eating and drinking certain foods and drinks, such as alcohol, before going to sleep can act as a stimulant and prevent you from achieving a deep sleep.”

While it’s kind of bizarre to think about, sexomnia or sleep sex is actually a thing. Here are 6 facts you need to know about this very real sleep disorder.

1. It’s A Type Of Parasomnia

Giphy

According to WebMd, like sleepwalking and sleep talking, the brain is caught in transition between sleeping and waking states. The person does things in their sleep without knowing that they’re doing it. So, while a person experiencing sleep sex may seem fully awake and aware while they’re masturbating or initiating sex with their partner, they might actually be asleep.

2. ‘Sexomnia’ Has Been Successfully Used in Court As A Defense In Rape And Molestation Cases

Giphy

Unfortunately, that has happened. Back in 2014, Mikael Halvarsson of Sundsvall, Sweden shared a bed with a female friend when he began sexually assaulting her. Naturally, the woman called the police, and when officers came by, they found Halvarsson still asleep in the victim’s bed. He claimed that he didn’t mean to do it, and blamed it all on his sleep disorder. Sure enough, he was acquitted of rape charges after doctors confirmed that he did suffer from sexomnia and the assault was unintentional.

3. It’s Not Very Common

Giphy

If this is the first time you’ve ever heard about such a phenomenon, you wouldn’t be alone. According to WebMD , a study done at the Toronto Western Hospital in Canada found that out of 832 patients surveyed at a sleep disorder center, 8 percent of them reported to engaging in sexual activity while they were sleep. Men even reported to experiencing it three times more often than women.

4. Men And Women May Experience Sexomnia Differently

Giphy

According to Psychology Today, when women experience sleep sex, they typically exhibit “sexual vocalizations” and masturbation. Men, on the other hand, would engage in fondling and intercourse. Some examples of sexomnia occurring include a woman in her 20s who would suddenly take her clothes off and masturbate during the first half of the night while she was sleep. If her husband interrupted her, she would repeat the act again later on in the night. When she woke up, she would refuse sex and deny that she ever acted out sexually. In another case, a man would constantly perform cunnilingus on his wife while they were both asleep. Women would describe their sexomnia-experiencing partners as being “glassy-eyed” and vacant.

5. Sleep Sex Is Also Linked To Other Sleep Disorders

Giphy

According to the same Psychology Today article, people who suffer from sexomnia also suffer from 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.

6. It Can Be Treated

Giphy

According to Dr. Michel Cramer-Bornemann of the Minnesota Regional Sleep Disorders Center in Minneapolis, people suffering from the disorder must avoid triggers such as drug and alcohol use. They must also treat underlying sleep apnea issues, such as quit smoking and lose weight, and also keep cautious of sleep medications which may actually, “activate parasomnias.”

Want more of Bustle's Sex and Relationships coverage? Check out our new podcast, I Want It That Way, which delves into the difficult and downright dirty parts of a relationship, and find more on our Soundcloud page.

Images: Seniju/Flickr; Giphy(7)