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Sexonambulism: is it possible to have sex while sleeping?

Disorder leads people to have sexual practices while sleeping

Some people can walk and talk while they are sleeping, symptoms of the disorder known as sleepwalking. However, there are those who develop other characteristics of this sleep disorder, practicing sexual activities while sleeping – the so-called sexonambulism.

Without a specific cause, sexual practice during sleep is common and is one of several sleep disorders. Understand:

Sexonambulism: what is it?

According to the neurologist at the Sleep Medicine Institute of Campinas and Piracicaba, Shigueo Yonekura, sexonambulism is a sleep disorder and is part of a group of diseases known as parasomnias.

“It is a form of sleepwalking, but it is more serious, since it involves the sexual act. The behavior usually occurs in the transition between the superficial and deep sleep stages”, says the doctor.


Sexonambulism makes the person practice the sexual act, as having sex or masturbating while sleeping, without remembering anything the next day.

“The partner or partner of the person who had sex with her needs to report what happened, as she does not remember. Usually people who have the problem maintain the same sexual pattern while sleeping, although in some cases sexual behavior during sleep is more aggressive “, explains Yonekura.

Why do people forget what they do in sleep?

As sexual activities happen between the transition from the most superficial to the deepest sleep, this contributes to the person not remembering what happened.

“In this transition, the frontal lobe of the brain (responsible for the elaboration of thought and emotions) is closed, which prevents the memory of the moment from being processed. Sexual activity is not motivated by dreams and the person is not aware of the act during the episode, “says Yonekura.

Causes of sexonambulism

It is not known for sure what leads to sexonambulism. “Studies indicate, however, that the problem is more common in men with a history of nighttime terror or sleepwalking in childhood and adolescence. It may also be associated with another sleep disorder, such as apnea. Stress, personal problems and sleepless nights are also pointed out among the factors that can lead to the development of the disorder “, says the neurologist.

Risk factors

Men are more likely to develop sexonambulism, being more rare in women.

Other risk factors for the disorder are:

  • stress
  • alcohol use
  • poor sleep hygiene
  • apnea
  • Treatment

    Sexonambulism has no cure, but it has treatment. According to the doctor, the disorder can be controlled with medications, usually calming, and psychotherapy sessions – all according to each case.

    “The treatment must be prescribed by a doctor. When the disorder is suspected, it is important to seek help”, advises the specialist.

    Sleep and sex

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