If you have ever experienced SBS, please tell us about it! [click here]. Your story is important and will contribute to my ongoing research into this disorder. All submissions are entirely anonymous.

1996: Shapiro, Fedoroff and Trajanovic first advanced the notion that sexual behavior during sleep may be a new type of “parasomnia.” Shapiro, C.M., Fedoroff, J.P., & Trajanovic, N.N. (1996). Sexual behavior in sleep: A newly described parasomnia. Sleep Research, 25, 367.

1998: Some experts later suggested that SBS may be a variant of sleepwalking. Rosenfeld, D. S., Elhajjar, A. J. (1998). Sleepsex: A variant of sleepwalking. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 27(3) , 269-278.

1999: Brazilian researchers showed that sexual behavior in sleep can be successfully “treated” pharmacologically. Alves R, Aloe F, Tavares S, Vidrio S, Yanez L, Aguilar-Roblero R, Rosenthal L, Villalobos L, Fernandez-Cancino F, Drucker-Colin R, Chagoya De Sanchez V. (1999). Sexual behavior in sleep, sleepwalking and possible REM behavior disorder: a case report. Sleep Res Online, 2(3), 71-2.

2002: Researchers at Stanford University suggested that “violent” or problematic forms of sleepsex are a medically treatable “conditions.” Guilleminault C, Moscovitch A, Yuen K, Poyares D. (2002). Atypical sexual behavior during sleep. Psychosom Med. 64(2), 328-36.

2003: The research suggests sleepsex, or “sexsomnia” can be distinguished from all known parasomnias and thus is likely to be a distinct clinical entity. (Download article PDF) Shapiro, C.M., Trajanovic, N.N., & Fedoroff, J.P. (2003) Sexsomnia: A new parasomnia? Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 48(5), 311-317.

2004: Paper presents first systematic examination of the phenomenology of problematic sexual behavior occuring in sleep. Mangan, M.A. (2004). A phenomenology of problematic sexual behavior occurring in sleepArchives of Sexual Behavior, 33(3), 287-93.

2005: Paper describes parasomnias and their importance to psychiatry. The authors indicate sexual behavior, along with other types of automatisms, can be expected to occur in cases of parasomnia. Schenck, C.H., Mahowald, M.W. (2005)Rapid eye movement and non-REM sleep parasomnias. Primary Psychiatry, 12(8), 67-74.

2007: Paper reviews academic literature concerning sexual behavior in sleep. Authors’ conclude: “A broad range of sleep-related disorders associated with abnormal sexual behaviors and experiences exists, with major clinical and forensic consequences.” Schenck, C.H., Arnulf, I., Mahowald, M.W. (2007). Sleep and Sex: What can go wrong? A review of the literature on sleep-related disorders and abnormal sexual behaviors and experiences. Sleep, 30(6), 677-686.

2007: Paper reviews the literature on sexual behavior in sleep comparing samples sizes of clinical versus Web-based research. The advantages and disadvantages of Web-based research on sexsomnia are discussed. Mangan, M., & Reips, U. D. (2007) Sleep, sex, and the Web: Surveying the difficult-to-reach clinical population suffering from sexsomnia. Behavior Research Methods, 39, 233–236.

2007: Paper discusses the results of a Web-based survery of persons with direct experience of sexual behavior in sleep. Among the findings were that bodily contact is a commonly reported trigger for episodes. Trajanovic, N. N.; Mangan M., Shapiro C. M. (2007). Sexual behaviour in sleep: an Internet survey. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 42(12):1024-31.

Is there a clinical diagnosis for sexsomnia (SBS)?

Sexsomnia is not presently included in the American Academy of Sleep Medicine’s Diagnostic and Coding Manual/International Classification of Sleep Disorders (ICSD) as a specific sleep disorder. Nor is it in the most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association (a manual used to clinically diagnose psychiatric conditions).

However, the ICSD, the most widely used classification of sleep disorders, does discuss sexual behavior in sleep as a variant of an existing sleep disorder known a “confusional arousals.” It is recognized by leaders in sleep medicine as something that can and does occur in some people.

Many people for whom sexsomnia has become problematic are too embarrassed to seek help because they think no one will believe them. I have received many reports from individuals who have sought the help of physicians, counselors, and psychologists only to have their   complaints dismissed. Why? Because many professionals are uninformed about sexsomnia. If SBS has become problematic for you, I suggest printing copies of the research abstracts (linked above) prior to seeking help. Bring them with you when you seek help from a sleep medicine specialist, physician or other professionals (including clergy).