Sexsomnia: A Specialized Non-REM Parasomnia?

    loading  Checking for direct PDF access through Ovid



To describe patients with sexsomnia and to contrast their clinical and sleep measures with those of healthy controls and sleepwalkers.

Aims and Methods:

Subjects referred for sexsomnia and for sleepwalking/night terror were interviewed, completed the Paris Arousal Disorder Severity Scale (PADSS), and were monitored 1-2 nights with video-polysomnography.


Seventeen patients (70.6% male, aged 17-76 years) had sexsomnia, with amnestic fondling of the bed partner (n = 11), complete sexual intercourse (n = 8), masturbation (n = 8), and spontaneous orgasm (n = 1). The sexual behaviors were more direct during sleep than during wakefulness (n = 12), leading to 6 sexual assaults, including intra-conjugal rape (n = 3), assault of a family member (n = 2), rape of a friend (n = 1), and forensic consequences (n = 2). In 47% of sexsomnia patients, there was a history or current occurrences of sleepwalking/night terrors. Patients with sexsomnia had more N3 awakenings than healthy matched controls and the same amount as regular sleepwalkers. Half of them presented evidence of cortico-cortical dissociation, including concomitant slow (mostly frontal) and rapid (mostly temporal and occipital) electroencephalography (EEG) rhythms, with concomitant N3 penile erection in 1 case. Of 89 sleepwalkers, 10% had previous episodes of amnestic sexual behaviors, with a higher PADSS-A score and a trend of a higher total PADSS score than the 80 sleepwalkers without sexsomnia.


In this single-center series, we confirmed the male predominance of sexsomnias and its potential for severe clinical and forensic consequences. The results suggest a continuum of regular sleepwalking, sleepwalking with occasional sexsomnia, and quasi-exclusive sexsomnia.

Related Topics

    loading  Loading Related Articles