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Having sex while asleep? It could be 'sexsomnia'

The research paper states that both sexsomnia and sleepwalking are a form of parasomnia, unusual and undesirable behaviors that happen while asleep, falling asleep or while waking up.

Some people walk in their sleep, while others talk. Now a new study has found novel sleeping disorder- Having sex with partners while asleep.

Sleep walking, sleep talking, grinding your teeth and snoring are some common sleep disorders.

Sexsomnia
Now researchers at the Sleep Research Lab at the University Health Network in Toronto are adding sexsomnia- having sex while sleeping- to the growing list of sleep disorders.

In sexsomnia disorder, people initiate some form of sexual activity while asleep, the researchers explain.

The sleep sex, or sexual behavior such as masturbation or intercourse with a bed partner during sleep, may be more common, than previously thought, in those with sleep disorders, according to the new research paper.

The research team also found that the phenomenon was nearly three times higher in men (11 percent) than women (4 percent).

Study details
For their study, Sharon A. Chung, who works in the department of psychiatry at the University Health Network in Toronto, and colleagues reviewed the medical charts of 832 consecutive patients seeking help at a Toronto sleep center.

All the patients were asked to fill a questionnaire asking about their sleep disorder symptoms, their behaviors during sleep, their degree of sleepiness, fatigue levels, and descriptions of their moods, according to WebMD.

Findings
Of the study subjects, including 428 men and 404 women, 63 patients or 7.6 percent reported that they initiated or engaged in sexual activity, like masturbating, with a bed partner while asleep.

After analyzing the data, Chung and colleagues found that symptoms of insomnia, fatigue and depression were similar between sexsomniac people and other patients without sexsomnia.

Both groups also had similar rates of smoking and caffeine consumption, according to WebMD.

Sexsomniacs, however, were twice as likely as other sleep center patients to admit to using illicit drugs (15.9 percent vs. 7.7 percent), it was found.

More common among men
The research team also found that the phenomenon was nearly three times higher in men (11 percent) than women (4 percent).

"There have been no previous studies of how frequently sexsomnia occurs," Chung said. "While our finding of 8 percent of people reporting sexsomnia seems really a high number, it should be stressed that we only studied patients referred to a sleep clinic. So, we would expect the numbers to be much lower in the general population."

Patients reluctant to talk about their sleep sex
Also, the survey showed that patients rarely mentioned sexsomnia to their physician. Only four of the 63 sexsomniacs in the survey had complained about it during a consultation with a sleep specialist.

"It seems that patients generally don't discuss this with their doctors," Chung said.

Sexsomnia are classified as 'parasomnias'
Sexsomnia may occur predominantly during confused states of arousal, and may take place during a sleepwalking episode, experts say.

The research paper says sexsomnia and sleepwalking both disorders are a form of parasomnia, unusual and undesirable behaviors that happen while asleep, falling asleep or while waking up.

In the survey, however, only 6 percent of sexsomniac people also had parasomnia symptoms.

The results were presented June 7 in San Antonio at SLEEP 2010, the 24th annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies.