Sexsomnia - what is it and how can you prevent it from happening - FOX 26 News | MyFoxHouston

Sexsomnia - what is it and how can you prevent it from happening?

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HOUSTON (FOX 26) -

TV shows have featured story lines with sexual abuse happening while a person was actually sleeping, but many of us roll our eyes in disbelief. That disbelief makes it more difficult when someone you know or you yourself suffer from sexsomnia. This disorder is known among researchers and the field of Psychology to correlate with other significant sleep related problems, such as driving and eating while asleep.

In addition to co-existing sleep disorders, other factors that influence its occurrence are alcohol use, sleep apnea, and sleep deprivation. The person who engages in sex while asleep has no memory of the event and will stop the activity if they are woken up not understanding why the person who wakes them appears upset.

One of the biggest problems with sexsomnia is the abuse that may occur because of it, and the fact that you cannot know who is suffering from it until after the fact. EEGs can prove the person is sleeping while engaging in sex, but normally no one goes to bed with an EEG machine recording their activity. It becomes a problem when someone breaks the law and criminal prosecution is attempted because suffering from sexsomnia has been successfully used as a criminal defense.

The cure for sexsomnia may not be possible, but there are effective treatments. Medications that are taken prior to bedtime, as well as a Cpap machines for those who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea, help prevent the episode from happening. For some patients, anti-seizure medications are the best approach. Educational counseling for the couple will be helpful as well.

Sexsomnia is rare, although with the increase in sleep apnea due to an increasingly obese culture more cases are probable. There are things you can do which will help prevent sexsomnia, as well as other sleep related health issues, from happening. According to a recent article in Psychology Today, more than 35% of all Americans get less than 7 hours of a sleep at night. Six hour sleepers' work performance deteriorated equal to a group who stayed up 24 hours after just two weeks. Six-hour sleepers also struggle more with obesity, age faster, and have a higher risk of mortality. You may not get sexsomnia, but your chances of falling asleep while driving is twice as high if you don't get at least 7 hours of sleep according to the AAA.

What can you do to help ensure a full nights rest? Below are a few suggestions.

1. Turn off electronics at least one hour prior to bedtime.

2. Set the thermostat to a lower temp.

3. Have a restful environment where there are no televisions or computers.

4. Make your room as dark as possible. Consider dimmer switches on your lights and begin lowering the lights one hour prior to bedtime. Light exposure makes our brains turn on.

5. As much as possible, make sure you have exercised at least 20 minutes during the day, but never as late as one hour prior to winding down for bed.

6. If you have chronic pain, make sure you have taken pain medications at least one hour prior to bed.

7. Go to sleep with your partner so there will be no disturbance during the night. Set a bedtime and stick to it as well as a wake up time even on weekends.

8. If you wake up in the night, don't panic with worry about not getting enough sleep. Think of letting go rather than remembering facts. You can train your mind.

The fact that we can extend our work hours into wee hours of the morning does not mean we should. Sleep is essential to our health. Half of all the stress disorders are associated with lack of sleep. The body is a miraculous machine, but it needs to turn off to restore itself and shortening that cycle is not good for your body, mind or soul.

– Mary Jo Rapini

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