“Sleeping together in sleep”

When sleepwalking takes place inside the bed

Whoever has sex with someone else without his consent, especially if the victim is surprised in his sleep, is liable to prosecution. However, such a thing can also surprise the perpetrator in his sleep.

In sex education we were once told that children are born when daddy and mommy make love and the man’s penis is inserted into the woman’s vagina. On the one hand, we found it astonishing that such a thing could work so easily even in our latitudes, where most people wear pajamas for temperature reasons; on the other hand, it was quite a pity that such a thing should happen to people while they were asleep, without any of the people involved noticing it, and not while they were awake, as is the case with animals. Could one really not help there at least a little bit?

The lord gives it to his own in coitus. That the expression "to sleep together" and "coitus" has very little to do with sleep, but the fact that these things often take place in bed was something the teachers preferred not to explain to us. Sex was supposed to make us seem innocent and harmless and save the teachers embarrassment when they made love to us in the belief that it all happened by itself while we slept. So we were very careful never to fall asleep near a person of the opposite sex, until the first unofficial sex education materials, i.E. Porn magazines, circulated and proved that at least men were not asleep during sex, while women sometimes were: after all, they often had their eyes closed…

Body awake, consciousness in deep sleep

So far, so funny. But some people actually manage to have sex while asleep: just as there are sleepwalkers who get up at night, go for a walk, even climb roofs without waking up, i.E. Without becoming conscious, sometimes other confusing things happen while they are asleep, too. The reason is that in these cases only a part of the brain wakes up and the commands from the brain to the muscles and nerves, which are normally suppressed during sleep, become active, but the consciousness does not, so the person remains in the dream state.

Normally, in the dream state, all nerves that transmit conscious movements are shut down: after a short twitch, which sometimes wakes up the person falling asleep, and which is definitely felt by a partner holding the person falling asleep, the person falling asleep can climb stairs, fly, thrash about and even have sex without making any noise other than snoring.

If this mechanism does not work properly, the bed partner may get unexpected bruises because the sleeper lashes out. Sleepwalkers, on the other hand, leave the bed but are not really conscious and therefore do not notice when they are in danger. If the toilet is only visited during sleep, this is not too tragic and normally more pleasant than the variant of only dreaming about visiting the toilet and then waking up to find a wet bed. It is less pleasant when a sleepwalker makes it to the front door or onto the roof, or even gets into his car. And of course there is also the case when a sleepwalker moves to another room and another bed.

Walks in and out of bed

But even if he doesn’t leave his own bed for this purpose, real sex in deep sleep can be an unpleasant affair: after all, the more or less involuntary partner is not even asked whether he likes it – and the "sleep sex" sometimes goes rather roughly and is no pleasure for the partner. One woman, on the other hand, only noticed that her husband was falling over her in his sleep because he was snoring horribly during intercourse – thus involuntarily topping the common prejudice that men always fall asleep immediately afterwards.

In the current new scientist, which is devoted to this topic in detail, among other things, the case of lisa mahoney is described. When she first woke up while her boyfriend was trying to sleep with her, she scolded him for it and he replied that she had started it after all, she still thought it was just an excuse. Years later, when a good friend of hers, who wanted nothing more from her, spent the night with her and complained the next morning about nighttime advances on her part, she began to grumble. Her current partner attacks her in her sleep almost every night, and while he enjoyed it in the beginning, by now it’s just plain boring: who wants to sleep with a zombie?? The cases when the partner likes this kind of sex are rare.

While sleepwalking is said to affect two to four percent of adults, according to nik trajanovic of the sleep clinic at toronto western hospital in canada, sleep sex is said to be much rarer but more common than the usual medical records show: most sufferers are embarrassed and do not report it to their doctor. Moreover, the incident naturally becomes known only when the person shares his bed with someone else: a person who sleeps alone and then begins erotic acts in his sleep usually has no witnesses, although there is a well-known case of a patient who fell asleep in the dentist’s chair and then began to masturbate to the amazement of the staff. Another did it at home in his own bed, but so violently that his penis was regularly scratched and sore afterwards.

Becoming a criminal in your sleep?

It becomes problematic, however, when rape occurs as a result of "sleep sex", especially since sexsomnia, as it is scientifically called, is naturally also used as an excuse by real rapists, and it is of little help to the victim of such an attack that the whole thing did not happen on purpose. A concerned father, who found himself awakening in his daughter’s bed, voluntarily moved out to avoid a recurrence.

In 1996, colin shapiro, now director of the sleep clinic at toronto western hospital, published the first such trap. In 1999, michael mangan, a psychologist at the university of new hampshire in durham, launched the website www.Sleepsex.Org. He reports receiving almost daily descriptions of their own traps from visitors to the site who are deeply concerned about this loss of control.

Finally, a questionnaire has been set up on this website, to which 219 serious responses have been received. The victims are between 15 and 67 years old, and one third of them are female, which is in line with the rates for sleepwalkers. It is therefore not a phenomenon limited to young men, as was initially thought. Stress, sleep deprivation and alcohol or drug use increase the tendency to sleep sex in those who are prone to it. The predisposition also appears to be hereditary.

In 2005, sexsomnia was scientifically classified as a sleep disorder for the first time. However, a treatment has not yet been found and medications intended for sleepwalkers and insomnia, which also work here, cannot be taken every night to prevent such an occurrence. In the end, everyone who is only wide awake is lucky to be able to get close to his partner.

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