, Volume 33, Issue 3, pp 287-293

A Phenomenology of Problematic Sexual Behavior Occurring in Sleep

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First-person reports of individuals' experiences of problematic “sleep sex” were collected in an Internet-based study. Qualitative analysis of 121 reports yielded 6 distinct themes: (1) fear and a lack of emotional intimacy; (2) guilt and confusion; (3) a sense of repulsion and feelings of sexual abandonment; (4) shame, disappointment, and frustration; (5) annoyance and suspicion; (6) embarrassment and a sense of “self-incrimination.” Results suggest that sleep sex can elicit negative emotions and cognitions that may become a source of personal and relational distress. Clinician familiarity with problematic sleep sex may foster more effective communication with individuals presenting with such complaints.