Skip to main content

Sleepsex: A Variant of Sleepwalking

Abstract

Sexual acts performed by a sleeping subject have been rarely reported. Two cases are now presented involving sexual behavior performed while asleep. The first case involves the hitherto unreported association of sleepsex with sleepeating. The second case concerns a rarely reported act of sexual battery by a known sleepwalker, and the use of somnambulism as a legal defense. Sexual behavior in sleep may be pleomorphic and more common than realized in both the patient and normal populations.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

REFERENCES

  1. Blatt, I., Peled, R., Gadoth, N., and Lavie, P. (1991). The value of sleep recording in evaluating somnambulism in young adults. Electroencephalog. Clin. Neurophysiol. 78: 407-412.

    Google Scholar 

  2. Bonkalo, A. (1974). Impulsive acts and confusional states during incomplete arousal from sleep; Criminological and forensic implications. Psychiat. Quart. 48: 400-409

    Google Scholar 

  3. Broughton, R. J. (1968). Sleep disorders: Disorders of arousal? Science 159: 1070-1078.

    Google Scholar 

  4. Buchanan, A. (1991). Sleepwalking and indecent exposure. Med. Sci. Law 31: 38-40.

    Google Scholar 

  5. Crick, F., and Mitchison, G. (1983). The function of dream sleep. Nature 304: 111-114.

    Google Scholar 

  6. Crisp, A. H., Matthews, B. M., Oakey, M., and Crutchfield, M. (1990). Sleepwalking, night terrors, and consciousness. Br. Med. J. 300: 360-362.

    Google Scholar 

  7. Elliott, F. A., (1992). Violence. The Neurologic Contribution: An overview. Arch. Neurol. 49: 595-603

    Google Scholar 

  8. Foulkes, D. (1967). Nonrapid eye movement mentation. Exp. Neurol. 19: 28-38.

    Google Scholar 

  9. Freud, S. (1955). The Interpretation of Dreams, (J. Strachey, Trans.) , Basic Books, New York. (Original work published 1900).

    Google Scholar 

  10. Gauld, A. (1992). Hypnosis, somnambulism and double consciousness. Contemp. Hypnosis 9(2): 69-76.

    Google Scholar 

  11. Hamer, B. A., and Payne, A. (1993). Sleep automatism: Clinical study in forensic nursing. Perspect. Psychiat. Care. 29(2): 7-11.

    Google Scholar 

  12. Hays, P. (1992). False but sincere accusations of sexual assault made by narcoleptic patients. Medico-Legal J. 60: 265-271.

    Google Scholar 

  13. Hendricks, J. C., Morrison, A. R., and Mann, G. L. (1982). Different behaviors during paradoxical sleep without atonia depend on pontine lesion site. Brain Res. 239: 81-105.

    Google Scholar 

  14. Hurwitz, T. D., Mahowald, M. W., and Schluter, J. L. (1989). Sleep-related sexual abuse of children. Sleep Res. 18: 246. (abstract)

    Google Scholar 

  15. Mahowald, M. W., Bundlie, S. R., Hurwitz, T. D., and Schenck, C. H. (1990). Sleep Violence—Forensic implications: Polygraphic and video documentation. J. Forensic Sci. 35: 413-432.

    Google Scholar 

  16. Pai, M. N. (1946). Sleep-walking and sleep activities. J. Ment. Sci. 92: 756-765.

    Google Scholar 

  17. Schenk, C. H., Hurwitz, T. D., and Mahowald, M. W. (1993). REM sleep behavior disorder: An update on a series of 96 patients and a review of the world literature. Sleep Res. 2: 224-231.

    Google Scholar 

  18. Schenck, C. H., and Mahowald, M. W. (1994). Review of nocturnal sleep-related eating disorders. In t. J. Eating Disorders 15: 343-356.

    Google Scholar 

  19. Schenck, C. H., Milner, D. M., Hurwitz, T. D., Bundlie, S. R., and Mahowald, M. W. (1989). Dissociative disorders presenting as somnambulism: Polysomnographic, video and clinical documentation (8 cases). Dissociation 2(4): 194-204.

    Google Scholar 

  20. Shapiro, C. M., Fedoroff, J. P., and Trajanovic, N. N. (1996). Sexual behavior in sleep; a newly described parasomnia. Sleep Res. 25: 367

    Google Scholar 

  21. Sours, J. A., Frumkin, P., and Indermill, R. R. (1963). Somnambulism. Its clinical significance and dynamic meaning in late adolescence and adulthood. Arch. Gen. Psychiat. 9: 112-125.

    Google Scholar 

  22. Thorpy, M. J. (ed.). (1990). The International Classification of Sleep Disorders: Diagnostic and Coding Manual, American Sleep Disorders Association, Rochester, MN.

    Google Scholar 

  23. Treiman, D. (1986). Epilepsy and violence: Medical and legal issues. Epilepsia 27(Suppl. 2): S77-S104.

    Google Scholar 

  24. Wong, K. E. (1986). Masturbation during sleep—a somnambulistic variant? Singapore Med. J. 27: 542-543. ***bs]NOTE ADDED IN PROOF

    Google Scholar 

  25. Borum, R., and Applebaum, K. L. (1996). Epilepsy, aggression, and criminal responsibility. Psychiat. Serv. 47(7): 762-763.

    Google Scholar 

  26. Fenwick, P. (1996). Sleep and sexual offending. Med. Sci. Law. 36(2): 122-134.

    Google Scholar 

  27. Thomas, T. N. (1997). Sleepwalking disorder and Mens Rea: A review and case report. J. Forensic Sci. 42(1): 17-24.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Authors

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Rosenfeld, D.S., Elhajjar, A.J. Sleepsex: A Variant of Sleepwalking. Arch Sex Behav 27, 269–278 (1998). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1018651018224

Download citation

  • SLEEPSEX
  • SLEEPEATING
  • SLEEPWALKING