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.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
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.
Bonkalo, A. (1974). Impulsive acts and confusional states during incomplete arousal from sleep; Criminological and forensic implications. Psychiat. Quart. 48: 400-409
Broughton, R. J. (1968). Sleep disorders: Disorders of arousal? Science 159: 1070-1078.
Buchanan, A. (1991). Sleepwalking and indecent exposure. Med. Sci. Law 31: 38-40.
Crick, F., and Mitchison, G. (1983). The function of dream sleep. Nature 304: 111-114.
Crisp, A. H., Matthews, B. M., Oakey, M., and Crutchfield, M. (1990). Sleepwalking, night terrors, and consciousness. Br. Med. J. 300: 360-362.
Elliott, F. A., (1992). Violence. The Neurologic Contribution: An overview. Arch. Neurol. 49: 595-603
Foulkes, D. (1967). Nonrapid eye movement mentation. Exp. Neurol. 19: 28-38.
Freud, S. (1955). The Interpretation of Dreams, (J. Strachey, Trans.) , Basic Books, New York. (Original work published 1900).
Gauld, A. (1992). Hypnosis, somnambulism and double consciousness. Contemp. Hypnosis 9(2): 69-76.
Hamer, B. A., and Payne, A. (1993). Sleep automatism: Clinical study in forensic nursing. Perspect. Psychiat. Care. 29(2): 7-11.
Hays, P. (1992). False but sincere accusations of sexual assault made by narcoleptic patients. Medico-Legal J. 60: 265-271.
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.
Hurwitz, T. D., Mahowald, M. W., and Schluter, J. L. (1989). Sleep-related sexual abuse of children. Sleep Res. 18: 246. (abstract)
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.
Pai, M. N. (1946). Sleep-walking and sleep activities. J. Ment. Sci. 92: 756-765.
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.
Schenck, C. H., and Mahowald, M. W. (1994). Review of nocturnal sleep-related eating disorders. In t. J. Eating Disorders 15: 343-356.
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.
Shapiro, C. M., Fedoroff, J. P., and Trajanovic, N. N. (1996). Sexual behavior in sleep; a newly described parasomnia. Sleep Res. 25: 367
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.
Thorpy, M. J. (ed.). (1990). The International Classification of Sleep Disorders: Diagnostic and Coding Manual, American Sleep Disorders Association, Rochester, MN.
Treiman, D. (1986). Epilepsy and violence: Medical and legal issues. Epilepsia 27(Suppl. 2): S77-S104.
Wong, K. E. (1986). Masturbation during sleep—a somnambulistic variant? Singapore Med. J. 27: 542-543. ***bs]NOTE ADDED IN PROOF
Borum, R., and Applebaum, K. L. (1996). Epilepsy, aggression, and criminal responsibility. Psychiat. Serv. 47(7): 762-763.
Fenwick, P. (1996). Sleep and sexual offending. Med. Sci. Law. 36(2): 122-134.
Thomas, T. N. (1997). Sleepwalking disorder and Mens Rea: A review and case report. J. Forensic Sci. 42(1): 17-24.
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