It may seem like a bit of fun to wake up having sex spontaneously with your partner in the middle of the night. But for some, sexsomnia is a disturbing condition which has them trying their luck with their partner with no recollection of their lascivious behaviour the following morning.
The condition can be likened to sleep-walking but may have a more disastrous effect on relationships — especially if your partner has to shrug off your advances as much as three times a night.
Sexsomnia was identified as a parasomnia by psychologists in the 1990s. A parasomnia is an unwanted behaviour such as sleep-walking or -talking.
Professor of neurology at National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery in London, Matthew Walker, told the Daily Mail that most parasomnias are likely to happen in the deep sleep phase — usually earlier on in the night.
During this stage of sleeping, the part of the brain that accounts for planning and awareness — the Cortex — is at its least active, making impulsive behaviour possible.
"By this stage, the sexsomniac is acting completely without inhibition," Walker explained. Yet they're unlikely to remember what they got up to because the Cortex is also responsible for memory, which explains why sexsomniacs don't know what they've been up to in the night.
A number of characteristics have been identified such as that the episodes may occur more frequently during times of stress and that the sufferer may have other parasomnia behaviour such as sleep-walking. It is also believed to affect more men than women.
Skeptics believe that the condition offers sexual predators an excuse for criminal behaviour but Walker says the condition isn't something that one can easily fake.
In order to convince a court of law that a perpetrator is a sexsomniac, they have to prove three things. "First, that the defendant has previously suffered from parasomnias. Second, the act hasn’t been planned or sought out. And finally, there is no covering of tracks afterwards, because if they’re truly a sexsomniac, they will have no recollection of the incident and won’t need to come up with excuses," he told the Daily Mail.