Q&A: I Masturbate In My Sleep. What Can I Do?

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QUESTION: This have been happening for a long time now, and it's annoying me. I wake up with weird dirt under my nails. I found out I was sleep masturbating, when once, I had my period, I woke up with blood under my nails. but the weird part is that it's not accompanied with sexual dreams or anything. And I’m 22 not 17! I'm moving out this year to live with my best-friend, so I'm freaking out that it may happen while we're in the same room.I've noticed that whenever there's a person sleeping in the same room as me (if I'm sleeping over at a friend's house or...etc) I wake up clean!

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Fingernails

Photo: CHAUSS513

Dirty Fingernails

Safety First

If you haven’t already, I’d encourage you to make an appointment with a sleep specialist. Engaging in sexual behavior, whether masturbation or attempts at sex with someone else, is sometimes described as “sexsomnia” or “sleepsex”.

Sexsomnia Varies

Some people who engage in sexual behavior while sleeping experience it only rarely. Other research shows that some people who experience sexsomnia experience it 2 or 3 times per week, on average, if not more often.

Some people masturbate in connection with a sleep disorder and others try to have sex with someone else as part of it, which can make relationships and roommate situations challenging, as you can imagine. Similar to sleepwalking, very often people with sexsomnia have no memory of it occurring and only know about it because someone they share a room or a bed with tell them about it, or because – as with you – there is some physical evidence of it.

It Can Get Better

Although sexsomnia seems more common in men than women, it happens to many women too. Some doctors treat patients with different types of pills, including certain antidepressants in some cases.

The good news is that a better understanding of and treatment of the sleep disorder is possible such that you can hope to address the sleep masturbation AND get better quality sleep!

Dr. Debby Herbenick (M.P.H., Ph.D.)

is a sexual health educator at The Kinsey Institute, Associate Director of the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University and author of several books including Sex Made Easy and Because It Feels Good: A Woman's Guide to Sexual Pleasure and Satisfaction.
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