Q&A: I Try To Have Sex While I’m Sleeping

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QUESTION: My girlfriend says that I sometimes try to have sex with her in the middle of the night or that she will wake up to find me masturbating kind of aggressively. At first I thought she was joking (I can't remember any of it), but it's happened enough now—and she's serious enough—that I believe her. What would be causing this? What can I do about it?

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graffiti of boy sleepwalking

Photo: Trois Tetes (Flickr)

This is an important issue to look into, so please do check in with a healthcare provide who has expertise with sleep disorders.

This is sometimes called “sexsomnia” and is a feature of some sleep disorders. I’d recommend checking in with a sleep specialist who may be able to screen you for sleep disorders and, if they can identify sleep problems, may be able to offer treatment that helps to curb these middle-of-the-night episodes.

It may be that you’ve masturbated during sleep with no recollection for months or years, and never known about it, if you’ve never shared a bed with anyone before.

There are all sorts of things people learn about each other when they start sharing a bed.

It’s lucky you have someone who has helped identify this as there are instances in which they have essentially sleepwalked and tried to have sex with someone where they live (like a family member or person in their apartment building) and then had no memory of it the next day.

In other words: this is an important issue to look into, so please do check in with a healthcare provide who has expertise with sleep disorders.

You can read more about this topic in Sex Made Easy: Your Awkward Questions Answered-For Better, Smarter, Amazing Sex.

Next Question: My Girlfriend Spends Too Much Time With Her Ex

I am having trouble dealing with the amount of time my current partner spends with her ex. Repeatedly in the past he has thwarted her attempts to date other people through physical aggression toward the guy. After their break up, she continued to sleep with him until she started to date me. Even now, she often calls him for rides or has meals with him (even canceling plans with me to do so). He is constantly telling her how lonely he is and how much he misses her. I trust her, but I feel that I deserve to be in a relationship where I do not have to have a previous lover constantly trying to get back together with the person I am dating.

Read Dr. Debby Herbenick’s response.

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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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