Sexsomnia: abnormal sexual behavior during sleep

Brain Res Rev. 2007 Dec;56(2):271-82. doi: 10.1016/j.brainresrev.2007.06.005. Epub 2007 Jul 13.


This review attempts to assemble the characteristics of a distinct variant of sleepwalking called sexsomnia/sleepsex from the seemingly scarce literature into a coherent theoretical framework. Common features of sexsomnia include sexual arousal with autonomic activation (e.g. nocturnal erection, vaginal lubrication, nocturnal emission, dream orgasms). Somnambulistic sexual behavior and its clinical implications, the role of precipitating factors, diagnostic, treatment, and medico-legal issues are also reviewed. The characteristics of several individuals described in literature including their family/personal history of parasomnia as well as the abnormal behaviors occurring during sleep are reported.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Drinking / psychology
  • Female
  • Genitalia / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Paraphilic Disorders / chemically induced
  • Paraphilic Disorders / diagnosis
  • Paraphilic Disorders / psychology*
  • Parasomnias / psychology*
  • Sexual Behavior / physiology*