Sleep Sex

Australia's The Age reports on the strange nocturnal exploits of a middle-aged woman living with a steady partner. "By night, she crept out of their house to seek random sex with strangers. But the woman was unaware of her own double life, which was conducted while she was asleep." The doctor who is treating her, Dr. Peter Buchanan, claims that she is suffering from a rare syndrome known as 'Sleep Sex', which he's hoping will soon be officially recognized as a legitimate sleep disorder. Dr. Buchanan also notes that "Incredulity is the first staging post for anyone involved in this... One has to maintain a healthy degree of scepticism." I think I'm definitely still in the incredulity and skepticism stages, because I'm having a very hard time believing this could be true. I can understand doing things around the house like making a sandwich (or even trying to have sex with your partner) while asleep. But I can't understand how anyone could leave their house, meet a stranger, and engineer a sexual encounter... while being asleep the entire time. I would accept that she may be suffering from Multiple Personality Disorder, but Sleep Sex... I'm not buying that yet.
Update: Here's an article in New Scientist about the sleep-walking woman. I'm still not convinced she was really sleeping. But it mentions a prior case where a man drove 23 kilometres, killed both his in-laws, then pleaded innocent to the murders by reason of being asleep... amazing. Can a person get out of anything by claiming to be asleep?

Psychology Sex/Romance

Posted on Thu Oct 14, 2004


My brother is notorius in our family for sleep walking. When he was 9 or 10 he was sleeping at a friend's home. Some time around 6 am he got up, walked out the front door, & encountered his friend's dad. The dad said, "Hey, Cully, is everything okay?" My brother replied, "I have to tell Lucas [our brother] something." So the dad let my brother keep going. We lived 3 houses down, but eveyone has about 2 or 3 acres, so he walked a good ways in his sleep. He went to the front door (friend's dad could see him doing this), when the front door didn't work he went around back, & we're assuming that didn't work either, b/c then he showed up at the side of the house near my mother's door. When he tried to get in there, my mother let him in. He walked right past her, into his room, back out, back down the street, into his friend's house & back into his sleeping bag.

We never did figure out what he needed to tell Lucas.
Posted by Maegan  on  Thu Oct 14, 2004  at  11:40 AM
"He was aware of some sleepwalking and there was circumstantial evidence, including the unexplained presence of condoms around the house."

So not only are she and her doctor claiming that she uses condoms while engineering sexual encounters with strangers in her sleep, but she apparently buys them in her sleep as well. Is 'Sleep Shopping' a separate diagnosis?
Posted by Patrick  on  Thu Oct 14, 2004  at  11:55 AM
If you check a magazine called BrainFloss, there is an article about this strabge, but real ailment. You will need to order a backorder though, this article is about 2 issues old. I will check online though...
Posted by Jeremy  on  Thu Oct 14, 2004  at  04:07 PM
You want a gullibility quiz? Here's a gullibility quiz:
Your wife goes out every night, buys condoms, goes to bars (or somewhere), picks up men, has sex with them, then comes home and tells you it all happened in her sleep and she doesn't know anything about it. Her doctor tells you it's true. How gullible are you?
Posted by Big Gary C  on  Fri Oct 15, 2004  at  09:25 AM
Big Gary:

I'd say on a scale of 1-10, with 1 being not gullible at all and 10 being really gullible, probably about a 25.
Posted by Bill B.  on  Fri Oct 15, 2004  at  03:24 PM
Real cases of Multiple Personality Disorder are quite rare, from what I've heard. Apparently many psychologists have become skeptical of the sudden upsurge in reported cases, and suspect that many people are simply making it up. Sleepwalking seems to make about as much sense. Which still isn't much sense...
Posted by Matt  on  Fri Oct 15, 2004  at  04:01 PM
Isn't it obvious? She's having an affair with her doctor!
Posted by Andrew Nixon  on  Sat Oct 16, 2004  at  06:10 AM
Actually, this IS a real disorder. I personally know someone with it. There was a recent article on WebMD about it, too. We are only beginning to scratch the surface of the various neurological sleep disorders. Some of them are really strange.
Try searching on "sleep disorder" and you'll get about 5 million "hits."
Posted by UglyFrog  on  Tue Jan 04, 2005  at  01:18 PM
I was interested in the field cause I was sleepwalking myself when I was a kid. In fact the last incident I know of happened when I was 21 or so, the only time I woke up standing, remembering where I was and what I was trying to do in my dream.

I read about the "double life" of sleepwalkers, and it sounds plausible to me: if they do some things (walking, working), why wouldn't they do others (sex, driving)? I don't think it's so easy to invoke somnambulism in case of crimes, first of all any indicative of planning gets you guilty for obvious reasons. Each case requires rigorous analysis, I guess one can't tell "she got away with that" without having all the details.
Posted by Mihai  on  Tue Apr 19, 2011  at  07:33 AM
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