5 Terrifying Sleep Disorders That Make Wakefulness Seem Like Bliss

Published November 15, 2016
Updated February 26, 2018

Sleep disorders: Sexsomnia


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As its name suggests, sexsomnia involves sexual activity while asleep. These activities can span from masturbation and fondling all the way to sexual assault and sometimes rape, with those afflicted not having any recollection of it after the fact.

So just what does the person with the condition “look like” in the act?

According to Psychology Today, women whose male partners have this describe the man as being “glassy-eyed” and vacant, and say that their partners cease their behavior once awakened. At least one woman described her boyfriend as being a better lover with more effective technique when asleep than awake.

People with this problem usually exhibit other sleep disorders, such as driving or eating while asleep. Use of alcohol or drugs and sleep deprivation may increase the likeliness of sexsomnia episodes, along with innocent physical contact with a partner in bed.

In case you’re wondering if sexsomnia has been used as a defense in a sexual assault case, it has – and successfully.

Night terrors

Fodder for many horror movies, night terrors may be one of the best known sleep disorders — and one of the most frightening.

During a night terror, the victim may sit bolt upright, scream, thrash, and sweat. Their heart rate can double. They will be inconsolable for a matter of minutes, eventually settle down and relax back into sleep. In the morning, they won’t remember anything.

Night terrors affect young children most frequently (peak onset is age three), and episodes tend to decrease with age. This mainly comes due to the over-arousal of the central nervous system, which is still maturing at the age when children are likely to start having these episodes. About three to six percent of kids will experience a night terror during their childhood.

While no other diagnosed psychological disorder increases the likelihood of night terrors in children, adults living with night terrors are more likely to also have PTSD or generalized stress disorder. Sometimes in adults, stopping night terrors is as easy as changing the diet or having low blood sugar.

Erin Kelly
An All That’s Interesting writer since 2013, Erin Kelly focuses on historic places, natural wonders, environmental issues, and the world of science. Her work has also been featured in Smithsonian and she’s designed several book covers in her career as a graphic artist.