How do I stop sleep-groping?
December 7, 2011 7:33 AM   Subscribe

I have multiple sleep problems, but in the past year they've become somewhat "molest-y" in nature. I'm looking to hear from anyone who has been treated for sexsomnia or related sleep disorders to find out what can be done.

I've always had sleep problems, either lack of, or various problems occur while sleeping, such as bruxism, flailing wildly, kicking, and particularly frequent, talking in my sleep, sometimes to the point of having detailed conversations with myself.

For the past year or more, my wife has occasionally complained of me groping her while we sleep in various ways.
The first time it happened, she was very angry, and thought I'd done it on purpose and was denying it, but since then she's talked to me while it's happening, and didn't mention it later after we awoke, and realized I have no memory of it whatsoever, and that it's entirely subconscious and so now she mostly just laughs it off and jokes about it the next day after asking if I was awake for it. Despite her taking it in good humor, it really freaks me out that I'm doing all this.

She says she asks if I'm awake when I do it, and last night, I apparently said "Yeah, yeah, I'm awake." although I have no memory of this whatsoever. I still have a hard time believing it, even wondering if she's dreaming this herself, so we're putting a video recorder on tonight to see if we can catch anything.

Since it began, she's had a few techniques, some of which are successful, at least part of the time, such as putting a pillow between us, or waking me up by elbowing me/shaking me. She says last night though I just pulled the pillow up and threw it at the top of the bed, so this isn't always effective.

Several years ago, I did a sleep study overnight, because I always felt tired, and never felt like I was getting a good sleep, but according to the technicians, I slept soundly and normally and they didn't detect anything wrong.

Is there anyone here who has been treated for this or similar parasomnias who can give me some insight on what to expect should I see a doctor/sleep clinic about it? Am I looking at another expensive sleep study?
What kind of treatment did they provide, or what were some tips you may have learned?
posted by Monkeyswithguns to Health & Fitness (15 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Do you get enough sex?
posted by devnull at 7:39 AM on December 7, 2011

See previously. If your wife now laughs this off, and you don't remember it, what's the problem?
posted by Admiral Haddock at 7:45 AM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Well, what's going on in your awake life? Are you increasingly stressed, going through transitions, dealing with anything unusual over the past year? (A lot of sleep disorders are not necessarily due to, but exacerbated greatly by, stress.) If so, I would wonder whether you're adequately coping in your awake hours, and I'd look into different ways you could relieve stress more effectively, starting with the usual suspects: exercise, therapy, more time with loved ones doing something enjoyable, etc.
posted by so_gracefully at 8:00 AM on December 7, 2011

Are you taking Ambien?
posted by desjardins at 8:00 AM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: devnull- I get enough sex, although she's currently pregnant so the frequency has gone down a bit.

Admiral Haddock- Yeah, I'd seen that post, but it doesn't address any treatment options. The problems are that I'm still not getting good sleep due to these movements, and although she usually laughs it off, she's said that occasionally it's been pretty forceful/rough. Also I'm really not comfortable with the fact that I'm doing these things unconsciously and not remembering it.
posted by Monkeyswithguns at 8:03 AM on December 7, 2011

I used to have a sexual partner who would try to have sex with people while he was asleep. He told me that if I ever woke up to him groping me and I wasn't sure if he was awake or not, that I should ask him a question, like some sort of trivia question that he didn't immediately know the answer to, so that he'd have to think about the answer.

Sure enough, a few weeks later, we were asleep and I woke up to a wandering hand. I told him "_____, you can only do X to my Y if you can tell me what the cube root of 64 is." A few seconds later, he said "Four. Sorry about that," removed his hand, and went back to sleep.

YMMV, but the trivia-question tactic worked really well to halt him in his tracks. I think that the fact that he had to think about the answer was what worked to jolt him out of his sleep-sex mode, while physically resisting would not necessarily work.
posted by kataclysm at 8:06 AM on December 7, 2011 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: I am more stressed than usual, as she's 7 mos pregnant and pretty hormonal, and I'm receiving a larger load at work in exchange for a pay-raise.
I'm getting a good deal of exercise (I do approx. 3 miles on treadmill daily) and I think I'm still getting a good deal of joy from life, although I still feel pretty stressed sometimes.

I'm not taking Ambien, only melatonin or benadryl sometimes.

I'm really looking for personal experiences, particularly if anyone has gone through any form of treatment for a sleep disorder to decide if it's worth it, or if it's better to just try to grin and bear it.
posted by Monkeyswithguns at 8:08 AM on December 7, 2011

How is your sleep hygiene?
posted by Wretch729 at 8:09 AM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

I have not had this problem, but have had a lot of trouble getting to sleep upon occasion and do take melatonin during those periods. Melatonin dramatically increases the intensity of my dreams, and has cause nightmares for some people I know. I don't have anything to specifically back this up except a lifetime of marginal sleep, but I suspect that dream intensity may have some link to somina activities. If you are able to, I would suggest to stop taking it for a good length of time and see if that affects things. If you rely on it to get to sleep perhaps finding other, non-pill form to achieve this. Not an easy task I know... but it is one area to look at.
posted by edgeways at 8:47 AM on December 7, 2011

My guy had a sleep study that said he slept beautifully, too. Finally a few years (and much sleep apnea) later, he went back for another sleep study that confirmed he had a sleep disorder. So if you don't find a good solution, talk to your doctor about another sleep study.
posted by ldthomps at 9:04 AM on December 7, 2011

Best answer: My husband does similar things to this this when stressed, or strangely enough if he gets too hot or cold in bed. So if he has too many blankets one it wakes him up enough to start talking or heading over to my side of the bed. Once I realize he is "sleep humping" I just talk to him like I would a sleep walking child and get him to roll over and then either tuck him in or put the fan on depending on his temp, I might be strange but I think it's cute and hey at least I know even his subconscious finds me sexy.

Anyway point being are you getting too hot or cold at night or is anything happening to make you not sleep as deeply as normal like dry air or allergies? I'd also be worried about the benadryl as that can do weird things to peoples brains, it always makes me restless if I take one before bed.

It's the full on conversations and arguments he gets into while sleeping that annoy me more as I can never quite make out what he's saying and he tends to start flailing around and he's a big guy so an accidental thump can hurt. If your wife finds it funny I'd just chalk it up to one of those things as long as she doesn't mind and you are waking up feeling rested.
posted by wwax at 9:05 AM on December 7, 2011

The hot cold thing sounds like something to check out. During pregnancy some women get colder or hotter than usual. If your wife is dealing with that your bed may be the wrong temperature for you. You could try just having separate covers, or, if you're worried about hurting her in your sleep, you could move to another bed.
posted by mareli at 12:01 PM on December 7, 2011

Twin beds.
posted by Carol Anne at 12:20 PM on December 7, 2011

Check the temperature -- my partner doesn't sleep-sex, but when he's too hot, he has horrible nightmares and extensive sleeptalking sessions in gibberish.
posted by linettasky at 3:23 PM on December 7, 2011

Okay. I do this.

It took many, many instances before my partner (now husband) was able to convince me that I was doing it. I remembered warm lovey feelings, but nothing else until I would wake up in the middle of sex and be 110% convinced that he had started it. Even though I was on top. The only time he gets upset about it is when I'm in full-on grope mode and then fall asleep on his shoulder: all of the build up with none of the follow-through.

I would guess that a side effect of the melatonin combined with the stress of your waking life is the reason for the sexsomnia. When I took a small dose it knocked me out within a half hour, and then I'd have horrific dreams all night long so I never woke rested.

I determined that my sexsomnia was related to stress. I wasn't able to find a better way to relieve stress when my sexsomnia was at its most active, but my situation at work eventually changed and we both sleep through the night more often.
posted by rhapsodie at 11:18 AM on December 9, 2011

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