'Sexsomnia' More Common Than Previously Thought

Canadian scientists discovered sexsomnia, the disorder that causes people to engage in sexual acts while they are asleep, is more common than previously thought, the Toronto Star newspaper reported Monday.

Researchers at the Sleep Research Laboratory at the University Health Network’s Toronto Western Hospital, found one in 12 patients reported engaging in sexual activity while sleeping.

The research was due to be presented Monday in San Antonio at the SLEEP 2010 conference — an annual meeting of clinicians and scientists in the field of sleep medicine and sleep research.

Sexsomniacs may complain of not feeling rested, but do not know that they had sex while sleeping. The review found it was more common in men than in women — about 11 percent versus 4 percent.

"We thought it was rare," said the laboratory’s staff scientist Sharon Chung. "It’s a lot more common than we thought."

The study was the brainchild of Dr. Colin Shapiro, head of neuropsychiatry and the Sleep and Alertness Clinic at Toronto Western Hospital. Shapiro coined the term Sexomnia and provided expert medical testimony about it at several criminal trials.