Sunday, July 10, 2005

Sleepwalker or Sexwalker?

A respectable middle-aged woman with a steady partner would leave the house while sleepwalking and have random sex with strangers, an Australian doctor said in a report Thursday.

Peter Buchanan, who treated the woman, said this was an example of a recently identified disorder known as sleep sex, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.

The woman was totally unaware of her double life, which came to light after her partner noticed unexplained condoms around the house and eventually caught her in the act.

"He was aware of some sleepwalking and there was circumstantial evidence, including the unexplained presence of condoms around the house," said Buchanan, a sleep physician at Sydney's Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.

"On one occasion he awoke to find her absent from the bedroom and searched until he found her - engaged in such activity."

Buchanan is to describe the case this weekend to a meeting of the Australian Sleep Association, the newspaper said.

While Buchanan admitted some initial scepticism about the case, brain tests while the woman was sleeping indicated that she was unusually likely to rouse from deep sleep without passing first through lighter sleep patterns.

Almost half of all sleep sex cases were associated with psychological problems and the woman was treated successfully with psychotherapy, the doctor said. Sleep sex did not indicate sexual abuse or any other sexual problem and should be viewed as a sleep disorder, he said, rather than a sexual one.

Buchanan said sleep sex would likely soon be included in an international list of sleep disorders. It is fraught with dangers, he said, including risky sex practices and the possibility that the sufferer could commit sexual assault while sleepwalking.

"There's a huge embarrassment about seeking medical help," he added.


Hmm...this would be a great excuse to have.

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