S L E E P M A S T U R B A T I O N - S E X S O M N I A
My Story

My story (April 2003)
[Update (October 2003)]        [Update (November 2006)]

In 1999 my boyfriend told me I masturbate during the night. I couldn't believe what I was hearing, because I had no recollection of what he had described. He didn't give me the benefit of the doubt, cause he told me immediately he didn't believe I was sleeping. According to him it happened to suspicious to be asleep. And, unfortunately, his opinion hasn't changed till this day.

My first connection in the medical world was with my GP. Maybe he had dealt with this before or heard of it. He couldn't endorse this or see the 'problem'. He told me my boyfriend just had to accept it and it wasn't my problem, but his. After all other strange things happen during sleep more often. No advice, no support, no help. So I left empty-handed...

"Where do I turn to next? Who can help me? How can I stop this? Are there more people with this disorder? Why am I doing this? How long has this been going on? How can I 'prove' that I really don't recall a thing?" Since I don't have a positive history with relationships and never learned to masturbate, I thought it might be psychological. Therapy looked like a good option to find answers. Fortunately I found a great psychologist/sexologist. Also she never heard of this behaviour before, but from her I did get the support I so needed. She helped me to find answers and solutions.

She suggested I'd make an appointment with a neurologist at a sleep-institute. And also this specialized sleep-neurologist never heard of this behaviour either. The loneliness I felt at that moment was huge. I became more and more convinced I was the only one in the world with this behaviour. The neurologist did want to take an EEG to help evaluate the health of my brain, to diagnose nervous system disorders and/or to determine if there is abnormal electrical activity while I'm sleeping. After the electrodes had been placed I had to carry the EEG recorder for 24 hours. A few days later I got the results... nothing out of the ordinary. Very conflicting, but I wasn't really happy with the "good" news. I hoped something would show, so it would prove to my boyfriend I was/am telling him the truth. To ease my mind another EEG was taken... the results... again nothing out of the ordinary. This probably enforced my boyfriends' disposition even more... about me being awake and being able to control it, otherwise the results would have been different. Very disappointing for me and for the neurologist the case was closed. What more could he do? He did suggest to start filming myself while sleeping. Maybe it would pass when I sub-consciously know I was being filmed.

While I was going from one practice to the other I also searched online. It turned out hard to find anything about this disorder. Very frustrating, since I needed confirmation I wasn't the only one. So the sense of relieve was huge when I came across the website of Michael Mangan. Like an elephant rolling of my chest. The website also has a forum and I devoured all the stories of fellow sufferers. It comforted me to find support, confirmation but mostly knowing I wasn't alone after all. Not long after I became upset with the sleep-neurologist. Referring to my findings I wrote him a letter, adding printed stories and information I found online. In the mean time I kept on searching for new methods, solutions and answers to be able to prove to my boyfriend I am telling him the truth.

Once I heard that someone quit smoking with hypnosis, so I started to look for a hypnotist. I soon found out that, in Holland, full hypnosis isn't practiced anymore. Hypno-therapy came closest to full hypnosis. But after a few sessions there still was no change in my disturbing behaviour so I quit the therapy. I didn't want to give up, but the frustration and disappointment of hitting a brick wall over and over again started to take its toll.

It took a long time when I finally found 'evidence' on a recorded tape. It happens to be that it's clearer with a man masturbating, then with a woman. We already knew that I masturbate at night, but because of the tape it did become a hard fact. Unfortunately we weren't able to decide if I was awake or asleep... and since that is the heart of our discussions. Not me doing it or not, but the truth versus lying. It all still didn't get us anywhere. What's next?

The filming, the psychologists, the neurologists, the therapies, etc., I was getting so fed up with it. I was tiptoeing continuously... waiting for the next fight. We started losing faith in our relationship and I didn't know what more I could do to prove I'm telling the truth. I feel I'm the only one fighting for our relationship. He doesn't support me in all the things I do, cause to him I'm very aware of what's going on at night. I can't talk to him about my anxieties and experiences, cause I know beforehand he doesn't believe me anyway.

In the mean time I received a letter from the sleep-neurologist in which he responded to the letter I had send him. He had done some research on his own and found a medicine that might help. A couple of weeks later my boyfriend and I where back at his office. I was quit cheerful, because it gave me new hope. The neurologist wanted me to try clonzapam and so I started with 0,5 mg at night. It all seemed very promising and nothing happened (as far as I know). Our relationship took a lift again and we started to get a bit of our faith in each other and our relationship back.
Half a year later we went back to evaluate. We agreed to half the dosage. 2 Weeks later things went wrong again and a major fight followed. Would this be the end of our relationship once and for all? So many arguments and fights we have had about this, so many times we split up, cause we ended up at the same point every time anyway.

Every time we fight about it, it destroys a bit of our relationship and our feelings for each other. Furthermore it’s very frustrating to have the same argument about the same subject over and over again, without even coming to an agreement. There is no grey area where we can compromise, cause how can I compromise when I don’t even know what I’m doing? It’s his word against mine and it affecting every part of our relationship. He's thinking: "What else is she hiding for me?" And I'm tiptoeing around him, because I know he doesn't trust/ believe me. I feel I have to justify everything.

It's not the masturbating itself which he has a problem with, but the way it happens... sneaky. I check if he is asleep or not. I turn over when I'm not sure. I stop when he moves. And when he does share details with me about how things happen, I apparently change my behaviour/methods. Which makes him suspicious again, cause, if I really would be sleeping, why does my behaviour change then?

Of course he's aware of what I all do to get answers, solutions and evidence. That I never gave him any reason not to trust or believe me. He does also see my pain, suffering and frustration. But when it does happen again all of this fades and he finds it extremely hard to believe I am actually asleep. Because of this issue we lived apart, but after our last argument my boyfriend decided to move in with me. He thinks it’s better to deal with it every day, rather then just the weekends/holidays. I do agree, but I stay anxious. Living with him is great, but going to bed at night remains difficult.

I stopped looking for ways to prove to him I’m telling the truth, since it has a contrarily effect on my boyfriend. To him it's like I'm trying to cover something up. I've increased the dosage of clonazepam to 0,5 mg per night again and I'm keeping a check-list every day. On the list I keep score if anything happened the night before, how many milligrams of clonazepam I took, if I dreamed or not, etc. This forces us to pay attention to it and talk about it every day. Communication is essential and that's what pulled us through every argument every time. Without communication and our love for each other we would have split up a long time ago.

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Update (October 2003)
Update (November 2003)

At the end of July my boyfriend and I split up once and for all. After so many fights over the years I couldn't go on anymore and I gave him an ultimatum. He would have to start accepting sexsomnia or our relationship would be over for sure. He had a weekend to ponder about it, while I would be gone. Those days we even had a couple of good and fun conversations on the phone. But when I came home again he told me, straight in my face, he could never accept or believe I really am sleeping. He was 100% convinced that I'm aware of my behaviour.

I was stunned, since I didn't really see this coming after the conversations we had over the weekend. But I just couldn't go on anymore. And for the first time in our relationship I chose me and picked up my bag again and left to stay with friends. Despite everybody being there for me I never felt so alone. I fought so hard. My father interfered as well and asked my ex kindly, but urgent, to stay away for good this time, since he left me so many times before and yet came back every time... fathers love!!

My mum had to endure a lot over the past 4 1/2 years as well. I am her daughter and she had to watch what was all happening to me. In those years she has been my rock! And also this time around she took really good care of me.

A good week later my ex called all of a sudden... if I wanted to meet with him. I doubted big time, but I agreed. We arranged to see each other on neutral grounds. He told me he could accept my sleep sex and asked for a second chance. But that one week had been enough to choose me. I didn't want a partner anymore that would only accept it... I want and deserve someone that believes me. Besides I didn't believe him anymore.

To leave everything behind me for a bit I went on a much deserved holiday to a friend who was working abroad at that moment. The holiday saved me emotionally. I came back with the faith that I'm worth meeting a man that fights for me as hard as I would for him one day. But for now I want to stay alone. Time to boost my self-confidence.

I’m doing good right now and. I have hope for myself again and created new goals for my life. I've decided to go travelling for a year. New people, new surroundings and some time on my own. I’m quite relieved to be single again. No stress anymore. I can go to bed without worrying. I can walk with my head held high again and don't have to avoid eye contact anymore. I don't have to worry about when the next fight will be. Don't have to take medication anymore, which I disliked anyway. But above all I don't have to "prove" anything anymore. The thought that my partner didn’t believe/trust me, destroyed me piece by piece.

Sleep sex will always be a part of my life, but now I have to start accepting my sexsomnia. I didn’t ask for it and so I have to stop feeling a victim, but embrace the sleep sex.

I had to learn my lesson the hard way, but I know now that I never could have convinced my ex-boyfriend. However I will never accept a man in my life again who doesn’t trust, support and believes me for the full 100%. I will never fight this battle again. I will commence to get more attention for this disorder.
There is only one thing I would like to say to fellow sufferers who are not believed... get out of the victim roll, choose yourself, because someone who doesn’t believe you, you will never be able to convince! To be continued...

I would like to thank my dear friends and my parents for their support! Without them I probably wouldn’t have come this far! They help me focus, when I can’t see the road very clearly anymore and for that I’m grateful!

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Update (November 2006)

And before you know it 3 years have passed. Years in which a lot has happened and I’m not the person who wrote the stories above anymore. In April 2004 I left to go travelling. 9 Months I’ve travelled through Australia, 6 weeks in New Zealand, to fly to Asia after. There I experienced the culture of Thailand and Cambodia. Especially the last 2 countries left a deep impression on me and put my life in new perspective.

Sleep sex isn’t a big part of my life anymore and I don’t even know if I still suffer from it or not (I’m still a happy single). During my trip I spent most of my nights in hostels, where I shared my room with 6 to 9 other women. That shows how much sleep sex still influences my life... little. The ignorance and judgement from others doesn’t appeal to me anymore. I do still commence to get more attention for sexsomnia.

Of course I have thought often about my stormy relationship, sleep sex and how I stand/stood in my own life over the past 3 years. And when I read the stories again I wrote above, I sometimes can’t believe that I've been so soft, mild and fair with my ex. That I put up with so much, while he didn’t co-operate at all. That I even protected and parted with him. Till this day I wish him only the best things of life... I can only see how insecure I was myself.

Fortunately there's not much left of that person. Due to my experiences, particularly the year abroad, I have grown out to an independent and secure woman. Living and working abroad have strengthened my creativity, personality, judgement of human nature and communicative skills even more. Taking care of myself and learning to trust my instinct (!!) cleared many of my insecurities. In short…... my life is pretty good right now.

As hard as it has been, I’m happy sleep sex happened to me. I have learned a lot from it and being able to help others now gives me back so much. My thoughts go out to all the people that suffer from sleep sex.

With love.

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