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Sexual Offences & Sexsomnia (Sex while you sleep)

View profile for Helen Johnson
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WHAT IS SEXSOMNIA? 

Sexsomnia is sexual behaviour while asleep. It is recognised in both sleep disorder and psychiatric classifications. Sexsomnia occurs when the brain is disassociated or partially disassociated and covers a wide range of sexual behaviours. It occurs when someone is deeply asleep.

IS IT A DEFENCE TO RAPE IF IT HAPPENS WHEN YOU ARE ASLEEP?

It could be a defence to rape or other sexual offences if it happens when you are asleep and an expert agrees that the circumstances support it being an episode of sexsomnia.

WHO MIGHT EXPERIENCE SEXSOMNIA?

An episode of sexsomnia may occur in someone who has a pattern of disrupted sleep, such as sleep walking, chronic insomnia or other sleep disorders. However, it is possible for it to occur without examples of previously disrupted sleep or it may be that the disrupted sleep pattern has gone unnoticed until, for example, that person has to share a bed with another.

Someone who sleeps deeply “dead to the world” may be more likely to suffer an episode of sexsomnia as it occurs during deep sleep.

WHAT MIGHT TRIGGER SEXSOMNIA?

Proximity can be a trigger for sexsomnia, particularly if it that proximity was unexpected. Being chronically deprived of sleep may also play a part.

DRINK AND SEXSOMNIA

Drink is not something which ordinarily has an impact upon sexsomnia and drunken sexual behaviour is a very different thing.

IS SOMEONE EXPERIENCING SEXSOMNIA CONCIOUS?

Whilst they appear conscious, like a sleep walker, they are not aware of what they are doing and would have no memory of the event.

A SLEEP DISORDER EXPERT

In order to pursue this unusual defence it is important to engage a sleep expert to review the evidence and comment on whether this might have been an episode of sexsomnia.

Johnson Astills have successfully defended a man charged with rape using this defence. Our crimeteam@johnsonastills.com provides expert advice and representation for those accused of or charged with sexual offences. Please email us or call on 01162554855.