|Picture by Elena Kalis|
Although the condition known as “sexsomnia” sounds funny, for the couple shown in the documentary it is no laughing matter. Jim is described by his wife Joanna as “gentle and loving”. Yet very often, at some point during sleep, Jim begins touching Joanna. Despite her repeated attempts to push him away, Jim often persists to the point where she has to leave the bedroom.
In the morning Jim remembers nothing. After watching a video of his nocturnal behaviour, he is shocked by his actions and how aggressive he becomes. This night-time activity has turned into a nightmare and has begun to affect their marriage.
100,000 people in the UK are thought to suffer from “sexsomnia”, yet it does not seem to be a recognized mental condition by many psychologists. Over the past few years, several attacks, which took place while the offenders were asleep, have been presented in court; so far, they have been declared not guilty because they were not conscious.
Other extraordinary cases of unconscious night-time activity include a woman who can paint masterpieces, and a man who can’t stop making (and eating) cakes.
Some therapists believe that these types of sleep activities may often be the result of childhood trauma. Night activities are often something many people experience as children and later grow out of, but for one in ten people the restlessness continues.
Should these people be held responsible for their actions? Or encouraged to have therapy to deal with past problems when they are awake? One can stop drinking and therefore prevent the inevitable consequences, but it is clearly impossible to stop sleeping.