What is somnophilia?

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This blog post will explore what Somnophilia is and it’s prevalence.

We will also briefly discuss the development of somnophilia and the various issues surrounding this paraphilia such as legalities, issues related to assault, and how it can be part of a consensual relationship. 

What is somnophilia?

Somnophilia is a form of rare parraphilia and refers to when an individual has a sexual interest that involves sexual acitties with a sleeping indiviudal. 

It involves someone who is turned on or aroused by the idea of having sex with a person who is sleeping or aroused by being the individual who is sleeping and receiving sexual advances from someone else.

Somnophilia is also known as the Sleeping Beauty fetish which was a term first described in 1972 by the psychologists Victor Calef and Edward Weinshel. 

The term is sometimes used synonymously with Somnophilia, but usually involves the act of the the sleeping person waking up during the sexual contact which further intensifies their sexual arousal. 

How common is Somnophilia?

Somnophilia is a rare paraphilia and as of present there are no empirical studies that have examined the prevalence of somnophilia in general population and community populations. 

However, in a 2015 study of an online community of more than 1500 adults that studied the prevalence of 55 different sexual fantasies. Somnophilia was found more in men than in female participants. 

However, for this study, somnophilia was described in terms of assault and non-consensual activity and the results could have been different if it was termed as a consensual act. 

This particular study also lacks in it’s findings because there were also other factors such as being under the influence of alcohol related to the sleeping state which might be the cause of pure results and statistics related to the fantasy that involves only sleep. 

Thus, the prevalence of the fantasy, or paraphilia cannot be determined with accuracy. 

What causes the development of Somnophilia?

There are not enough studies that have been conducted to pinpoint exactly what causes the development of this paraphilia. 

The study conducted by Deehan and Colleagues is perhaps the first study that seeks to understand paraphilia; however, it does not provide insight into the development of the paraphilia.

It does not shine any light on what motivates the sexual fantasy and what leads other peope, to engage in this fantasy. 

However this study did suggest that the developmental roots of somnophilia are diverse much like other paraphilias and that different people can be drawn to different factors surrounding the paraphilia. 

Is somnophisla a form of sexual assault?

The way media describes somnophilia and other paraphilias is through  the negative lens of sexual assualt realted to non-consensual sexual advanaces. 

This particular view of somnophilia arises from two factors that contribute to this view of somnophilia:

First is the fact that somnophilia has behavioral similarities with drug-facilitated sexual assaultt. In one 2016 case study, somnophilia was studied in the context of sexual assult where a somnophilliac would drug women, make their unconcious, to assult the,. 

In other cases, the famed case of Bill Cosby’s sexual assult has also brought in the  “sleep fetish” in mainstream news-based media.

Secondly, the motivation surrounding somnophilia leads to this understanding as highlighted by researchers who categorised Somnophilia as a predetroy form of paraphilia that involves non-consent.

In a 2015 study, researchers also noted that it is quite similar to biastophilia-the sexual interest in nonconsensual sex. 

Limiting somnophilia as a predatory from of sexual attraction and a form of sexual assult can be misleading and can ostracise people who has this form of sexual interest in consensual realtionships. 

It can also cause confusion and issues related to treatment as paraphilias are not necessarily illegal unless acted upon in non-consensual settings. 

Can somnophisla be part of a consensual relationship?

There is a lack of studies and a gap in literature that examines somnophilia within consensual contexts and conseusal relationships however, there is ample evidence related to theis particular expeirnece on online forums where some people described that their sexual arousal occured only in consensual somnophilic contexts.

In terms of being the receiver or the person being asleep, there is also an ample number of online community disclosures where people have expressed their interest in being the passive recipient due to their desire to be in a state of complete surrender. 

Somnophilia can be part of a consensual relationships however, the study by Deehan also highlighted that must of the participants noted that it is difficult to act on this particular paraphilia even within consensual relationships because of apprehension of their partners to role play as well as because they wake up during the act. 

Is somnophilia and necrophilia related?

In the study condutcted by Deehan et al, the researchers also explored whether there is a connection between somnophilia and necrophilia (a sexual interest towards dead people).

The researchers hypothesise that the aspect of having someone who cannot reject or refuse your advances couple be a major motivator of both forms of paraphilia and that somnophilia can be a substitute for necrophilia in some cases. 

The researchers did find a link between the two paraphilias which suggests that psychological factors and motivators that underlie necrophilia could also be part of the motivations of somnophilia which can be extremely important to study further as it gives insight to the origins of somnophilia. 

Is somnophilia part of the BDSM culture?

When we consider Somnophilia in the context of BDSM culture, sleep in this paraphilia is part of what establishes a consensual dominant and submissive dynamic between two consenting partners. 

It can be part fo the BDSM culutre as it allows both recievers and the individual who is the active aprticulant of the paraphilia to act out their fantasies about submission and masochism as well as play out their “forced” to have sex fantasises (i.e., consensual non-consent fantasies).

How to introduce somnophilia into your relationship?

Here is some steps with which you can introduce a consensual somnophilia related role play into your sexual realtionship with your partner:

  • Talk to your partner about it honestly and openly. Communication is key to introducing this particular paraphilia or sexual kink. 
  • Educate them about what it is and what it is not- that it does nto have to be only non-consensual sexual interest and that it can be part of a healthy and consenxual sexual realtionship. 
  • Discuss what kink turns you on and what they are comfortable with- this involves defining your role as the receiver or the active participant as well as defining your role as the dominant and the submissive. 
  • If you decide to go ahead and give it a try, make sure that there are ground rules that are being set. Such as what activities will be performed when you or your partners are asleep- will there be oral involved, anal, or vaginal, should condoms be used etc. 
  • Also make sure that you and your partner are both in the know and consent to the use of drugs in the case that drugs are used to ensure that the receiver does not wake up in the middle of the act.
  • If you find that your partner is not interested in sleep sex, don’t freak out and do not react negatively since everyone has their own boundaries and limits to their sexual exploration. Make sure that they are heard and that their points of views are understood so as to make them feel safe and cared for. 
  • If they have mentioned that they would like to think over it, give them space and time. Don’t bombard them with requests or reminders. Instead trust them to actually think over it and give them time to form their own opinions.


This blog post has explored what Somnophilia is and it’s prevalence.

We have also briefly discussed the development of somnophilia and the various issues surrounding this paraphilia such as legalities, issues related to assault, and how it can be part of a consensual relationship. 

FAQ related to Somnophilia

What is an example of paraphilia?

Examples of specific paraphilias include necrophilia (corpses), scatologia (obscene phone calls), coprophilia (faeces and defecation), and zoophilia (animals).

What paraphilias are illegal?

Paraphilias are not illegal insce it refers to sexual interests however certain paraphilias such as paedophilia, voyeurism and exhibitionism that involves public indeceny, nonconsent, and harm to tohers are illegal if enacted, although it is not illegal to have fantasies or urges.

What causes paraphilia?

The exact causes to the development of paraphilias or paraphilic disorders are not known, however some experts believe that childhood sexual trauma may play a role where as other researchers believe that it could be a result of association where certain objects or situations become sexually arousing if they are frequently associated with pleasurable sexual activity.

How do you treat a fetish?

One of the most effective ways to treat a paraphilia or a fetish is by Cognitive Behavioural Therapy where the therapist will work with the individual to gradually dull the response toward the object that causes the sexual desire. 

 What is a sleeping beauty fetish?

The Sleeping Beauty festish is the suexal interest and arousal towards an indiviudla sleeping and the arousal is further increased by the individual waking up during contact. It was described in 1972 by the psychologists Victor Calef and Edward Weinshel. 


Deehan, E. T., & Bartels, R. M. (2021). Somnophilia: Examining its various forms and associated constructs. Sexual Abuse, 33(2), 200-222.

Moss. A. Somnophilia – The Kink for Sleeping Sex. Volonte. 8th September 2021. Retrieved on 4th january 2022. https://www.lelo.com/blog/somnophilia-sleeping-sex/

Deehan ET, Bartels RM. Somnophilia: Examining Its Various Forms and Associated Constructs. Sex Abuse. 2021 Mar;33(2):200-222. doi: 10.1177/1079063219889060. Epub 2019 Nov 15. PMID: 31729926.

Lehmiller. J. Sex with a Sleeping Person: The Psychology of Somnophilia. Psychologytoday. 12th October 2021. Retrieved on 4th January 2021. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-myths-sex/202110/sex-sleeping-person-the-psychology-somnophilia

Joyal, C. C., Cossette, A., Lapierre, V. (2015). What exactly is an unusual sexual fantasy? The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 12, 328-340. https://doi.org/10.1111/jsm.12734

Overland S. Somnophilia and the sleeping beauty syndrome – the unknown patterns of arousal. J Psychol Clin Psychiatry. 2018;9(4):409?411. DOI: 10.15406/jpcpy.2018.09.00560

Deehan. E. Somnophilia: A “Sleeping Beauty syndrome”? NOTA %th October 2020. Retrieved on 4th january 2022. https://www.nota.co.uk/somnophilia-a-sleeping-beauty-syndrome-elizabeth-deehan/

Lauerma, H. (2016). Somnophilia and sexual abuse using vaginal administration of triazolam. Journal of Forensic Sciences, 61, 862-863. https://doi.org/10.1111/1556-4029.13050

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