Yep, ladies can have wet dreams, too, and they’re not limited to puberty. A 1986 study in the Journal of Sex Research found that 37% of women in their study had experienced one — and that was just a small sample of college women… in the 80s.
Wet dreams are way more common during puberty and adolescence, before a guy is regularly masturbating or having sex, Madeleine Castellanos, M.D., sex therapist and author of Wanting To Want, tells BuzzFeed Life. But it’s possible — yet unlikely — than it can happen to older guys, too.
This is when a guy actually ejaculates in his sleep. There’s not a ton of research on exactly how common it is, but most men can anecdotally tell you that this is definitely a thing (at least during puberty). A 1982 study in the Journal of Sex Education and Therapy noted that it’s a sex topic that’s not really discussed or understood all that much.
“I’ve had women in my practice who were not able to have orgasms with a partner or with masturbation but have had them in their sleep,” says Castellanos. Think about it: Your sex dreams are usually free of the distractions, stress, and anxiety that can typically interfere with an orgasm. It’s just you, your mind, and your body making sweet, sweet love… to yourself.
More blood flow to the vagina and penis usually happens during this sleep stage, when you do most of your dreaming.
Research shows that men can have multiple erections over the course of a night — sometimes full boners and sometimes just partial hard-ons, says Castellanos. This doesn’t necessarily mean you’re having sex dreams all night long, just that penile blood flow goes up and down while you’re sleeping.
In case you haven’t noticed, most of these studies are pretty dated with super-small sample sizes. Because, obviously. Anyone who’s ever had a sleep orgasm knows that these things are damn unpredictable, so this isn’t really something that’s easy to study in a lab.
Maybe you have a sex dream first, then you experience more blood flow to erectile tissues, and then comes an erection or an orgasm. OR it could be the other way around: The increased blood flow actually prompts a sex dream, which then sometimes brings on an orgasm. Again, researchers aren’t entirely sure what’s going on. But even if you wake up mid-orgasm and can’t remember having a sex dream, you probably had one, says Castellanos.
A 2012 study in the journal Dreaming found that sleeping on your stomach is associated with having more intense dreams, like those about sex, being tied up, being unable to breathe, etc. It makes sense, Castellanos says, since this position provides more contact between your bed and your penis/clitoris/mons pubis, which might turn you on.
“It’s like a gift from your brain,” says Castellanos. It’s just a sign that your libido and your erotic fantasies are all in working order. You should never feel guilty or weird about them, even if the accompanying sex dream was… surprising, says Castellanos. Dreams are symbolic — they don’t necessarily mean you definitelywant to sleep with your ex, your coworker, or that hippie guy at the deli.
Just like conscious orgasms, they’ll happen if/when they happen, but forcing them probably won’t help. You can try to think ~sexy thoughts~ before bed, sleep on your stomach, or fall asleep to your sex playlist, but there’s really no way to prompt a sleep orgasm. Don’t stress about it, let it come to you. And if you do experience it, Castellanos has one piece of advice: “Celebrate every one.”
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