Additional reporting by Chika Ekemezie
If you're fortunate enough to remember your dreams, then you already know they can run the gamut and, sometimes, be weird as hell. But
dreams can also be sexy.
2019 study published in the Journal of Psychology and Sexuality, participants estimated that 18% of their dreams were sex-related. And interestingly, it was found that women were having three times as many sex dreams as women did 50 years ago. Not your mother’s sex dreams, apparently.
But while more people seem to be dreaming about sex, it doesn't necessarily mean those dreams are
actually about sex — even if you keep having sex dreams about the same person.
“Sometimes when you have a dream that you’re having sex with a person that’s confusing to you or it’s not someone that you would want to have sex with, you can look at it more symbolically,” Annie Armstrong Miyao, psychotherapist and licensed marriage and family therapist, tells Bustle. “Dreams are compensatory, you can look at the person as a symbol of something.”
But as for what can cause these sex dreams is a whole other story. Here are five things that can lead to sex dreams, according to experts.
1 Changes In Your Waking Life
Dr. Clare Johnson, lucid dream researcher and author of Llewellyn's Complete Book of Lucid Dreaming, and Dream Therapy, tells Bustle, "Dreams provide us with an excellent arena for expressing ourselves and our unconscious desires. A sexual dream may be a metaphor for new energy we feel rising in some area of our life, such as an urge to change jobs, embark on a voyage, or simply take up a new hobby."
A perfect example of such a change that would induce sex dreams is marriage. Because marriage is such a commitment and such a huge change in someone's life, it's processed in more than a few ways and one such way, for some, are
sex dreams. 2 Lack Of Sex
Although sex dreams aren't necessarily about sex, Dr. Johnson points out that a lack of sex in one's waking life could lead to sexual dreams. The reason for this is to "satisfy physical impulses." In other words, your brain knows when your
body needs a sexual release. 3 Creativity
In some cases, sex dreams may be due to your imagination. "A person may have a sexual dream due to their blossoming creativity, or their desire to expand into a new area in their life," says Dr. Johnson.
It's no secret that
sex and creativity are linked. So it shouldn't be totally surprising that a sex dream might be inspired by new creativity or even the urge to be more creative. 4 Attraction
Well, of course! While any dream expert will attest to the fact that sex dreams don't always equate to sex, if you're attracted to someone in your waking life, they're bound to sneak into your dreams at some point. And, if you're lucky, into
a sex dream to boot.
"Just as people have erotic fantasies about a particular person (or type of person)," says Dr. Johnson, "so we may have sexual dreams in response to a person to whom we feel attracted."
Wondering why you keep having sex dreams about the same person? "When we dream of sex with a particular person, this doesn't necessarily mean we have a crush on them," says Dr. Johnson. "When we unwrap the dream and explore our associations to it, we may find that the person in our dream has certain qualities we would love to have, such as confidence or a sense of adventure. Sexual dreams can point us towards ourselves and what we need at this point in our lives."
Basically, if you keep having sex dreams about the same person, whether it’s your best friend, co-worker, or boss it doesn't mean you want to have sex with them necessarily. It might just mean that you think there's something amazing about them.
There are some dreams that can be caused by an insecurity in some part of your life. For example, according to
Lauri Quinn Loewenberg, a professional dream analyst and author of the book , if you’re having a sex dream where your partner is cheating on you, this may mean that you’re feeling insecure in your relationship. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you have a sixth sense and your partner is cheating, but it may be your brain’s way of telling you that you need to initiate a conversation. Dream On It: Unlock Your Dreams, Change Your Life
Alternatively, if you’re dreaming that you’re
not performing well in the bedroom, it can point to insecurities in another part of your life. "If a man dreams about having erectile dysfunction, it may reflect that he is feeling weak or powerless in another area of his life at the time of the dream... not necessarily a literal reflection of his sexual performance," Dr. Nancy Irwin, PsyD, CHt, a licensed clinical psychologist, previously told Bustle. 7 Self-Love
Dreams involving doing the dirty with someone else can actually point towards feelings of self-love or self-acceptance. For example, if you’re having a gay sex dream, even though you identify as straight, this may “represent a union with aspects of yourself. It is symbolic of self-love, self-acceptance, and compassion” according to the “definitive” dream interpretation site
And of course, if in your dream you’re putting the moves on yourself, that may mean you’re on the ultimate journey to loving yourself. It “represents self-acceptance, as well as self-love. You need to accept and love who you are, even your flaws and shortcomings.”
Because sex dreams can be caused by something that may have nothing to do with sex, just go with it and enjoy them. And, if you're lucky, you might experience an orgasm too — yes,
orgasms while sleeping happen and they are wonderful. Sources & experts: Annie Armstrong Miyao, psychotherapist and licensed marriage and family therapist and Dr. Clare Johnson, lucid dream researcher and author of Llewellyn's Complete Book of Lucid Dreaming, Dream Therapy Lauri Quinn Loewenberg, a professional dream analyst and author of the book Dream On It: Unlock Your Dreams, Change Your Life Dr. Nancy Irwin, PsyD, CHt, a licensed clinical psychologist