Sex Dreams: Are They What They Seem?

Last night I dreamed that I was seeing a therapist in a room full of robots reminiscent of gigantic Barbies with bad hair. As I told the therapist what I’d been feeling, she began tossing out scenarios she presumed I’d been experiencing. They all involved sex. The creepy Barbie-bots echoed her words then acted each scenario out while I stood there, entranced by the eroti-charades.

Totally cliché. I know!

Maybe not. But most everyone has sexual dreams on occasion, ranging from sizzling fantasies involving a partner, crush or celeb, to less exciting installments involving blasé sex or quirky characters. Women and men are both known to dream of sex by day and night, climax amid sleep and wake up hot, bothered and ready. (Rarr!)

August McLaughlin Girl Boner sex dreams

While dream analysis remains controversial, many psychologists believe that the events in dreams and, more importantly, how we feel about and describe them, can reveal a great deal about our emotional lives. If I’d been scared of the Barbie-bots in my dream, for example, that fear might reflect anxiety in my daily life—related or unrelated to sex. I was more or less studying what was happening—mentally exploring and intrigued. That could describe most any day in my life.

It’s difficult to argue that the significance of dreams varies significantly between individuals. That said, numerous psychological experts have observed some generalities.

Common Sex Dreams, Decoded

In a recent Cosmo feature Patricia Garfield, PhD, an internationally recognized authority on dreams and author of Creative Dreaming, analyzed common sexual dreams. Here are a few highlights:

The dream: You’re getting hot and heavy with your boss or best pal.

Garfield’s interpretation: “You probably admire a quality that person possesses and want to develop it within yourself. Maybe you crave the head honcho’s success or wish you had your friend’s confidence.”

The dream: Sex with one of Hollywood’s hottest.

Garfield’s interpretation: “To singles, it’s a reminder that amazing prospects are out there, and it also clues you in to the kind of man you want. If you’re already one half of a twosome, it may point to a yearning for a trait your guy lacks or—if you’re blissfully content—affirm you’ve scored with a star-quality man.”

The dream: Flying. (It may be more sex-geared than you think…)

Garfield’s interpretation: “The freewheeling rush you get from whizzing through the air could be a mental celebration of great sex. The thrilling sensations in the dream are similar to the high you experience when you climax.” If you haven’t had a hot hookup lately, the aerial illusions may relate to an intense romantic encounter, she added, such as a first date gone right or hearing the L-word from your partner for the first time.

5 Facts About Frisky Dreams

1. The deeper the sleep, the saucier our dreams will likely be. When we’re in the rapid eye movement (REM) sleep cycle, our nervous system fires up, much the way it does when we’re sexually aroused. These physiological changes make way for erotic dreams, says Kelly Bulkeley, PhD, a dream researcher at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California.

2. We’re most likely to recall sex dreams when we wake up suddenly, according to a recent study published in Frontiers in Psychology. This is because sudden wakefulness stimulates alpha waves in the brain, which are associated with dream recall. So if you want to recall more sexy dreams, an alarm clock may help. (Frequent wakers are also more likely to recall dreams than people who snooze through the night, according to the study.)

3. Wet dreams affect many females. Few people realize that girls are prone to nocturnal climaxes during puberty. Sexuality educator and relationships expert Laura Berman, PhD recommends that parents discuss the possibility of wet dreams with pre-pubescent children (particularly girls), so that they understand that such dreams are perfectly normal and healthy if or when they arise.

4. Homosexual dreams are common, regardless of our sexual orientation. They’re healthy and normal, and could represent a variety of scenarios, say numerous dream analysts, from having a rift with a friend of the same gender to learning to embrace parts of ourselves we’ve previously been averse to. Other relatively common dreams involve sex with a stranger, having weird genitalia and getting busy with a friend’s partner.

5. Sleeping positions can cause or deter sexual dreams. A study conducted at Hong Kong Shue Yan University in 2012 showed that of 670 people surveyed, those who slept facedown had significantly more sex-related dreams than those who didn’t. Researchers speculated that genital-to-bed contact increases the likelihood of sex dreams. I imagine sleeping naked and sexy thoughts before bed also help.

I told you mine… Now tell me yours! Any sexual dreams you’re comfortable sharing? Would you like me and other readers to take a (for fun) stab at analyzing?? What do you WISH you’d dream? I love hearing your respectful thoughts! ♥

Psst! I’m in NYC today for the North American World Sexual Health Day celebration. For more #GirlBoner fun, join me on Facebook and Twitter for updates.

Leave a comment


  1. I’ll be bold! I’ve had two wet dreams – can’t remember the content now, but I definitely remember the sensation! Given that I’m an adult (and can change my sheets with no one asking questions), I say bring ’em on.

  2. I agree with everything you said here.

    But you didn’t ask for agreement. You asked for a dream I’ve had so let’s set that up. A while back I caught up to J from college. Back then I really did have a thing for J (To me she has always been drop dead gorgeous Chilean woman. Always dressed in blouses and skirts) but truth be told, she was a nice responsible, devout Mormon girl and well I was considered a “professional bad influence” by most of the people in band. So as much as we were friendly, we ran in entirely different circles.

    So we reconnected briefly a few years back. I wasn’t as bad a partier I was doing comedy at open mics and J was finishing he Music PhD. How she is not married is beyond me because she still looks like she’s 20 something . I am pretty sure the guys in Orange County are blind. Still great friends but that is about where it would pretty much end. Politically and religion not even close to the same page. There has always been a little sexual tension between us but out of respect or neglect (you choose) we never acted on it.

    So one night I went to sleep and I dreamt I had driven from my house in Pasadena to In-n-Out in Mission Viejo. I As I got out of my truck she got out of her car dressed in a white blouse and pencil skirt. I noticed her and without a second thought, I walk over and kiss her like a long lost lover. J wraps her arms around my neck, getting on her toes. Her scent is intoxicating as I lift her off her feet.

    The next part I remembered we are heading through a condo door, clothes are loose. J’s blouse is open. My shirt, unbuttoned and the kisses and caresses haven’t let up. I get my hands on the zipper for J’s skirt and unzip it revealing an incredible panty covered rear. The scene is lust fueled. Animal. As we fall on the couch I wake up, still breathing hard. Still very aroused.

    • That is some story, Russell! Have you ever considered writing erotic? Just…wondering. 😉 There’s something about that unrequited love, or sexual tension, as it were here, that remains incredibly tantalizing. Dream on, brother!

  3. More than not, I frequently have dreams that are borderline acid trips, yet I become aroused by them…? Kind of weird, right. Mathair says it’s my mind switched on by creativity, but I’m curious to know what you think. It seems a little bizarre to feel aroused when I’m dressed in Alice in Wonderland getup, walking on the ceiling of my house towards a guy with Brad Pitt’s body, wearing an apron and a Rabbit mask while juggling apples. (This is an actual dream I had not too long ago.) Yeah, I was hesitant about putting it because I worry sometimes that I might be going crazy. LOL

    • As the cat said, “Oh, you can’t help that. We’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”

    • As far as your dream, there is nothing wrong with having a surreal dream like that. The mind gives you several images at a time when you are asleep. Some come together in a crystalized thought. Others come in a free flow stream. But what do you think in your dream was the arousing part? Was it your outfit? Was it the guy with the apron and rabbit mask? Any other sights or sounds you can remember?

      • Well, the outfit definitely made me feel sexy and the guy was a big factor, but the only thing I could hear was the sound of a ceiling fan and the only smell was the fresh green apples he was juggling.

      • It’s amazing how a sound or a smell are triggers in dreams. I’m betting that the green apple scent was very sharp.

    • I don’t find that weird at all! Creative types tend to be particularly sexual (a topic for a future post :)), and your creativity seeping into your dreams makes total sense to me. (I’ve had similar dreams—not sure if that makes you feel any better. LOL) Also, highly sensitive folks are prone to lucid dreams, which sounds a bit like what you’re having.

      Great points, Russ!

  4. laurie27wsmith

     /  September 9, 2013

    Believe it or not! When I was married to my first wife sex dreams to climax were common. In the past ten years with my Love I still have the occasional sex dream but they invariably end with me saying to the other person, I’m sorry but I’m in love with my wife and can’t do it. Or my wife is nearby. Crazy eh?

  5. The post title had “sex” in it, ergo here I am. Interesting post. I’ve been flying in literally every dream I remember, lately. I fly as a way to escape something chasing me (analysis: I subconsciously desire sex as a way to resolve guilt caused by procrastination). It happens if I’m just cruising around like a tourist (analysis: my subconscious is a casual sex horndog). Apparently flying is just how I get around the dreamscape now. I really like it. So much more efficient than slogging through mud like I used to usually do in my dreams. Hmm, maybe the flying has an alternative explanation: I recently got a spiritual life. The timing would add up.

  6. You know, now that you mention it…Sex dreams are pretty much the only ones I remember these days (unless they’re really strange). Unfortunately, my dream memory usually only lasts about a day, so they don’t tend to stick unless I write them down.

    Oddly enough, the last “sex” dream I wrote had Scott Speedman in it…in uniform…kind of like in the tv show Last Resort. I woke up knowing my subconscious was telling me that he needed to be a character in some future manuscript…and that he looked sexy in a uniform.

  7. Raani York

     /  September 14, 2013

    I love your post, August. When I read that people sleeping “face down” are having more sexually related dreams (and sleeping without anything on and having sexy thoughts do help) I all of a sudden realized what in all the world is happening… and there I was, having no clue, reading Freud didn’t help and I thought I was nuts!!
    I’m in a very happy relationship for quite a while now – and my sexy dreams do include my boyfriend 99.9%.
    Worst I’ve ever remembered dreaming made me wake up, screaming in fear and disgust…
    In my dream I had sex with Kid Rock. (I know… I still shudder when thinking back… *sigh)
    I’m grateful it’s not a returning dream. 🙂

    • LOL Kid Rock? I love it. Did he serenade you all the while? I once dreamed I had sex with Adam Lambert. Very hot, even though I knew, if in dreamland, that there was very little chance he was into me. 🙂 So glad you found some of the insight here helpful, Raani!

      • Raani York

         /  September 16, 2013

        (Believe me… there wasn’t anything good about this dream… *sigh* Kid Rock was a disaster in bed… but don’t tell anyone… *whisper*)
        Adam Lambert, hm? I wonder what Freud would say to him? LOL
        Sending you hugs, August!!!

  8. writtenbyafloridian

     /  September 15, 2013

    I think I have sex in all of my dreams–and I seem unable to cum in them–not sure what that is about? Now, that I try to think about them, all I can really remember from my sex dreams is the sex–good or bad; her body(I’ve only had a handful of homosexual sex dreams, so ‘his’ seems sort of irrelevant) and so on. I don’t remember the context though, just the sex.

    Btw, thanks for the like on my essay.


    • Interesting! I’m no dream analysis expert, but I wonder if you feel withheld or afraid of not reaching your potential in some area of passion in your life. (Okay, that’s probably what just what it would mean for me. LOL) Thanks so much for chiming in! (And nicely done on your essay. :))

      • writtenbyafloridian

         /  September 16, 2013

        I think you may have a point here. I am in a state of perpetual insecurity about not measuring up academically, so maybe that is it. Who knows lol?


  9. I need to sleep more. I’m not really being sarcastic.

  10. These days all I dream about is getting a good night’s sleep!
    As for your work here, August, all I can say is congratulations on another winning piece!

    • Aw, thanks! I hope you do get that sleep. It’s important for every aspect of our lives, including sex! 🙂 (And it’s many writers’ weak spot, that’s for sure…)

  11. Joseph Delaney

     /  September 23, 2013

    I love sexual dreams of people that I have worked with having it on a swing making love

  1. Sex Dreams: Are They What They Seem? | Women: R...

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