When you think of the phrase “wet dream,” you might picture a teenage boy trying to hide his stained sheets from his mom. You might know that while wet dreams are more common among teenagers, adults with penises can certainly get them, too. But did you know that people with vaginas can also orgasm in their sleep? That’s right: everyone can get wet dreams.
“Contrary to popular belief, wet dreams are not just for adolescent boys,” SKYN Condoms Sex & Intimacy Expert and host of Sex With Emily, Dr. Emily Morse, tells Refinery29. “During REM, if your dream is hot enough, the blood flow to your vagina will increase and can lead to your very own nocturnal orgasm. This is nothing new, and certainly isn’t uncommon. During his research, [famous sexologist and inventor of the Kinsey Scale] Dr. Alfred Kinsey found that almost 40% of women had experienced at least one wet dream, and that was back in 1953!”
Another study, this one from 1986, found similar results: 37% of cis women surveyed had experienced a sleep orgasm at least once in their lives. Additionally, 30% of the women surveyed had had at least one sleep orgasm in the past year. As for cis men? Research suggests that around 83% of them experience wet dreams.
The REM cycle of sleep can increase the blood flow to your genitals, which can mean you get turned on and even orgasm while you're asleep. If you move around in your sleep, accidental clitoral stimulation might help you orgasm, but the increased blood flow can be enough on its own. As for the “wet” part — while people with penises ejaculate during a wet dream, people with vaginas experience increased lubrication.
Interestingly, some people find it much easier to orgasm in their dreams than while awake. “I’ve never orgasmed during sex, but it happens in my sleep almost every other week,” one woman who experiences sleep orgasms previously told Refinery29. “But usually there are no sexy dreams, so I have no idea what causes it. I get quite anxious during real-life sex, so maybe it’s something to do with being relaxed.”
If you experience sleep orgasms, hopefully you’re enjoying them (especially if they're combined with sexy dreams). But if you’d like to prevent them, you can try avoiding thinking sexy thoughts before bed (so no reading erotica or watching porn to put yourself to sleep) and skip sleeping on your stomach, which can put pressure on your clitoris. If you’d like to try to have a sleep orgasm, do exactly the opposite: lie on your stomach and try to have a sexual fantasy as you’re falling asleep.