What causes sex dreams? Some research suggests it might have to do with the position you go to sleep in. The golden position that may be linked to more sex dreams? Sleeping on your stomach. 

What causes sex dreams.

Sex dreams are exceedingly common. A 2012 study from the University of Montreal found that 78% of people report having had a sex dream at some point in their lives. Another study from the Kinsey Institute found that both men and women have sex dreams—and even sleep orgasms. Some 37% of the women surveyed reported having previously had an orgasm during their sleep. Yes, nocturnal emissions don’t discriminate.

A 2012 study in the journal Dreaming found sleeping on one’s stomach is linked to having sex dreams. While only 5% of participants reported sleeping on their stomachs as their dominant position, they were far more likely to report having sexual dreams or dreams about being naked.

The study authors hypothesize that when you’re lying on your stomach, your genitals are more likely to be activated. Having them pressed against the bed can cause physical stimulation and therefore erotic subconscious thoughts. Professional dream analyst Lauri Loewenberg thinks that this hypothesis has merit: “It is much easier to subconsciously imagine another body pressed up against you due to the front of the body being pressed up against the mattress,” she tells health news.

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Why people have sex dreams.

Sleeping position is probably just one factor in dream content, but whether or not you experience an erotic dream is likely due to a host of other elements. There is no easy way to pinpoint exactly why we have the dreams that we do, but what most experts agree on is that dreams are affected by both external factors (like temperature, sleeping position, a partner snoring, etc.) and internal factors (such as stress, anxiety, thoughts about the day, etc.)

“What we see in our dreams can depend on many external factors. For example, some people say they were dreaming of arctic landscapes when they felt the cold wind with their feet,” adult sleep coach Eva Cohen tells health news.

Cohen says that erotic dreams are particularly interesting because they don’t reflect your current reality. Sex dreams are “mostly not linked to your actual sex drive and intimate relationships in real life. Simply speaking, you can have a great sexual life and still dream about the affair with your boss,” she says. That means if you’ve had a disturbing dream about hooking up with your ex, don’t worry. It doesn’t mean you want him back. Your imagination is just super colorful and capable of whipping up all kinds of odd things.

Sex dreams are multilevel ways for our subconscious to reveal our deepest fears and desires. These fears and desires most likely have nothing to do with actual sex. “For example, the above-mentioned sex affair with the boss may mean that you want to get a career lift but aren’t ready to speak about it yet.”

If you have an erotic dream about someone, it’s likely you’ve connected with that person in some psychological way. “Dreaming of having sex with your best friend or brother-in-law, for example, doesn’t mean you desire them but that you may have recently had a meaningful conversation where you really connected,” says Loewenberg.

You can’t really control your dreams.

Cohen says sex dreams aren’t exclusive to lying one’s stomach. Sleeping on your side might work, too. “When we cross our legs while sleeping on the side, we can also stimulate [the genitals],” she says. “This makes me think that your sleeping position isn’t the defining factor for having sex dreams.”

Our dreams are likely not something we can control. So, don’t beat yourself up for dreaming about a threesome with your work spouse and the UPS guy. Go forth and let your subconscious do its thing.

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