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What Do Sex Dreams Mean?

Danielle Pacheco

Written by

Danielle Pacheco, Staff Writer

Heather Wright

Medically Reviewed by

Heather Wright, Pathologist

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Dreams have long been the center of psychological study and fascination. Dreams can be soothing, comforting, frightening, or confusing. They can also affect your sleep.

We spend an average of two hours a night dreaming but very rarely remember the dreams that we have. While most dreams occur during the rapid eye movement (REM) sleep stage, they can occur during any stage of the sleep cycle.

While adults dream fairly frequently, not everyone experiences sex dreams. Scienctific research stops short of exploring specific sex dreams, but many therapists and psychologists have their own theories about the meaning of sex dreams.

Why Do I Have Sex Dreams?

Although the neurological aspects of dreams are fairly well-researched, less research has been conducted to explore the content and meaning of various types of dreams. That said, there are many theories about the role dreams play in the human psyche. Some theorists believe that dreams allow us to act out potential scenarios or help our brain map and store memories. Other researchers suggest that dreams are a way to cope with traumatic or stressful events.

Are Sex Dreams Normal?

Sex dreams are considered normal. They are also quite common. More than 70% of people report experiencing a sex dream at least once in their life.  Even if the content of the dream is unnerving — for example, a dream of sleeping with your boss or cheating on your partner — it doesn’t necessarily mean that something is wrong. In fact, most people dream of those that they recognize, so it is normal to have dreams about people you interact with frequently.

What Do Sex Dreams Mean?

Unfortunately, there’s limited research on what sex dreams mean.  Dream meaning can be difficult to study because dreams are subjective to the person experiencing them, and they are not always easy to remember upon waking.

Psychologists and researchers have theorized about sex dreams since Sigmund Freud in the early 19th century. Freud believed that dreams were the conscious and subconscious parts of the mind organizing themselves during sleep. While there is no clear answers on what sex dreams mean, there are a few common theories.


Common Sex Dreams

Although everyone experiences dreaming differently, there are a few themes that are commonly present in sex dreams.

Sex With an Ex-Partner

It is common for those who are in a relationship to dream about current or former partners. These types of dreams may be part of processing a current relationship or grieving a past one. Single people who are seeking a relationship are less likely to dream of people they have dated.

Sex With a Stranger

Dreaming about sex with a stranger may simply be a sign of a healthy libido and normal sexual arousal. If you or a partner dreams of sleeping with a stranger, it is not necessarily indicative of cheating or a desire to cheat.

Cheating on Your Partner

While dreams that include infidelity may not be a direct reflection of your waking life, they could correspond to feelings of jealousy or a lack of intimacy in your current relationship. It may be helpful to discuss potential concerns with your partner.

Sex With an Authority Figure

Whether you dream of your professor or your boss, a sex dream about a person in authority over you may indicate that you are seeking approval from someone in charge.

Understanding Your Dreams

Analyzing your dreams can offer insight into your everyday life. Journaling about your dreams may help you recognize patterns and process different emotions.

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About Our Editorial Team

Danielle Pacheco

Staff Writer

Danielle writes in-depth articles about sleep solutions and holds a psychology degree from the University of British Columbia.

Heather Wright



Dr. Wright, M.D., is an Anatomic and Clinical Pathologist with a focus on hematopathology. She has a decade of experience in the study of disease.


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