Read this and then go back to bed.
We’ve all probably had a few recurring dreams like being late for something, not being prepared for a test, or our teeth falling out. They can represent an underlying source of stress that we don’t acknowledge while we’re awake. The emotional brain trumps the more objective, cognitive brain, and it just so happens that our emotional brains are more active when we sleep.
The study of dreams is not new, and a lot of the ways we think about dreams now can be attributed to Sigmund Freud’s 1899 book The Interpretation of Dreams, in which the psychoanalyst argued that interpreting dreams gives people a good look at their unconscious mind.
Now, that doesn’t mean that every single dream you have is inherently sexual—and it also doesn’t mean that every dream that includes sex or some kind of intimacy means that you’re harboring feelings of lust for a specific person. Dream meanings can span pretty widely and may vary from person to person. But if you’re interested in cracking some hidden codes to your unconscious mind, these sex dreams may hold the key to a deeper meaning.
If a dream stays with you, you may want to think about it further. The average person has four to six dreams each night, so the ones that stick with you may feel pretty significant. Consider keeping a dream journal to help you assess any stresses or feelings that may have arisen with your dreams. Ultimately, sex dreams are less literal than they may seem at first, but the way you interpret them can reveal a lot about what you’re going through. Here’s what a few common sex dreams may mean.
The Co-Worker Sex Dream
Let’s set the scene: someone you haven’t given a second thought to—or someone you might even despise—turns up in your dream, and things start to get…a little steamy. It can make going to work extra weird. Sound familiar? It turns out that 84 percent of people have had a sex dream about someone they work with. And while sleeping with a co-worker is frowned upon by HR, sleep experts say these dreams could point to our underlying anxieties, without actually meaning that we want to get it on with Taylor in accounting.
The Figure of Authority Dream
Okay, but what if your co-worker's dream isn’t about any co-worker, but your boss? Or your professor? This one’s pretty straightforward: If you’re imagining yourself getting it on with a figure of authority, you’re most likely seeking their approval. Alternatively, it could be an indicator that you’re starting to see yourself in a more authoritative light. Either way, just try not to feel too awkward in your next 1:1. The sex dream just indicates that you’ve reached a good forward momentum with your career.
The Ex Sex Dream
Occasionally, an ex will show up completely unannounced and have a starring role in a dream. Which makes us wonder if it’s a sign that we should rethink our breakup. But most likely, your pesky subconscious has been triggered by something that reminds you of them—whether it’s a birthday, an anniversary, or a song you both loved. If they begin occupying your thoughts while you’re awake, it might be time to figure out why.
The Celebrity Sex Dream
Having a sex dream that involves a celebrity is exciting and pretty common. It makes sense—this person is probably very attractive, and you may have even fantasized about them when you’re awake. So when they show up during a dream—as a sexual partner, no less – it can feel very real. Most often, though, dreams about having sex with someone famous reflect our need to feel special, important and have people admire us.
The "I Didn't See That One Coming" Sex Dream
Having a dream about someone other than your sexual orientation might throw you for a loop. But it turns out this is also very common. Sex therapist Vanessa Martin points out that dreams and fantasies don’t necessarily have anything to do with reality. Sometimes “our brains like to wander off,” she says. And for women, these types of dreams are more likely to happen during a specific time in their cycles. Martin also says that being open to the idea of sexual exploration is never a bad idea—especially if done safely—so if that’s something that piques interest or desire, go for it.
The “Cheating” Dream
If you’re dreaming about hooking up with someone other than your partner, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you want to cheat on them. It could signal a subconscious desire for a big change. Studies have shown that it’s possible to orgasm while we dream about sex—so maybe, you just need to revive a spark.
The Sex in a Public Place Dream
Exhibitionism is a fairly normal sexual fantasy, so if you dream about having sex in public, there’s a fair chance it is a purely sexual dream. But it can also be a sign that you’re exposing yourself in other ways, according to psychologist Becky Spelman. An exhibitionist dream may mean that you’re looking to shock others and seeking attention in ways that may not be so helpful to you in the long run. If you dream about having sex publicly in a place that’s meaningful to you in some way—school or work, for example—your feelings may be tied to that location specifically.
The Group Sex Dream
Consider the orgy: A sexual experience that has a lot of excitement, a lot of moving parts, and ultimately may come along with some confusion. There’s a reason why experts say a dream that involves group sex may relate to some inner feeling of being overwhelmed. That doesn’t have to relate to your love life, either: It could just be a symbol that points out that you’re juggling a lot at the moment. Consider an orgy dream a cue that it’s time to slow down.