Have you ever had a “sleepgasm?” (Photo: Stocksy)
If you thought only men had wet dreams, well, that’s one myth that can be put to bed. Nocturnal emissions, or orgasms that occur during sleep, are not, in fact, just the provenance of men. According to research from the Kinsey Institute, 37 percent of women experience a “sleep orgasm” by the age of 45, and the average women has nocturnal orgasms fairly constantly from adolescence until their 50s, whether or not they are single or married.
The study, which collected data from interviews with more than 11,000 men and women about their sex lives over a period of 25 years, found that 70 percent of women experienced overtly sexual dreams during their lifetime, and five percent even had their first orgasm while dreaming at night. Comparatively, 100 percent of men experienced sexual dreams — explaining perhaps, why the midnight behavior of males has previously received much more attention — and 13 percent reported that their first ejaculation occurred during sleep.
But ladies: If it hasn’t happened to you yet, that doesn’t mean that it won’t. The odds of having a “sleepgasm” actually increase as you enter middle age, with the highest incidents of nocturnal orgasms for women occurring in their 40s and 50s. Men, on the other hand, had better enjoy their unconscious nocturnal dalliances while they last: the wet dreamsthat — sometimes humorously — dominate their adolescence are shown to dramatically decline by their 30s. And when it comes to sexual satisfaction in their waking life, just 50 percent of women orgasm regularly during marital sex, while a tenth said they had yet to climax.
All of which makes quite logical sense considering that female orgasms — or lack thereof — are often intrinsically psychological in nature. “Orgasm generally gets easier with age and experience, and when women have sex with regular partners who they feel care about them,“ Dr. Debby Herbenick, an associate professor at Indiana University, Kinsey Institute researcher, and author of The Coregasm Workout, explained to Broadly. “Thus we see higher rates of orgasm among those in their mid to late 20s, 30s, and 40s.”
What stops women from successfully orgasming earlier? Herbenick cites a number of factors, “Including not having enough information about how to have an orgasm, an uncaring partner, or one who doesn’t prioritize her partner, not giving it enough time (such as during masturbation or oral sex), body image concerns, and so on.“ But thankfully, difficulty achieving orgasm while awake (let us help you with that) doesn’t automatically negate the chances of doing so while asleep, because, as Barry R. Komisaruk, Beverly Whipple, and Sara Nasserzadeh explain in The Orgasm Answer Guide, “orgasms while sleeping are not, in fact, the result of genital stimulation, but instead are created in the brain.” (Oh, our clever little pleasure-seeking brains, how you do delightfully surprise us sometimes.
All of which means that if you’d like to increase your odds of tucking in to a sweet “sleepgasm” tonight, there are a few things that might just be worth a go. First, try sleeping on your stomach. According to research from Shue Yan University in Hong Kong, dozing off face down makes you more likely to have erotic dreams, in part because it makes you more likely to get a bit short of breath.
And while Herbenick cautions that the lack of large scale or systematic studies of women and sleep orgasms versus women and orgasms from masturbation, partner sex, or exercise leave no one able to offer certain solutions, some enterprising females who have tried to induce sexy dreams themselves do have advice to share: both The Debrief’s Daisy Buchanan and Broadly’s Stevie Martin recommend going to sleep extremely tired, and watching your timing — . both cite a sudden dearth of sexual encounters following a few good orgasms as likely to help your chances for sweet dreams, so to speak.
Finally, and perhaps most obviously, try thinking sexual thoughts as you’re drifting off to dreamland. If nothing else, it just might put you to sleep with a smile on your face.