Sexual dreams can be complex, as they can cover such a wide range of emotions and situations. They can make us wake up shuddering with pleasure or disgust. They can bring to light happy memories or traumas. They can reveal to us the state of our relationships with others, and with our own body. Sexual dreams can be unwrapped through Lucid Dreamplay techniques, and if we want more sexual dreams, all we have to do is ask for them by incubating a dream.

A Guide to Sex Dreams

Lucid sex dreams. When you become lucid in a dream, you can guide and shape the dream if you want to. Many lucid dreamers experiment with sexual encounters in their dreams. The advantage of a lucid dream is that you can recall your desire for dream sex as soon as you recognise that you are dreaming, and then put it into action by a) calming your emotions so that the dream scene remains stable and you don’t wake up; b) announcing your intention to have dream sex, and c) fully expecting the perfect dream lover to come along.

Expectation is important in lucid dreams: when you fully expect your own idea of a sex-god or goddess to appear in the dream and want to have sex with you, it is much more likely to happen then if you half-heartedly hope that someone sexy might happen along in the dream. Spending time visualising your ideal dream sex scenario before going to sleep can help it to become a reality in both non-lucid and lucid dreams.

Lucid sex dreams are impossible unless the dream is stable. One way to train yourself to have long, stable lucid dreams is by practising yoga nidra, an ancient form of meditation. In this state, you balance on the cusp of sleep and can set strong intentions, rehearse your desired lucid dream goal, and get good at remaining conscious while your body sleeps. These guided yoga nidra journeys for lucid dreaming are designed to take you directly into a wake-induced lucid dream (WILD).

Spiritual sexual dreams. Sexual energy in dreams can lead to profound spiritual experiences. In a lucid dream, clinical psychologist Patricia Garfield was twirling around on a trapeze bar when suddenly she plunged downwards, burst into orgasm, and dissolved into brilliant beauty and light. This dream helped her understand that sexual arousal can show us the strength of our own life force and even lead to mystical experiences.

Dreaming to release pent-up sexual desire. Dreams offer us a safe outlet for brimming-over sexual desire. Sexual dreams might be compensating for a dry period in our sex life, or they might indicate a general desire for intimacy or emotional love. Studies have shown that women have more sex dreams around the time of ovulation, which makes perfect biological sense, as this is the best time to get pregnant. Sex dreams may therefore have no particular ‘meaning.’ They may simply be an overflow of sexual energy.

A sex dream may not be about sex. If you dream of having sex with a stranger, this may symbolise that a new aspect of yourself is emerging, or that you are open to something new and unknown. The inability to complete sex in a dream, whether due to interruptions or impotence, could reflect a waking life situation where you feel unable to complete something. Many people dream of having sex with people who they actually know, and often they find this bewildering, embarrassing, or shameful. But from a psychological point of view, dreaming of having sex with someone you know does not necessarily mean you want to have sex with them in waking life. It might mean that you feel attracted to a certain quality they have. Try asking yourself: What do I admire about this person?

Sexual energy is a very alive, active energy. Once you have identified the wished-for quality that this energy is focusing on, you can begin to actively incorporate it into your self-perception and develop it. By acting on this particular quality, you take a first step towards owning it.

Emotions are key in sexual dreams. After a sex dream, ask yourself: How did I feel during the dream? If your feelings changed during the dream, did they change for the better or worse? If dream sex is mind-numbingly boring and mechanical, this may reflect an inner need to change something in order to make your life exciting and stimulating again.

A common sex dream is of being caught in the act; during exuberant, orgasmic sex, the bedroom door opens and there stands a deeply disapproving person – your mother; your old school teacher. In dreams where the emotions crash from bliss to shock or shame, it’s worth seeing if there is a bridge to events in your waking life. Ask yourself: Where in my life have I experienced similar emotions? If ‘the person at the door’ reminds you of anyone, think about your response to this person – are you letting someone (or something) in your life spoil your fun?

Witnessing sexual dreams. In some sexual dreams, we are not involved in the action: we are watching it. Again, notice how you feel in the dream. Are you involved? Do you feel left out? Do you feel curious about what these dream lovers are doing together? Are you turned on? Make the bridge to your waking life. Are you currently getting enough sex? Are you holding back from sex? Are you keen to experiment more in bed? Sometimes dreams offer us a safe space to learn more about sexual possibilities. They allow us to release our inhibitions and discover our inner desires. If you watch erotic movies, this type of witnessing dream may simply be your dreaming mind re-enacting waking life experiences.

Rape in dreams. When sex or sexual contact in dreams in non-consensual, this can have many different levels of possible meaning. The way to find out its significance is to do dreamwork, but if you are plagued by repetitive rape nightmares, please see a qualified therapist: it may indicate past sexual trauma and you will need care and support when unwrapping these dreams. Rape dreams may be symbolic, indicating that we feel violated in some area of our life, or they may reflect our conflicting feelings about an emotionally or physically abusive relationship or with the opposite sex in general.

Sexual orientation dreams. Dreams can help us to understand and embrace our own sexual orientation. In dreams, we can experiment with same sex partners as well as experiencing ourselves as male, female, or non-binary. Lucid dreams have special potential for those exploring their sexual orientation, because when we wake up in a dream we can ask to experience any kind of sex or intimate situation we are interested in, knowing that we are safe and in a private world. When we wake up, these dreams can be worked with using techniques such as Lucid Writing, for greater self-understanding, wholeness, and self-acceptance.

Sexual boundaries in dreams are fluid. If we identify as heterosexual and dream about having gay sex, this does not necessarily mean we are having doubts about our sexual orientation (although it might do); it could point to the need for a deeper and more balanced union of the feminine and masculine energies (or what Carl Jung would refer to as the anima and animus archetypes) we all have within us. Doing Lucid Dreamplay is the way to find out.

Dreams signposting health and disease in the sexual organs. After a hysterectomy, one woman worried that from now on, she would be devoid of all sexual pleasure. Then she dreamed that she had a wonderful orgasm. The dream showed her very literally that her sex drive and ability to feel sexual pleasure remained healthy. Other dreams may flag up disease in the sexual organs: another lady in one of my workshops told me she dreamed she was peeing fire. It turned out she had cystitis. Dream Therapy has more examples of dreams warning of disease in the body.

Dreams of a partner’s infidelity. Sexual dreams can reveal things we were not consciously aware of, but not all dreams of infidelity point to an actual infidelity, so be careful about not leaping to conclusions. A dream that your lover is cheating on you could reflect that you are currently feeling unloved or unsupported by them, or it could be highlighting another area of your life where you feel betrayed or disrespected. Focus on the emotions within your dream, and do Lucid Dreamplay to discover more.

Dreaming of an ex-lover. People often dream of sleeping with ex-lovers. This could mean that they are processing and accepting what they have learned from them and releasing old ties to move on with their lives. Then again, the dream may be trying to tell you that you still have feelings for your ex. Examine your emotions in the dream. Is it a tender encounter? Awkward? Purely sexual? If you are not sure what your dream means, ask for a clarifying dream by writing in your dream journal, “I’d like a dream to help me understand the meaning of this dream.”

Excerpt from Dream Therapy: Dream Your Way to Health and Happiness (US title is Mindful Dreaming: Harness the Power of Lucid Dreaming for Happiness, Health and Positive Change.), by Dr Clare Johnson, 2018.

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