Science of Love, Sex, and Babies

Nocturnal orgasms — women have them too

Posted in news, Polls and Surveys by jenapincott on June 25, 2009

For the 40 percent of women who’ve had one, an orgasm in a dream is often more intense that one in real life. And it’s not just a dream — a nocturnal orgasm is a real physiological phenomenon. The dreamer awakens to the same pulsing sensations she’d have during an orgasm from masturbation or sex. Her heart rate surges, her breathing deepens, her vaginal blood flow increases. Her orgasm might even be so fierce that she cramps up as she transitions from dream to reality.


A few studies shed some light:

1. During REM, the relative pulse pressure in the vagina increases. This also happens to a man’s penis, resulting in nocturnal emissions and morning erections. The content of the dream doesn’t appear to affect genital pulse — after all, it increases every time you sleep — but the physical sensation may influence your dreams (no one knows for sure). At the same time, the parts of the brain that inhibit orgasm, particularity the prefrontal cortex and amygdala, are offline when you’re asleep. (Readers of BLONDES might recall that the left amygdala, associated with anxiety, and the prefrontal correct are quiet during orgasm.)

2. Female orgasm can result from brain activity alone — “no hands.” Evidence of this comes from the research of Beverley Whipple, who studied women who reach orgasm via “self-induced imagery” (i.e. fantasy) alone. Volunteers’ blood pressure, heart rate, pupil size, pain threshold, and so on increase as they reach climax, their hands nowhere near their genitals.

As speculated by Whipple ( see also her research on paralyzed women), a “hands-off” orgasm may channel the vagus nerve, which is like a livewire that extends from the brain to the cervix via the heart, lungs, and other organs. Not every orgasm strums it — but, like hitting the right chord, a vagus nerve climax is said to be richer and more fulfilling. Some women think they can even feel it surge through their bodies from their brainstems. (See previous blog about asphyxiophiliacs.) It’s interesting: Vagus nerve activity might be one reason why so many women say their nocturnal orgasms are so much stronger than their diurnal ones.

Only in their dreams….


25 Responses

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  1. Top Posts « said, on June 26, 2009 at 8:45 pm

    […] Nocturnal orgasms — women have them too For the 40 percent of women who’ve had one, an orgasm in a dream is often more intense that one in real life. And […] […]

  2. RabbitLinks | Rabbit Write said, on July 24, 2009 at 3:15 pm

    […] Orgasms: Women have them […]

  3. Michelle said, on February 25, 2010 at 6:55 pm

    Interesting information. I learned a lot reading about this.

  4. Lisa said, on June 6, 2010 at 5:44 pm

    I get them too, they are so awesome. I don’t remember having a sexual dream prior though.

    • Maralee said, on August 15, 2010 at 1:24 am

      I don’t seem to have any sexually oriented dreams either. I just have these spontaneous orgasms in the middle of the night that wake me up from a deep sleep, when I haven’t even been dreaming at all (that I was aware of). Very odd, but no complaints…

  5. Kath said, on August 13, 2010 at 9:57 pm

    I have nocturnal orgasms while dreaming, 2 or 3 times a year. In the dream, I am having intercourse with a man with whom I do not know. It’s fantastic intercourse and I actually awaken (but I don’t want to) by my climax. I also moan and sometimes help my orgasm the rest of the way by quickly masturbating. My sexual activity is non-existent because my husband is terminally ill.

  6. chinny said, on September 10, 2010 at 10:33 am

    this nocturnal organsm have been a re-occuring activity in my pleasurable as it feels am aware by virtue of my exposure to spiritual realms brought about by my new birth in christ Jesus l knw is an act that l shouldn’t the spirir realm there is a spirit being known as aosmedus who goes about defiling women in their sleep.he is known as spirit wicked is he that if a pregnant woman ho has such encounters via sleep suffers a miscarriage except she is aware o hr weapons of warfare

    • Kirsty said, on October 28, 2010 at 11:10 am

      You just killed this conversation… Why turn it into something macabre and evil?!

    • Sylvia said, on November 17, 2010 at 5:17 pm

      Funny you should mention you new birth in relationship to this discussion. I too have nocturnal orgasm. And I am also a spirit filled born again Christian. Thing is my dreams just prior to being awaken by the intensity of these fabulous orgasms are always dreams of a non-sexual nature. Usually something exhilarating or intense but not even remotely romantic. I theorize that my spirit in agreement with God’s Spirit helps me to maintain sexual purity of the mind and body, while allowing me the natural physical and emotional release that come from orgasm on a subconscious and involuntary level, in a guilt free forum. Why?… perhaps because I have willingly and sufficiently submitted my sexual desires to Him. I’ve just begun to research the subject. I’ll take you thoughts into consideration. But honestly I hope to discover some riveting coloration between my spiritual hypothesis, this physiological phenomena and dream theory.

      • Vonya said, on August 10, 2011 at 7:50 pm

        Great response and as a born again Christian who wants to remain celibate until marriage,I’ve also theorize that God gives me these “gifts” so that I can enjoy a physical release and maintain my commitment to him and my future spouse.He is merciful!

  7. chinny said, on October 28, 2010 at 1:56 pm

    the bible says that ‘my people are destroyed for lack of knowledge’.truth must be told ever since l became spirit filled and running my race as a born again christain these so called nocturnal dreams have ceased to occur to give credence to my earlier comment.

  8. Plain Jane said, on November 11, 2010 at 1:27 am

    How sad that someone would wish for their nocturnal orgasms to stop. What’s the matter with people that they can’t even enjoy a little harmless pleasure? My nocturnal orgasms are never related to an erotic dream, just a little gift for which I am grateful.

  9. Colleen said, on December 19, 2010 at 12:27 am

    I am a very healthy woman who has been having nocturnal orgasms for over two years now. I usually have >10 a year. They are spontaneous and very strong. I was beginning to think I was abnormal in some way, but after reading that other ladies are experiencing the same phenomena, I don’t feel so bad about it now. I am not sexually active, even though I am married. My husband and I do not have sexual relations. I was beginning to think that my absent sex life might be the culprit. The nocturnal orgasmic activity is extremely pleasurable though. At least I am not alone in this strange occurrence.

    • Frank said, on February 11, 2016 at 4:13 pm

      My wife only “lets” me have sex with her. She is not turned on at all. When I found out about this, I realized I did not have a real marriage.

  10. Colleen said, on December 19, 2010 at 12:31 am

    BTW: I am a very attractive and intelligent woman, so that is not the reason my husband isn’t involved with me sexually. It is just one of those things. Absence of love in a marriage is a powerful turnoff. Just saying, folks.

  11. Lainey said, on December 27, 2010 at 5:49 pm

    I just LOVE my night orgasms! I hope they never stop! I am 51 and just in the early phase of menopause and have been having these dreams for as long as I can remember. They are erratic and I cannot figure what may trigger them as I have a very healthy sex life, but who’s complaining! What a way to wake up! And great news ladies as they seem to continue after menopause!!! Yay

  12. Rose said, on January 19, 2011 at 11:01 am

    I experienced my first nocturnal orgasm last night. I have rather vivid dreams most nights and usually remember them when I wake up. Last night I had a sex dream and for the first time upon climaxing in the dream I woke up! It was really intense and really nice. I was a little confused at first but after reading this it all seems good. I’m 22 years old and have a really active sex life with my long term boyfriend, so not quite sure why it happened now and that but Its a nice development hehe =)

  13. Lizbeth said, on February 1, 2011 at 11:26 am

    I’m post menopause for several years now, have had four kids and am no longer sexually active for well over a year now. I’ve started to get regular nocturnal orgasms that wake me up toward the end of my sleep. I’ve had these before but very rarely. They seem to be much more frequent now. I’m not complaining, just wondering why the change. I wake up and touch myself and prolong the wonderful experience. I actually am thankful for them but it still seems strange and I’m wondering what might be causing it?

  14. Tom said, on February 22, 2011 at 12:49 am

    I know this said female only but I’ve had a few “nocturnal orgasms” and was slightly confused as I am also a christian. I’m a 27 year old male and I’m doing my best to be obedient to God. My wet dream was sexual and involved someone I know. I’m so confused that even though I’m trying so hard to find sexual purity I’m reminded of my sinful nature. I have lust in my heart and although I may be able to muscle away from it its still there. I must agree its the same for men with how powerfull these orgasms are.

  15. Anonymousles said, on March 22, 2011 at 6:35 pm

    Only ten times a year? I have several a month! Is that normal?!

  16. Maria Adame said, on April 5, 2011 at 2:57 am

    I have them all the time. hardly ever does it have to do with anything romantic, it just sort of happens out of no where in my dream. I wish they would stop simply because i wake up with unbareable cramps when the orgasm wakes me. It hurts sooo bad. I dont understand why i get really bad cramps. I read that it has to do with painful ovulation but im on birth control. Im confused?

  17. Dani said, on June 9, 2011 at 6:23 pm

    @ Maria – uterine contractions (cramps) are completely normal with an orgasm, though I suggest seeing your doctor if they are extremely painful as you describe.

    I have had orgasms in my sleep for several years now, but I do find that I have them more frequently when my husband is deployed and/or around ovulation. It also is never a romantic dream either, so that, to me, is a sign that it’s linked with a physiological need.

    As for the reference to nocturnal orgasm’s being evil, that’s silly ignorance from a person who should read their bible more and speak less about things they aren’t educated on. And that’s coming from a well-versed Christian.

  18. Esther said, on September 23, 2011 at 10:26 am

    Concerning the painful cramping, Maria, you may have adhesions or some scar tissue involvement. I would suggest going to see your gynocologist and discussing it.

  19. Frank said, on February 11, 2016 at 4:06 pm

    My wife does not like having sex with me not likes me touching her. Recently I accidentally overheard her tell friend she has sleep orgasmns while dreaming. I never knew this existed. So she cannot orgasm with me but has no problem while dreaming. Can u think of anything more insulting to a man?
    Guess I will be single soon.

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