Erotic dreams can be harnessed

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Sexy woman looking at photographs

Photographer: Justin Wu, Assistant Photographer: Shaun Ding, Make up Artist: Veronica Valdes

It’s an occurrence we relish: slipping off into dreamland in the cozy confines of our beds.

While everyone is familiar with drifting off and sailing the ocean blue, plummeting down a cliff or being chased by a predator, we give less attention to erotic dreaming.

What of those dreams where we are playing out a sexual fantasy " awakening wet with anticipation or with a throbbing erection?

Our most vivid erotic dreams occur when we reach a state of lucidity: a heightened sense of awareness in the dream state because of our consciousness of the dream. When we have a lucid dream, it seems much more realistic than a regular dream and we have more control over what is occurring.

But why do we dream what we do?

“Nobody knows for sure,” Guy Grenier, former human sexuality professor at Western, says. “Leading theories have to do with editing daily information we take in " we have to find ways to edit down this overwhelming amount of data.”

A complaint among lucid dreamers is they awake from their dreams too soon. While we can still have funky non-lucid dreams, often dreamers will wake up seconds after “becoming lucid.”

However, there are strategies a dreamer can practise to prolong the vivid dreams.

Stephen LaBerge, a former researcher at Stanford University, has done groundbreaking research in the field of psychophysiology " namely, lucid dreaming " for nearly the last three decades.

In his extensive authorship on the topic, LaBerge suggests focusing on something concrete in the dream world " looking at the ground or staring at your hands " can stabilize the dream and keep us conscious of it.

Remaining in the lucid state can be tough, but the hardest part of obtaining a vivid erotic dream is reaching lucidity. Some suggest that creating a dream journal where we document our dream content can improve dream recollection.

However, Grenier says the jury is out on whether this as an accurate method biologically.

“The research on [dream journal effectiveness] is equivocal,” he says.

All erotic dreams " particularly erotic lucid dreams " can have a noticeable physiological effect on the body.

Adolescent males are notorious for nighttime ejaculation or ‘wet dreams,’ but erotic dreaming can trigger nighttime ejaculation in both men and women.

“Women have wet dreams too, they are just a lot less sticky,” Grenier explains.

Western psychology professor Bill Fisher says that while nighttime ejaculation can occur at various points in life, it is likely tied in with a lack of satiation.

“Nocturnal ejaculation does seem associated with a lack of ejaculatory outlet elsewhere,” he says.

“Wet dreams are related to circulating levels of hormones,” Grenier explains. “These hormones are in flux during puberty, and this results [in a prevalence of nocturnal ejaculation during adolescence].”

Even if adults aren’t often staining the sheets when sleeping solo, we remember " if only for a short time " the wildest sexual fantasies in our dreams.

According to LaBerge, dreams can be either meaningful or meaningless, varying greatly in terms of psychological significance. Does this mean our sexual fantasies are trying to tell us something?

Ultimately, if it is kinky sex with a Hollywood hunk or just the girl or boy next door, erotic dreams are a phenomenon we can all enjoy " and harness.

For more information about lucid dreaming, read Stephen LaBerge’s Lucid Dreaming, available in bookstores.

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