Sex dreams. They happen to the best of us. One minute you’re happily dreaming about eating a giant tub of calorie-free ice cream, and next thing you know, your dreams turn to you and your quiet neighbor getting down and dirty. These dreams can be unsettling to say the least, especially when they feature a partner who is far from being a romantic interest. However, according to the experts, while a dream can be the depiction of our deepest desires, when it comes to sex dreams, it’s often more complicated than simple carnal urges.

Humans have been trying to decode the real meaning behind their dreams for centuries, and while it's true that many dream interpreters today rely on little more than astrology and pseudoscience, Scottish psychologist and dream interpreter Ian Wallace takes a different approach. Rather than use mysticism, Wallace analyzes linguistics to decode the meaning of dreams. According to Wallace, he listens to the language and idioms clients use to explain their dreams to help see how a dream may relate to the real world.

Wallace told Medical Daily that sex is a very popular dream motif that he hears from clients. However, although many may be shy or hesitant to speak of a sex dream, especially when the dream involves something or someone it probably shouldn't, Wallace assured that most times sex is merely a metaphor for something deeper.

Don't be put off if your dreams take a risque twist. It's not always what it seems. Pixabay, public Domain

An Act Of Creation

“If you actually just work with the imaginary and think of what sex symbolizes, you can see it’s actually about creativity,” explained Wallace. “Sex is something very instinctive and animalistic. It’s about your ability to make something.”

Wallace explained that word roots and their meanings give a better idea of what’s really going on in sex dreams. It's not exactly the act of sex that is so important but rather the meaning behind the metaphor for sex.

“Everything about sex is about creating something,” said Wallace.

For example, the main purpose of sex is to create offspring. When we are creating something, we often speak of “conceiving an idea, and when the idea is eventually conceived, it then becomes a labor of love.

Having a sex dream could very well be about a desire to create something, and getting overly intimate with someone you shouldn't, such as a boss or coworker, could symbolize a deeper desire to create something more concrete, such as a project or professional goal, with this individual.

In addition to creation, Wallace also explained that dreaming about sex could symbolize a process of trying to better understand yourself. Sex itself is an intimate act, and when you are naked in the company of another, there is no hiding. You have no choice but to see yourself for who you truly are.

“A lot of the time when we try and find out who we are, we look to other people, and their judgement and analysis,” said Wallace. “Everything in the dream is a reflection of us. They [sex partners] represent aspects of yourself that you have an opportunity to achieve in your waking life.”

Of course, the significance of the sex dream could differ depending on the partner and the type of sex act depicted. For example, Wallace explained that dreaming about sex with someone with whom you wouldn't normally be intimate, such as a friend of the same sex or a colleague, doesn’t necessarily mean you have sexual feelings for that person. Instead, the sex dreams could mean that you admire certain traits in these individuals and wish to develop these traits for yourself. Sex with a stranger or, the ultimate stranger, an extraterrestrial alien, could represent becoming intimately aware of an aspect of yourself that seems quite strange to you.

Decoding dreams can help you better understand who you are. Pixabay, Public Domain

Wallace explained these types of dreams may occur in victims of extreme trauma who have become alienated from a part of themselves due to their past and are trying to reconnect. A sex dream involving rape may represent a power struggle, and could indicate a situation in your waking life in which you have the power to make something happen, but that requires you be assertive in order to do so.

Dream Interpretation

Like so many aspects of psychology, dream interpretation is more an art than a science. While it's true that sleep plays a vital role in our overall health, with one study suggesting that sleep was actually more important than eating when it came to keeping our bodies functioning in peak condition, the purpose of dreaming is much more theory than fact.

According to Patrick McNamara, director of the Evolutionary Neurobehavior Laboratory at the Boston University School of Medicine, no one is really sure if dreams have a purpose or meaning at all, Still it’s unlikely they are purely random.

“Some investigators think dreams have no meaning or purpose at all, they are just froth due to an over-activated brain,” McNamara told Medical Daily. “But since dreams display consistent content across individuals and cultures, they cannot be mere random image…”

McNamara explained that there are different explanations put forth about the meaning of dreams. For example, some suggest that dreams help us consolidate emotional memories or help simulate threatening situations so that we can face them better when we’re awake. Other experts believe dreams facilitate social interactions in various ways via depictions of various social scenarios. They also enact simulations to whatever is concerning the dreaming at the moment to help them better deal with a situation during the day.

Still, while McNamara admitted that there is likely a purpose to dreaming, unlike Wallace, he was skeptical to say that all dreams have specific meaning behind them.

“There are all kinds of dreams...some dreams very likely have nothing to do with anything in our waking life, explained McNamara. “Some dreams refer to earlier dreams and thus concern dreams, not waking life.”

Regardless of how much emphasis you put on the actual dream interpretation, both experts agree that paying attention to your dreams has positive benefits, under the right circumstances: from practice results, such as helping to address and eliminate a recurring nightmare, or as Wallace suggests, to help you better understand who you really are. So, sleep tight, rest well, and most importantly, dream on.