Ladies, what if you had an orgasm and weren’t awake to enjoy it? For some women, that’s exactly what happens. It’s called a sleep orgasm and there’s a scientific explanation for how women can experience an orgasm without even having sex.
When men orgasm in their sleep, they do so leaving evidence of their “wet dream.” Women can also orgasm in their sleep but they have only the memory – if they can remember the orgasm, psychiatrist and sex therapist Madeleine Castellanos told Fusion. But if there’s no proof, and only a fuzzy memory (erotic or not, really, how well do you remember your dreams?) how do we know that women really achieve climax in their sleep? The explanation is somewhat paradoxical. The deep sleep of REM sleep is when sleep orgasms are most likely to occur. Though the body is switched “off” and is at rest, the brain is “on” and can feel an orgasm, Castellanos explains.
Sleep orgasms were documented in a small study funded by the National Institutes of Health. Heart beats doubled to 100 per minute; breaths per minute increased from 12 to 22; vaginal blood flow increased, as well. But what triggered those sleep orgasms? Castellanos says it’s the increased blood flow to the clitoris. “Your brain recognizes that you have more blood flow in those tissues, and it can lead to sexual arousal,” she explains.
But blood flow to the genitals isn’t enough to explain the achievement of an orgasm, which is experienced in the brain. Fusion cites additional research from Barry Komisaruk, a Rutgers University professor who has studied “non-genital orgasms.”
During a conventional orgasm, the brain lights up like a “storm in the brain,” Komisaruk told Fusion. Orgasm is associated with the activation of the sensory cortex in the brain. The brain activation during a conventional orgasm helps explain how a woman can experience orgasm during sleep.
In Komisaruk’s study, when women thought about stimulation, the corresponding region of the sensory cortex was activated just as if the corresponding part of the body were physically stimulated. It turns out, that same stimulation can happen during sleep, particularly when the increased blood flow is already teeing up the genitals for the big “O.” The research sheds new light on how women experience orgasm.