It’s not just teenage boys who wake up in a cold, uh, cold sticky sheets and shorts. One moment you’re fooling around with the sex partner of your literal dreams; the next you’re all alone in a tangle of bedsheets and your own, you know what. But what’s the actual science behind this sticky phenomenon? Is there any reason as to when we men experience these nocturnal emissions?
A wet dream occurs when we experience sexual arousal during sleep. This is especially common in men since they naturally experience erections during the REM (rapid eye movement) phase of sleep. Combine that with an erotic dream, and there’s a good chance you’ll wake up in a wet spot.
For men, nocturnal emissions are a way for the body to clear out old sperm. Sperm has an expiration date, and if you haven’t ejaculated in a while, your body gets rid of the old stuff to ensure the sperm on tap is fresh and ready to hit the field of play.
Wet dreams are most common during puberty when testosterone (the hormone responsible for sperm production) levels are at their highest. This doesn’t mean there’s something wrong if you wake up with sticky briefs well into middle age, though.
While it’s possible to blow your load without any sort of physical stimulation, Ley believes nocturnal emissions are more often a result of sleep-humping: Oftentimes, the sleeper may unconsciously masturbate or grinds themselves into the bed. Just when you thought nothing was more embarrassing than sleep-talking.