You're More Likely To Have Sex Dreams If You Sleep Like This

You're at a bar making eyes at a stranger and they come over to flirt with you. The next thing you know, you're both stealing away to a secluded room to get intimate. You wake up feeling hot and bothered. Sound familiar? 

This is one of the many sex dreams you could be having if you sleep on your stomach, according to a 2012 study published in the journal Dreaming. Experts have theories about things your dreams can tell you about your health, but it turns out your sleeping position can also cause you to dream a particular kind of dream, and in this case, a steamy one. 

The study's author, Calvin Kai-Ching Yu from Hong Kong Shue Yan University, explained that the "study provides the evidence that dream experiences, and in particular dream content, can be influenced by body posture during sleep," (via The British Psychological Society). The study, which surveyed 670 people (men and women) of an average age of 19, also uncovered that having limited limb mobility while sleeping face down also led to participants dreaming of "being smothered," being "unable to breathe," being "unable to move" and "being locked up". While that certainly doesn't sound pleasant, what's the deal with the sexual fantasies? 

The explanation behind the sex dreams

Chief of neurology and sleep medicine at Kaiser Permanente in Atlanta, Georgia, Dr. Lisa Billars told Everyday Health that sleeping on your belly puts pressure on your sex organs, so to speak, and this could be the reason for the particularly steamy dream content. "That feeling of stimulation is likely the origin of the erotic dream content," explained the neurologist. 

While there is a school of thought that believes dreams aren't really connected to the real world and any sensations we might be experiencing outside of the dream, Kai-Ching Yu feels a little differently (via NBC News). 

"I believe that the brain during sleep is not at all totally detached from the external world, and somatosensory stimuli, including those stemming from the environment, are probably incorporated into dream content more often than people observe or are aware of," shared the author of the study. Perhaps this explains why we dream about urgently looking for a bathroom when we've got full bladders in real life. Dream interpretations aside, however, there are surprising ways your sleep position can impact your health. Belly sleepers, take notes. 

Sleeping on your stomach can lead to spinal pain

While flopping onto your belly when the lights go out every night does reduce snoring (via Sleep Foundation), you are more likely to wake up with neck and back pains if you do so. 

Sleeping on your stomach essentially gives rise to bad posture and spinal misalignment, according to chiropractor, Dr. Andrew Bang, per Cleveland Clinic. "It puts added stress on your lower back – and that's a part of the body that most of us are already taxing in our day-to-day activities. Stomach sleeping doesn't give those muscles a chance to rest and recover," explained Dr. Bang. If you've ever seen a stomach sleeper (or been one), you also know that the only way to get comfortable sleeping that way is to turn your head either to the right or left to avoid suffocating. While this might feel okay in the moment, you could wake up with a sore neck, added the chiropractor. Other issues with this sleeping position include rotator cuff problems and restricted blood flow to the arms. 

While you might be inclined to continue sleeping like this (for the sex dreams), you're probably better off finding a more healthy sleeping position that supports your spine and neck. Try side sleeping or back sleeping, two of the more preferred sleeping positions for back support, according to the Sleep Foundation. It is important to remember, however, that changing sleeping positions takes time. Start slowly and use tools like body pillows if you must, to make the transition smoother and more authentic to you.