I’ve woken up in the middle of the night recently thinking I might have wet the bed, but my brother told me that they’re just wet dreams. What are those?

Great question! Wet dreams are sometimes called nocturnal emissions or sleep orgasms. They’re when someone has an orgasm (or comes/cums) when they’re asleep. Wet dreams are very normal and common, especially during puberty, for people of all genders.

In case you’re not already familiar, an orgasm is often considered the peak of sexual pleasure. During an orgasm, your pelvic muscles rhythmically contract. For people with penises, these contractions push semen out of the penis.  This is called ejaculation. Ejaculate (also called semen or come/cum) is what makes the bed wet.

People with vaginas also have wet dreams. Usually instead of ejaculating, their vaginas become lubricated (or wet or slippery).

You might wake up while you’re having a wet dream or immediately after. Other times, you may not realize that you had one until the morning, when you wake up to sticky sheets or underwear.

Sometimes, wet dreams are caused by actual dreams about sex or something else that arouses you (or turns you on). Other times, they might be caused by the friction of the sheets as you toss and turn at night.

You can’t control wet dreams. Some people have a lot of wet dreams, and others have barely any or none at all. As people get older, they often have fewer wet dreams or the wet dreams stop altogether. This is because hormone levels (which can be all over the place during puberty) begin to level out as you get older. Some people find that they have fewer wet dreams when or if they begin masturbating (touching themselves for sexual pleasure) or having sex with a partner.

Wet dreams are a completely normal part of growing older, and there’s no reason to feel embarrassed about them. Just put your sheets in your hamper or in the washing machine to keep them clean, and you’re good to go!