Arousal/Sleep Question


I often struggle with involuntary arousal in dreams or when coming out of sleep. If I am awake but still coming out of a state of sleep and find myself slightly aroused, yet do nothing to try to remove the feeling (not out of a sense of pleasure, but thinking that it will just go away on it’s own), do I commit a mortal sin? I feel that I am aware of what’s going on, at least to some extent, but do not actively enjoy what’s happening. Thanks for your help.


You need to talk to an experienced priest about your scrupulosity.


No, you have not committed mortal sin. did you purposefully intend to offend God? Of course not.

@Paul, just because someone has a question regarding a particular sin does not mean they have scrupulosity. Even if someone has scrupulous tendencies does not mean they suffer from scrupulosity. (not meaning to lecture or chastise, though it sounds as if I am. It is just that scrupulosity is SO much more than just a question or concern over a possible sin.)


“Mary, Mary, Mary” … repeat these words if you’re unsure; for whosoever “remembers having invoked the name of Mary may be sure that he has not violated chastity.” (St. Alphonsus Liguori)

The same saint has these words of consolation for those with scruples or a tendency to scrupulosity:

"St. Teresa well said, “Let the soul accept the confessor with a determination to think no more of personal excuses, but to trust in the words of the Lord, ‘He that heareth you heareth Me’. The Lord so highly values this submission, that when, in spite of a thousand inward conflicts, and considering the decision to be an absurd one, we execute it nevertheless, cost us what it may, the Lord so assists us,” etc.; and she goes on to say, that we then comply with his divine will.

Hence St. Francis de Sales, speaking of direction from a spiritual Father in order to walk securely in the way of God, says, “This is the very counsel of all counsels.” “Search as much as you will,” says the devout Avila, “you will in no way discover the will of God so surely as by the path of that humble obedience which is so much recommended and practised by the devout of former times.” Thus, too, Alvarez said, “Even if the spiritual Father should err, the obedient soul is secure from error, because it rests on the judgment of him whom God has given it as a superior.” And F. Nieremberg writes to the same effect: “Let the soul obey the confessor; and then, although the thing itself were matter of fault, he does not sin who does it with the intention of obeying him who holds to him the place of God, persuading himself (as is, indeed, the case) that he is bound to obey him;” forasmuch as (according to the words of F. Rogacci and F. Lessius) the confessor is to us the interpreter of the [p. 454] divine will. And this is confirmed also by the gloss: “But if what is prescribed be of a doubtful kind, the virtue of obedience exempts from sin, although the thing in itself be evil;” and in the chapter Inquisition de Sent, exc., from the same text, obedience to the confessor is enjoined, when it says that scruples “ought to be dismissed at the judgment of one’s pastor.” St. Francis de Sales gives three maxims of great consolation to the scrupulous: “An obedient soul has never been lost; 2. We ought to rest satisfied with knowing from our spiritual Father that we are going on well, without seeking a personal knowledge of it; 3. The best thing is to walk on blindly through all the darkness and perplexity of this life, under the providence of God.”

God bless.


You are not responsible for what happens during dreams, except in the VERY rare case when you realize that you are dreaming (lucid dream) and you intentionally use that circumstance to do something within the dream that would be sinful.

Likewise, you are not responsible for your body’s physical reactions to your dreams; those may actually be responses to real physical conditions (like a full bladder), and those conditions may actually be causing the dreams.

What you are responsible for is your reaction to your physical condition, once you have awakened.


Why would God be offended by something He intended to happen in the body? Aren’t you perhaps offending God by suggesting He is displeased with His own handiwork?

Best wishes,



I agree. I do stuff half an hour after a wake up that I don’t even realize. There’s not like a definitive point at which one becomes culpable for ones thoughts, but its not until one is wide awake.

Even if you become aware that your dreaming your still not usually able to rationally consider actions.

But honestly this subject becomes so theoretical its not even worth worrying about IMO. Its entirely natural and healthy to have wake up aroused. Don’t get so worked up about it.


I am a sleep tech. During REM (rapid eye movement) sleep you do most of your dreaming. However, another characteristic of REM sleep is relaxation (paralysis) of your muscles. Your sex organ is, of course, a muscle. When it relaxes, blood flow increases to it, thus causing hardening.

The following is what I learned in school, but thankfully have never been asked to test (I don’t know if it’s still done this way):
When someone suspected of being “unable to perform,” something like a strain gauge is placed around the organ. If “hardening/size increase” of the organ occurs during REM, then that proves the problem is not physical.

Hope this helps.


So therefore it’s a natural way that which the male body operates. You did not commit a sin. It’s not a sin if it’s not intentional.


i think many men suffer from this. i have had a lifetime of these experiences and still struggle to fight them off when i wake up. it also has to do with having to go to the bathroom and that helps alleviate some of the desire. i then try to pray until i go back to sleep or getup for the day. it also helps to try to discipline your hands and keep them at your sides instead of encouraging arousal, but it is a tremendous temptation that time of morning. i often wonder if all men suffer this to various degrees. i think mentioning it in confession will help getting good advice and strengthen us for the future.


lol. everyone seems to run to priest for any problem. Believe me in California it is easier to get hit by a ice storm than find one available 24/7. Sometimes we are called to use our own well developed consciences.


Just don’t do it no matter what your body is doing at this time. In order to commit sin you have to be quite alert and oriented to know what your doing in the wee hours of the night. Most people aren’t. If you do fall into sin, as many men will do, just go to confession. Sometimes, it may takes several visits to the confessional before one is able to master avoidance of this sin. It is all about training and prayer for the good Catholic man.


my conscience finds me guilty as accused.:blush:


Well whenever that happens to me I just go to the bathroom and pee to remove that arousal. It works most time. Unless you’ve done something in the bathroom other than peeing then you should have that confessed.


yes, that helps me as well, but there is still some post p to deal with.:smiley:


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