Urine Dreams and the Creative Flow

Ever had a dream about going to the bathroom somewhere strange and wonder what it meant?

Dreams about our most primal daily functions—such as urination and defecation—are fairly common but seldom talked about. Are these dreams just a cue to wake up and take care of business? Doubtfully. Dreams, like all thoughts and acts of imagination, have multiple layers of significance beyond the obvious, and this includes dreams of finding relief.

To break the ice, here’s a recent dream I had:

I really have to pee. I’m in a familiar house, and I find a place to relieve myself. I start to pee directly onto the keyboard of my computer. This seems to make perfect sense. The only problem is I have to make sure not to overflow the keyboard and make a mess, as it is absorbing the urine at a slow but steady rate. This requires an act of focus and deliberate holding back to sustain the right balance. Then, I think “What am I doing? I need a toilet!” I find a toilet and continue to pee. After a while, I still feel like I have to go. I realize I’m dreaming and I immediately wake up.

Epilogue: When I woke up, I did have to pee in real life, so I got up and took care of business.

The next morning, my first thought was that the dream reflected a true biological state, my need to void the bladder. After all, I did drink a beer a couple hours before bed. But why did I pee on my computer keyboard in the dream? It’s totally irrational, but I know that dream images are seldom “random.”

I reflected upon the role of the keyboard in my life. It’s how I type words into the computer. As a writer, I get a lot of use out of this thing. The keyboard is how I make my living, from my freelance work as well as my books and articles. And don’t forget all the time I spend writing those countless emails, as well.

My first inclination was to interpret this dream negatively. Piss on that! Urinating on my keyboard is a sign of disrespect, the ultimate expression of ruination. Maybe I’m fed up with being tied to my computer all the time, I wondered. Maybe I don’t respect my own work.

When I told this dream to Amy she had a different take. “Do you know how a lot dreamworkers interpret urination dreams?” She continued, “Peeing is the most authentic thing you can do. It’s the original self-expression.”

Her suggestion made me laugh, and I instantly saw the image of a dog and a fire hydrant. However, her suggestion had an immediate dream logic that felt right in my bones, especially because in the dream I was peeing on my keyboard, precisely the tool that channels my self-expression and creativity.

More metaphors came up around the concept of urination: Making your mark. Claiming your territory. Writing your name in the snow.

I then reflected back on the curious detail of this dream, how “I have to make sure not to overflow the keyboard and make a mess, as it is absorbing the urine at a slow but steady rate. This requires an act of focus and deliberate holding back to sustain the right balance.”

This “slow and steady rate” is an excellent metaphor for the writing process. The act of creation is time-consuming and requires first just showing up and making a habit of putting words down. Try to “get it all out” at once in a Romantic writing binge by candlelight just leads to burning out, “making a mess.”

The role of the unconscious in writing is here, as it speaks quietly and must be finessed into the open. One of my creative writing mentors from college, the award-winning author Sterling Watson, used to discuss this creative process as pulling string from the wall, a little at a time. “Don’t pull too much too fast,” he’d say, “or it all falls apart.”

Urination as a metaphor for the creative writing process especially applies for writing longer pieces, such as chapters and books.  Currently, I am gearing up for several long assignments like this, so perhaps the dream is cautioning, “Take it slow, let it absorb, don’t make a mess.”

Amy had a different take. She was drawn to the carefulness of the flow too, but suggested that perhaps (if it were her dream) it might be a good idea to find some creative outlets that can really take what I put out.

I see her point, and have to admit that I don’t have any “free and easy” creative outlets these days. As with all dreams, both of these interpretations could be “true” simultaneously. Dreams showcase possibilities, and it’s up to the dreamer to continue to notice how these energies play out in future dreams, as well as in waking life.

Interestingly, I realized I had this dream “peeing on the keyboard,” once before, over four years ago. At the time, I was working on my Master’s thesis, another demanding long-term project. I had completely forgotten this. So peeing on the keyboard is a repetitive theme for me, one that perhaps naturally is released from the imaginal floodgates when I need to get the job done.

Dear creative process: your alluring message received, thanks. Just in case, I’ll refrain from having a beer before bed for a while too.

About the Author:

Ryan's recent dream research focuses on lucid dreaming, sacred sites, the anthropology of dreaming, and sleep paralysis. DreamStudies.org

41 Comments

  1. Katrina Dreamer February 23, 2011 at 2:47 pm - Reply

    This is fascinating. I quite enjoyed reading it as it’s a different take on pee dreams than I’ve heard before. Thanks Ryan!

  2. Amy E. Brucker February 23, 2011 at 2:58 pm - Reply

    I’m curious, Katrina. What have you heard about pee dreams?

  3. Sammy R. February 24, 2011 at 10:33 am - Reply

    Interesting Ryan! Pee dreams are a recurring dream for me too. Although, as far as I can recall, I always have to pee in real life when they happen. So I’ve chalked it up to the fact that it’s just telling me I have to pee. But they are always in weird situations/places…usually at someone else’s house, and definitely urinating where I shouldn’t be! The next time this happens I will write down the details when I wake and see if I can make anything of it.

    • Michael Jackson September 11, 2013 at 9:26 am - Reply

      I was dreaming that I went to jail, in when I woke up the bed was wet in then. The rest went In the toilet but I had to clean my bed to i was very mad. I really think it was because I ate late night

  4. Vera February 24, 2011 at 12:29 pm - Reply

    Thank you for this, Ryan! Once again, you have brought an idea in light that i could work with. Such dreams for me are very common. I used to have a lot of peeing dreams and almost all of them had similar scenarios: i could not find a place to do it, and if i did there was always something wrong with it – it is too open and people can see me (most of the time), or its too dirty. Always shameful and uncomfortable. Since I started expressing myself creatively through painting, those dreams diminished.

    Oh, one interesting detail… Sometimes, if i finally get to do it in a dream, it would lead to a real physical orgasm (which then would wake me up). Hope it is not too much info, haha. Any idea on that?

    Next time I have a similar dream, I’ll try to pay the closest attention to the details, and will share with you.

  5. Magda February 24, 2011 at 6:17 pm - Reply

    Wow, how nice to hear other pee stories :) I have had so many dreams about that, although, not all have related to me needing to pee in real life! So, now armed with more thought (like anymore fits in my head!!) I will endevour to analyse the ones I have had.

    Thanks Ryan

    and Vera… I can relate verrrry well! Although i don’t find it shameful, just annoying that it’s so difficult to find somewhere without being disturbed. Often I just give up and pee… luckily, not in real life… whew :) Funny thing is that these are very very lucid dreams, but not quite completely controllable.

  6. Katrina February 25, 2011 at 11:12 am - Reply

    In Jeremy Taylor’s class he said that dreams about peeing in public can be about wanting to let out something we feel ashamed about…

  7. Amy E. Brucker February 25, 2011 at 3:29 pm - Reply

    @Katrina, what you say is true, however your use of the word “can” is important. Regarding Jeremy: He says that in general, having to pee in a dream is about needing to express something. The dream scenario and our feelings in the dream are an indication about our waking relationship to whatever it is we need to express.

    (Read Jeremy’s short blip about pee dreams) http://bit.ly/hvoVFL

    Embarrassment and shame are common feelings in pee dreams and they are specifically about an urgent need to express something we don’t feel comfortable expressing.

    But I’ve had pee dreams in which I have no problem peeing in public while being naked. That dream is not about shame or embarrassment. (I’ve had the anxiety type, too, of course.) They’re always about about a need to express something.

  8. Ryan Hurd February 26, 2011 at 9:05 am - Reply

    I must admit I’m quite “relieved” that y’all can relate to this post! I definitely think it’s a both/and type situation with these pee dreams in terms of actually needing to use the restroom and the symbolic content. It’s a rare opportunity to watch how the imagination visualizes all those conflicting thoughts and feelings about finding relief (the shame, the ecstasy, and the creative power of truly letting yourself “go”). The orgasmic potential is fascinating, showcasing how those same conflicts (shame and pleasure) can be accessed through sexuality as well.. how freeing!

  9. Ryan Hurd June 1, 2011 at 7:08 pm - Reply

    I actually had another dream in this series last week. this time I was peeing into the computer screen. it absorbed it all no problem, but there was still some anxiety about “is this the right way to go about this?” seemed kinda sketchy in the moment but I accepted it. that’s dream logic for you. a part of us is quite comfortable in the dreamworld.

  10. Raven December 8, 2011 at 12:25 am - Reply

    I’m a female in my 20′s and I’ve been plagued with these dreams since I was a teenager. sadly, it’s never me that’s peeing in them, it’s always a favorite male celeb of mine. and it’s always him peeing where he shouldn’t be, then the physical pain starts. however, though in my most recent ones I’ve been having for over 2 years now. the target has shifted to Kiro, the bass guitar player of my favorite German band Cinema Bizarre. he’s going and walking over to areas like the middle of the living room and standing there peeing on the carpet. he’s also going and standing in other places like the corner of the pantry, down in the basement in the corner, inside his bedroom closet also in the corner, the square part that you see the longer set of stairs connected to in a regular house. and he’s half asleep not realizing anything around him either, the only place he’s not standing and going is his bed because he’s still asleep in the dream fully while there. and I can tell you the physical pain I feel when he goes is MUCH MUCH worse when he goes carpet in the living room. and also while he’s down in the basement too, however, though another problem has come up with these dreams as well. A week ago now to be exact, I’ve been smelling his pee wicked strong while I’m dreaming and it SMELLS EXACTLY TO A TEE like he had coffee. I must also point out that I’ve been smelling Bill Kaulitz pee as well, he’s the singer of Tokio Hotel another favorite German band of mine, and it’s equally as strong. his smells like he had a soda, and I’ve been smelling it the same amount of days as I have been Kiro’s while dreaming (like I’ve pointed out) I feel like a weirdo because of this, what could this mean possibly? any answers that will make sense would be greatly appreciated.

  11. SoulSleeper April 3, 2012 at 6:50 am - Reply

    Quite often, especially of late, I’ve been having urination dreams where I am just “going” anywhere. No matter where i am at or who i am around, i go like a firehose. Tremendous amounts of pressure and nothing will contain it! While in the dream, i will usually feel troubled or embarrassed by it and when i change locations i will continue to blast away. Lately i have had the sense of being in the 1950-1960 era. I was born in ’73. I have a feeling that yes i need to express something that cannot be held back any longer. I’ve never considered the creativity aspect, but my life is always under pressure from pain and very negative family issues. When i do wake up, i will usually have to go. I really haven’t been creative in a number of years.

  12. dixie beatrice April 21, 2012 at 6:55 am - Reply

    4/21/12 am. hours .hi ryan. in my dream i’m peeing a whole lot then a pause then more peeing. no panic, no specific place. as if i were comfortably suspended in air not too far off of the ground. and i kept on peeing and it would dissapear into thin air. no muss, no fuss. it was a really gentle situation.

  13. Die and Become! Death in Dreams April 25, 2012 at 2:16 pm - Reply

    [...] What could be more poetic than a poop dream?What could be more poetic than a poop dream? That icky act we would rather not speak about was actually celebrated by the Alchemists. It’s what we need to let go of–what is repulsive and shameful— unconscious material that needs to be looked at and transformed. (see also Ryan’s article on urine dreams). [...]

  14. [...] [pullquote]What could be more poetic than a poop dream?[/pullquote]What could be more poetic than a poop dream? That icky act we would rather not speak about was actually celebrated by the Alchemists. It represents what we need to let go of–what is repulsive and shameful— unconscious material that needs to be looked at and transformed. (see also Ryan’s article on urine dreams). [...]

  15. Jose July 8, 2012 at 9:10 pm - Reply

    I once had a dream of me peeing in a tree and being attacked by crows at my college campus. it was weird

  16. Simone September 3, 2012 at 10:16 pm - Reply

    I read your story on your page an i’m very happy to see that other people have these dreams as well. But i do have a question, i’m 22 yrs old an have pee dreams an actually pee the bed..i just did it last night at a friends house luckily she didn’t notice an i would feel embarrassed if i told her. And im trying to figure out why its still going on after all these years, it used to happen all the time when i was a teenager even at my home, but now it seems like its only when i go out to a friends house and i know where the bathroom is. I’ll tell you how my dream went last night. I was in a bathroom stall sitting on the toilet an i was peeing like i had 3 gallons of water in me it would stop or slow down then pick up again and i wasn’t peeing in straight line it would go out of the toilet or light down the back of my leg or just all over the place (and this has happened in real life before as well) an then when its down i would realize i’m in a dream wake up an my bed is wet and im soaked. I don’t know what i can do to solve this embarrassing problem, but i hope you can help me or give me some suggestions on how to fix it.

    • Shelli October 7, 2012 at 4:18 am - Reply

      Simone, I experience my episodes in the same manner as you. It just happened a few hours ago. And even though no one saw, i feel soo embarrassed! My pee dream went like this..I was in my mother’s backyard for whatever reason and i had this incredible urge to go. The backyard is somewhat private so i choose her huge rose bush to release my load. As i begin to pee,which felt awesome in my dream, I was abruptly disturbed/interrupted by an out of no where Mexican lady that kept asking, “Is that u Shelli? ” So i run away thru the backdoor to the bathroom just in time. Once I get to the toilet I try to release again. And even though im sitting on the toilet, its not going in. The seat is wet, my legs, and pee besides the toilet. Just a piss festival! So something clicks and i wake up to see I’ve pissed myself!

  17. shana September 9, 2012 at 6:21 am - Reply

    Everytime i have a dream about peeing, i wake up from the dream and run to the bathroom bc im literally peeing on myself.

  18. Ian smith November 7, 2012 at 2:39 pm - Reply

    I just woke up this morning fom having a pee dream and even though i know this is my body telling me to wake as i need to go, it also seems wierd in where i go in my dreams, i go to the bathroom but instead of using the toliet there is a bath with a bed on it ……….everything is on there sheets, pillows etc but i decied to pee on the bed instead even though i know someone will be sleeping in it, when i realise my mistake i try to cover it all up but everything is wet through and then i hope that the person will not see it even though i can and i can smell it also…………these are very strange dreams and i do have the same one every time i need to go or if i have drunk a lot before going to bed :)

  19. Bridget December 12, 2012 at 6:51 pm - Reply

    I had a bladder problem as a kid. I would go to bed and wake up and I’d wet the bed. I didn’t know why. I just could never wake up and go or whatever. There was nothing I could do. When I got older though I had these dreams that I had to pee but couldn’t find the toilet. I would go to a bathroom but all the toilets were taken or something similar. I finally was able to use those dreams as a cue to wake up and go to the toilet and since I’ve mastered that I haven’t wet the bed since. I don’t think it’s how normal people over come it. I don’t have those dreams so much now. I just try to use the toilet before bed as much as possible.

  20. Eli Faen January 21, 2013 at 4:11 pm - Reply

    Hi Ryan
    I also enjoyed reading your peeing dream explanation, and can relate. I am an artist, and in the dream I had this morning, a tube of paint fell into the toilet when I was peeing. In the dream it belonged to whoever owned the house I was in, and I didn’t know if I should retrieve it or not.
    It definitely seems to refer to creativity.

    • Ryan Hurd January 21, 2013 at 4:59 pm - Reply

      thanks Eli! Interesting artistic conflict in that dream of yours… is this mine? can I “own” this process? can I keep a lid on this?

  21. Brian January 24, 2013 at 8:46 am - Reply

    …ugh…. A 32 year old man should have woke up in time. Instead, my dream was so convincingly real. It appears to me that I have a very large bladder. Why couldnt I get up? Ive had similar dreams before.

    • Ryan Hurd January 24, 2013 at 8:54 am - Reply

      hey Brian,
      if wetting the bed happens once in a blue moon, it’s not really a concern — could just be a sign to lower stress and drink less before hitting the sack. But if you’re noticing it happening more and more, there could be an underlying health issue brewing. worth checking out! more here:
      http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/adult-bed-wetting/AN00688

  22. Kelly C. February 3, 2013 at 2:12 am - Reply

    I’ve had similar recurring pee dreams for years! I’m usually going in a public restroom somewhere, but there is always a strange, often scary man lurking about in the stall next to mine or just outside. It’s really creepy and I’m usually pretty terrified when I awake. I always have to go when I wake up from these dreams so I always thought it was the sense of urgency that the man represented. Now I’m having second thoughts about the meaning of these dreams. I will definitely pay attention to what’s going on in my life when I have one of these dreams again.

  23. amy February 8, 2013 at 3:24 pm - Reply

    I just had a dream where I was taking a shower and I was peeing the shower and it became so much that it was up to my ankles. My husband was in the other room singing a song quite loud expressing himself and I was in the shower trying to get out of the pee pool crying. I was not ashamed of my own pee, I was frustrated and could not hold myself up out of the pool. I am still trying to sort it out. I relate to the most basic form of expression. Maybe how my need to express is flooding me and not affecting my husband at all since he just sits on the couch keeping himself happy no matter what is going on with me. hmm?.

  24. EE February 9, 2013 at 7:21 am - Reply

    In my recuring dream I don’t actually get to pee.
    I need to go – and I try to find a public bathroom somewhere – but when I find one – something always not right.

    I find a publick bathroom with lots of toilets – rows of them – but each end every one of the either – broken, or overflowing – or too dirty to use, or not private enough. And than I discover a whole lot of other rows of toilets on another side – but when I go to find one – the story is the same – no suitable toilet can be found.

    And so I go in search for another place. And I find another publick bathroom – maybe in a restaurant – or a Jim – or a schoole that I find, or a Musium. All kids of places.

    And when I find a nother bathroom – the situation is the same – and I can not find a suitable toilet to go in.

    And than I give up on the bathrooms and start looking for a private bush somehwer, or a secluded place no one can see me – and I think I find a place – but the moment I am preparing to go – lots of people appear – and I have to find a nother place.

    And so on and on and on – the dream lasts forever. And I keep finding differnt places I might be able to go in – but every time something is not right, and I have to look for another place.

    When I wake up – Most of the time I do have to go the the bathroom, but sometimes I don’t.

  25. Amy February 12, 2013 at 10:23 pm - Reply

    I am constantly having dreams where I have to pee. It’s really annoying actually. I wake up having to go pee really bad. In my dreams, I go pee, but then like 10 seconds later I have to pee again, and find another bathroom. Why I cant just go back into the one I just went in is beyond me, but its dream logic. The whole dream is me finding public bathrooms or a house with lots of different floors with lots of bathrooms. Like I said, when I finally wake up my bladder hurts I have to pee so bad. I don’t get why I don’t wake up when I have to go pee in the night.

  26. Maggie February 23, 2013 at 7:03 am - Reply

    I have pee dreams on a regular basis, most of them centered around not being able to find a location private enough to pee in (I am female). In the dreams, it doesn’t matter if it is a toilet or any other place that is secluded, because with the increasing urgency, I would gladly pee anywhere. But in the dreams I am often naked and too embarrassed to ask where the bathrooms are. Most of the time, I don’t actually pee in the dream, but lately I have started, tho the need just increases and never stops. I have never wet the bed from this, but have to always pee desperately upon waking.

  27. argenon March 14, 2013 at 10:57 am - Reply

    Very excellent article and post that really helped me start thinking.

    Intriguingly my pee dreams have nothing to do with embarrassment but more about innovation and confusion. In my dreams bathrooms are strange, very strange curious experimental malls with lots of rotating and moving gates, doors and curtains. I run for miles looking for the end often ending up in butchery grates, jumping balconies, and climbing up enormous stacks of amplifiers before ending up in the designated place: a velvet covered broken microscope.

    I am currently in real life struggling to find a engineering job, I have very high regards with every company that I have ever worked for and can write excellent cover letters that I suspect never reach human hands. Daily, I purposefully pursue positions in frustration, driving 1000s of miles to a potential position that turns out to be not available. Perhaps these dreams are related to stifled creativity and incapacity to show my own innovative spirit in the right place (ie. running 2.5 miles to the butchery – I am a vegan – to pee be cause I liked the security guards in that building and deciding it was the wrong place could be like driving an eternity to job postings that are mediocre but located in the secure locale of friends.

    Thank you-

  28. Lara April 2, 2013 at 6:01 am - Reply

    Interesting interpretation. I also find that I inevitably need to pee when I wake up from a pee dream, such as the one I had lat night. The difference in the dream last night from other times is that this time, I was actually on a toilet but it seemed to be covered in plastic wrap and my urine was pink, and when I was finished, I realized that the bathroom had become detached from the dock and started to float away down the river so I had to jump in the water and swim it back while my mom watched me and called for my brother to help me. I don’t remember if he actually did. I often have incredibly vivid dreams that frequently involve colour.

  29. Ana Casad0 April 6, 2013 at 6:14 am - Reply

    Last week I had 2 dreams. One I was peeing in a locker room shower but in my dream it was intended to be a facility to urinate. We were all just peeing in a circle around the drainage. We were all squatting. I was not embarrassed, I don’t know how while I was squatting peeing I squirt some pee on my friend that was with me out of some other friends that was peeing as well. I woke up
    2 days later I dream that I was sleeping in the bed with my son and he peed on the bed and I got all wet. I then woke up. No pee in real life.
    Can someone please help me with these dreams. Thanks :)

  30. Ellen May 25, 2013 at 1:10 am - Reply

    Aha, thank you for sharing this one! I just woke up from a dream where I had two situations of peeing… first in a bath as the water was running out, but someone walked in and I was very upset that this person (blank individual) would see my pee. So I tried to hide it and kind of hoped he/she says nothing… Then I found myself in a lab where I was working to fill in for a friend (no real life connection) and had to hide the fact that I had peed into a cup and was preforming complicated tests on my urine… but the idea of getting caught (lab partner was giving me a speach saying budget cuts have made personal lab work impossible and they are very strict with materials now) was making me rush the tests under the table while doing other lab work above the table to not look guilty… eventually I knew my pee testing wasn’t done but that it was all I could do, and I could only give a quick glance at the colour result after having added numerous chemicals… I was then in a bus with the same lab partner and I was putting on an act of being a nonchalant rebel just out for fun and finding the town boring and restrictive…
    This certainly works with the idea that pee represents creative expression! I’ve been driving myself insane with holding back and overanalysing ‘being myself’ in the town I’m in at the moment. Running a pointless treadmill of overanalysing and having a fear of being seen. As if suddenly being myself is a criminal act I don’t want to be cought in!
    I’ll take this as a kick in the butt to start expressing my ‘weirdness’ openly again!

  31. Jamaal Aberson June 8, 2013 at 6:47 pm - Reply

    Doctors don’t know for sure what causes bedwetting or why it stops. But it is often a natural part of development, and kids usually grow out of it. Most of the time bedwetting is not a sign of any deeper medical or emotional issues. All the same, bedwetting can be very stressful for families. Kids can feel embarrassed and guilty about wetting the bed and anxious about spending the night at a friend’s house or at camp. Parents often feel helpless to stop it.*^,*

    Until next time
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  32. amber June 27, 2013 at 3:31 pm - Reply

    Thanks for that post. When I was a kid my brother peeded in my front garden plants and I couldn’t get other it was scared to go in my garden. Then when I got older I had this dream that he peeded in every room in my house and was scared to go every one. And now the dream is recurring what do I do.

    • amber June 27, 2013 at 3:39 pm - Reply

      Going back to my other post.The thing is there was a toilet aswell in real life and he decided to pee in my garden and ruin my life.

      • Otter Pop August 13, 2013 at 5:51 am - Reply

        Incidentally, pee can actually cause your plants to flourish when mixed with water. :OP

  33. Cecile Casanova October 18, 2013 at 12:36 pm - Reply

    hi! I just dreamt of someone wringing her babies’ wet diapers on the floor of our bedroom. I am just wondering how this can be interpreted. Instead of confronting her, I asked my husband to talk to her.That was all.

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  35. Liza July 4, 2014 at 5:09 pm - Reply

    Thanks Ryan! You know what! I searched on this pee dreams because i dreamed this last night, and , guess what? I am writing my masteral thesis!!!!
    Hahaha!!! You are not alone!!!

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