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Reason men regularly get 'morning wood'

Reason men regularly get 'morning wood'

Experts have explained why men regularly have erections when they wake up in the morning, and it has little to do with arousal

Morning wood, breakfast boner, dawn horn, or nocturnal penile tumescence to use its more formal name - whatever you want to call it, a lot of men start the day with an erection.

The good news is, it’s perfectly normal and is actually a sign that everything’s in good working order down there.

As for why it happens, well we’re going to have to get into a bit of science for that.

You might be surprised to know it has absolutely nothing to do with being aroused.

It’s actually down to the way the body moves between different phases of sleep, according to Sergio Diez Alvarez, director of medicine at The Maitland, Kurri Kurri Hospital and the University of Newcastle.

He wrote in a 2016 piece for The Conversation: "Sleep is made up of several cycles of REM - rapid eye movement - and non-REM (deep) sleep.

"During REM sleep, there is a shift in the dominant system that’s activated.”

When we move into REM sleep, we transition from sympathetic (fight or flight) stimulation to parasympathetic (rest and digest) stimulation, and this has an impact on our private parts.

This can happen while we’re asleep, with men experiencing up to five erections per night. The reason we get one in the morning is that we tend to wake up out of REM sleep.

But that’s not all, there are actually several factors that might explain a morning erection.

The guy's just woken up from some parasympathetic sleep.
Getty Stock Images

Spiking testosterone levels are one key factor, with Alvarez explaining: “Testosterone, which is at its highest level in the morning, has also been shown to enhance the frequency of nocturnal erections.

"Interestingly, testosterone has not been found to greatly impact visual erotic stimuli or fantasy-induced erections.

"These are predominantly driven by the 'reward system' of the brain which secretes dopamine."

Finally, and perhaps more prosaically, morning wood could be the body’s way of telling us we need to pee.

Why do men wake up with erections?
Getty Stock Images

Alvarez said: “The unconscious sensation of the full bladder stimulates nerves that go to the spine and these respond directly by generating an erection (a spinal reflex).”

According to Kate Moyle, a sex and relationship expert for LELO, morning glory is ‘actually a sign of healthy circulation and nervous system activity’, and if it suddenly stops it might be a sign of underlying issues.

She said: “If these morning erections suddenly stop then it can be an indicator of an underlying health condition. And it's worth discussing with your doctor."

So the short answer is, morning wood is a slightly mysterious side effect of the processes the body goes through while we sleep, and is ultimately nothing to worry about.

Featured Image Credit: Getty Stock Photos

Topics: Health, Sex and Relationships, Science