Nocturnal penile tumescence (NPT) commonly known by the term Morning wood, is a phenomenon that occurs from time to time when you wake up with an erect penile. This occurs among men of all ages, although this experience is more common in younger men.
You may experience an erection suddenly in the middle of the night or in the early morning hours while you are still sleeping. With that being the case, you may often wake up with an erection that is not caused due to deliberate sexual stimulation.
Our parasympathetic nervous system consists of nerves arising from the brain and the lower end of the spinal cord and supplying the internal organs, blood vessels, and glands. It is involved in sexual arousal and generally becomes active when we are asleep. Men might often get spontaneous erections several times throughout the night. You will notice it once you wake up.
Is Morning Erection Something To Worry About?
Men tend to think that morning erection is a sign of sexual arousal. However, that is not the possibility always. Probably, it is the response your body has to one of several natural stimulations. As soon as you wake up in the morning, your testosterone levels are higher which is generally normal in the case of younger men. Higher testosterone levels influence blood flow in the reproductive organs.
There is no need to worry about waking up with an erection. Getting erections during sleep is normal. You may have multiple erections each night while you sleep and you might not even be aware of that.
Incidences of a morning erection will keep changing throughout our lives, generally becoming less frequent as we age. It can also get affected by general health, stress levels, and sleep patterns.
Moreover, in case you are diagnosed with the symptoms of erectile dysfunction, or low libido (sexual desire) but still, you are waking up with an erection, it is better to talk to your doctor. A doctor can help assess the exact reason behind the situation and identify in case there is an underlying problem.
Why Does A Morning Erection Happen?
Your parasympathetic system is active while you are sleeping, especially during Rapid eye movement sleep (REM). When you enter REM sleep, your brain activity increases again, leading you to the waking up state. In the REM sleep stage, your sleep is not as deep and the activity levels are like when you are fully awake. As a result, you are more likely to wake up while you have an erection.
Remember that, your early morning erection is not often caused by sexual dreams. In the sleep state, your body might undergo hormonal changes that signal your body to send blood to your penile.
Causes Of Morning Erection
NPT is dependent on several factors. However, doctors still do not have firm medical grounds that can help explain exactly why men wake up with an erect penile every morning, but some theories can be evident that may include:
- Unintentional Physical Stimuli
Even though you are in a sleep state your body is still awake and aware of the happenings in your proximity. Your partner might accidentally touch or rub your genitals which leads to an erection. In such a way, your body senses the stimulation and as a result, responds with an erection.
- Brain Function Activation
Right before you wake up, your body releases the hormones that were suppressed during the deep sleep state. This sudden release of hormones leads to a morning erection. Also, it is not a result of dreams.
- Hormonal Fluctuations
As soon as you wake up in the morning, your testosterone levels are at their peak. It reaches optimal levels immediately after you transition from the REM sleep stage. This hormone alone is responsible for erection, even in the absence of any physical stimulation.
The natural testosterone levels in men begin to fall as they get older, around 40 and 50 years of age. The episodes of morning erections start decreasing with increasing age.
What Do The Experts Say About Morning Erection?
According to experts, your sacral nerve might be the reason behind an erection. When your bladder is full, it may put pressure on this nerve, leading to activation of the parasympathetic nervous system which induces an erection.
Men usually get an erection just by thinking about anything sexual. However, younger boys during their adolescent period can get random erections. Sometimes you might as well experience a nighttime erection which usually happens because of any kind of stimulation.
At What Age Do You Get Morning Erections?
NPT is experienced by men of all ages and it is completely healthy at any age. It signifies the proper functioning of the vascular system around the penile as well as the nervous system.
Male children as young as infants may as well experience NPT. It may still occur in men in their 70s. However, it becomes less frequent when men start experiencing erectile dysfunction issues as sexual function starts weakening with increasing age.
Surprisingly, some men may experience an erection for a prolonged duration as long as 2 hours during their sleep. Most erections will ease within a few minutes of waking up.
When Is The Need To Contact A Doctor?
Generally, morning wood is observed to be a sign of the proper functioning of your reproductive organs. It indicates that everything in your body is in optimal condition. However, you may need to contact your doctor in case your morning erection lasts beyond an hour.
An erection lasting for more than 4 hours is not normal and this condition is termed Priapism. It is not caused due to sexual stimulation. It can be painful and might need immediate treatment.
In most cases, morning erections usually last for a few minutes, but in some cases, may stay as long as 35 minutes to 2 hours.
NPT or morning wood is an indication of a healthy function of the male body. It is a sure sign of overall health. However, if you see a sudden change in the frequency of your night time erections, you might immediately see a doctor that can help you in recognizing any sexual malfunction due to any underlying health condition.