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Men's Health Sex & Relationships

What causes morning wood?

Whether you prefer to call it your “morning wood,” “morning erection,” or “morning boner,” plenty of us are familiar with waking up with a hard-on.

Known medically as nocturnal penile tumescence (NPT), that feeling of morning wood isn’t necessarily associated with a sex dream, but instead a normal function of the male reproductive system.

Regular boners in the morning are a healthy sign that the blood supply and nerves to your dick are functioning well. So although waking up with your dick pointing at the ceiling may feel a slight inconvenience at times, it is most definitely a good thing.

If you start to notice your morning erections become far less regular, however, it can be an indication of erectile dysfunction (ED) or another underlying health issue. Erectile dysfunction involves having issues getting or maintaining an erection.

Not experiencing morning wood can also suggest other issues with the blood supply or nerves down below – so it’s worth keeping an eye on any changes.

If you’re struggling to get some quality shut-eye, your morning boner can also be affected. Aside from getting enough sleep at night, a hormonal imbalance – such as a decrease in testosterone – can also affect the regularity of your morning wood.

Naturally, as men age, it’s common to experience that feeling of a morning erection less often. But it’s important to note this is usually a gradual change, alongside your hormones shifting as a man ages. If you notice a drastic change in the number of times you experience a boner in the morning, make an appointment with your GP to put your mind at ease.

What is morning wood?

Although you may think sex is always on your mind, NPT (aka, your morning wood) is not a typical erection – as it has no relation to sexual thoughts, dreams or other stimulation.

Instead, your morning glory is simply a result of your sleep cycles and a sign of healthy nerves and blood flow.

If you’ve ever tried to track your sleep cycles, you’ll be familiar with a phase of sleep known as rapid eye movement (REM) – This is when your morning boner tends to happen. I bet your sleep app didn’t tell you that!

During an 8-hour sleep cycle, REM occurs multiple times. As you enter a phase of deep sleep, your boner may go away on its own. This means that while you’re sleeping, you may experience multiple erections, although you’ll more than likely be blissfully unaware.

Usually, a person will wake up at the end of a REM sleep cycle, explaining why NPT tends to happen in the morning. Testosterone levels are naturally elevated first thing in the morning, too.

Your morning wood and your usual hard-on caused by arousal can be physically different, with studies finding that some men experienced pain from morning wood, but not during their usual erections.

How frequently should morning wood occur?

Morning wood – or NPT – can occur in men of various ages, including children to older adults. Often, younger adults who experience high levels of testosterone – especially during puberty – will experience morning erections more often than older people or children. Young adult males may experience morning erections each morning, as well as multiple times throughout a night’s sleep.

Sexual maturity tends to peak when men are in their late teens to late 30s, and this is usually when higher levels of testosterone are also recorded. It is completely normal for men in this age range to experience regular morning erections.

As your 40s and 50s approach, you may begin to see fewer occurrences of morning wood. This usually corresponds with your body’s testosterone levels naturally shifting. The regularity of your morning erections should decline gradually, however, not come to a sudden halt.

As well as natural ageing factors, a hormonal imbalance can also affect your equipment down below, resulting in few or no episodes of morning boners. So, although pitching up a tent in the morning can be irritating at times, regular erections in the morning are actually an important indicator of healthy male sexual organs.

Researchers have found that men with hypogonadism – a condition where the testes fail to produce sufficient levels of testosterone – experienced an increase of morning wood after receiving testosterone therapy.

A lack of quality sleep has been known to affect your typical erection, and studies suggest your quality of sleep can impact the occurrence of morning wood, too. If you’re not getting enough rest, you may not be entering the REM cycle, therefore not experiencing nocturnal erections.

In one study, 61 men with obstructive sleep apnea and erectile dysfunction had more frequent morning wood as the result of high-quality sleep.

Another study noted morning wood as an indicator of hormonal or sexual health, especially during the treatment of erectile dysfunction.

For example, if a man regularly gets an erection in the morning (and often during sleep) but cannot get a hard-on during sex, doctors can quickly dismiss any issues regarding blood flow or nerve responses.

Often, erectile dysfunction can occur due to psychological factors, including anxiety or depression. This can then be treated accordingly once the likely cause has been discovered.

When to visit your GP regarding morning wood

How to orgasm without ejaculation

As both an indicator of sexual health and quality sleep, morning wood is worth paying attention to. If you begin to notice morning erections far less frequently, book yourself in with your GP.

A lack of wood in the morning can also be a symptom of erectile dysfunction. ED can also highlight other serious underlying health issues, including diabetes, high blood pressure or heart disease. But don’t worry, a health professional can help treat these conditions.

It’s not just your overall health that can impact your morning wood, but certain medications too – such as antidepressants. If you’ve noticed changes in your morning erections, or they’ve stopped entirely, some of these medications could be to blame:

  • Diuretics
  • Antidepressants
  • Seizure medications
  • Hormonal medications
  • Chemotherapy drugs
  • Muscle relaxers
  • Medication for high blood pressure
  • Histamine H2 agonists

If you’ve recently changed or started a new medication and you’ve noticed changes in the frequency of your morning hard-on, you may wish to discuss this with your GP as this could be a side effect.

How to power up your morning wood

Getting an erection in the morning is a totally normal and healthy signal that your body is, well, doing what it should.

If you notice any significant changes in your morning boners, it may be time to talk to your GP – as this could be a sign of erectile dysfunction. Morning wood is hugely linked to testosterone levels, the natural hormone that can be a significant driver behind your libido.

A healthy lifestyle, regular exercise and quality sleep can all help to improve your overall sexual health and boost your testosterone levels.

But, if you’re looking for a little extra strength below the belt, Male Extra’s powerful combination of safe, proven and natural ingredients will increase the size, hardness and sustainability of your hard-ons. By improving blood flow to your penis, you can get back to hitching a tent in the morning in no time.