WAKING up with “morning glory” is part and parcel of being a bloke. While it might be a bit awkward if you bump into housemates first thing, having a morning erection is actually good for you.
In fact, it’s usually a sign that your body is nice and healthy.
Also known as nocturnal penile tumescence (NPT) has nothing to do with feeling sexually aroused or having a sex dream.
It’s actually just a normal function of your reproductive system.
If you’re waking up with regular erections, then that’s a sign that your nerves and blood supply are healthy.
In fact, if you’re not waking up with an erection regularly, that’s when you should start to worry.
Because not having regular NPT can be indicative of a health issue like erectile dysfunction, hormonal imbalance or poor blood supply.
The NHS says that a healthy man has up to five erections during the night, with each one lasting 25-35 minutes.Whatever their cause, most doctors agree that night-time erections are a sign that everything is in working order.
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Morning erection means you’re sleeping well
Studies have suggested that waking up aroused may be linked to sleep quality.
NPT happens when you are in the stage of sleep known as rapid eye movement or REM – which may happen several times during the night.
That means that you’re probably having a number erections in your sleep.
Most of the time, you wake up at the end of a REM sleep cycle, which is why NPT seems to happen in the morning.
It’s during that time that we dream and our brains are most active. It’s then that we improve our memory.
As you get older, you spend less of your sleep in REM – which may explain why people’s memory gets worse as they age.
Your body is paralysed during REM but blood is still pumped around. The fact that nothing else is moving may explain why an involuntary movement like having an erection might happen.
Hormones play a role in erection
As well as sleep, hormones may have something to do with your morning glory.
Hormonal changes during the night can cause your member to stand to attention.
If you’re not getting nighttime erections, that could be a sign that you’ve got a hormonal imbalance.
Writing in The Conversation, Sergio Alvarez from the University of Medicine says: “Penile erections occur in response to complex effects of the nervous system and endocrine system (the glands that secrete hormones into our system) on the blood vessels of the penis.
“Several hormones are involved in influencing the brain’s response, such as testosterone (the main male hormone).
“This same mechanism can occur without the involvement of the brain, in an uncontrolled reflex action that is in the spinal cord. This explains why people with spinal cord damage can still get erections and why you can get erections when not sexually aroused.”
He explains that testosterone is at its highest level in the morning and increases how often you wake up with erections.
Interestingly, however, you don’t get testosterone spikes when you’re actually turned on by erotic things.
So hormone erections are exclusively nighttime movements.
They often go away after you’ve peed
Notice how your erection seems to go down once you’ve had your first pee of the day?
Some suggest that “pitching a tent” may be a natural way of alerting men to the fact that their bladders need emptying.
But Sergio believes that” 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).”
If you don’t get them, you may want to see your GP
Morning erections can be inconvenient but they really are a good sign.
If you’re not getting them, then you may want to get checked out.
If NPT suddenly stops or happens much less frequently, it could down to a sleep disorder, hormonal imbalance, erectile dysfunction or anxiety.
Dr Sarah Jarvis, GP and clinical director of patient.info, told The Sun that ED is “extremely common – some studies suggest it might affect as many as two in five men over 40”.
“But as well as being a cause of issues in the bedroom, it can be an early warning sign of heart disease, so it’s very important to get yourself checked out by your GP.
“They’ll have seen it all before so please don’t be embarrassed.”
As with everything, it’s all about what’s normal for you.
If you notice anything change – too many or too few morning erections, go to your GP.
And in the meantime, rest assured that it’s totally normal to wake up packing a little extra wood.