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Is it Normal to Get Erections First Thing in the Morning?

Is it Normal to Get Erections First Thing in the Morning?

Why do men have erections in the morning? Is morning wood normal?

Morning wood and morning erections are both normal and common. So, too, are nighttime erections.

A lot of men will experience both morning wood, also known as nocturnal penile tumescence (NPT) and erections in the night. In fact, it’s likely that if you wake up with morning wood, this is only the last erection in a series of erections you’ve experienced in the night.

They are, simply, spontaneous erections that occur while you sleep or as you wake up.

On this page, we’ll discuss why morning erections happen and the science behind them, what’s normal and what is less so, and whether there is any link between morning wood and erectile dysfunction.

Daniel Atkinson
Medically reviewed by
Daniel Atkinson, Clinical Reviewer
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Medically reviewed by
Dr Daniel Atkinson
Clinical Reviewer
on September 27, 2022.
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What is morning wood and why does it happen?

Erections can also happen in the night without our even being aware. But why do men have erections in the morning and what causes morning wood? Unfortunately, the causes of morning erections are not fully understood, and are thought to be multifactorial. But there are some popular theories:

The theory The details
Rapid eye movement (REM) theory Perhaps the most popular theory explaining morning wood surrounds the rapid eye movement (REM) stage of sleep. Hormone levels rise and fall naturally all the time. But it has been posited that levels of testosterone, a male sex hormone, peak at the conclusion of the REM stage of sleep — just as you wake up. Despite no physical stimulation, it is proposed that this increase in testosterone is enough to give you an erection. Testosterone levels gradually decrease the older we get, which may explain why episodes of morning erections, or NPT, are reported less in older men.
Sympathetic pathway suppression During sleep, your sympathetic pathway is suppressed and your parasympathetic pathway is activated — this pathway is responsible for erections and may explain nocturnal erections and morning wood.
Nighttime stimulation Our bodies are very good at feeling stimulated even when our eyes are shut and we’re asleep. For example, if you (or a partner) accidentally touch or graze your genitals in the night, your body will react and you may become erect. We also move around randomly in the night, which may stimulate the genitals too, especially if you sleep on your front.
Brain is relaxed One theory suggests that when we’re awake, hormones are released which suppress erections. However, when we sleep, the brain is relaxed and so does not release these hormones or send these chemical signals. So morning wood gets more likely.

It’s easier to rule out what doesn’t cause morning wood. Some people believe erections happen at night time as a mechanism to prevent urination while we sleep, but this isn’t true. Experts are also confident that nighttime erections are not related to dreams.

Whatever the reason, most medical professionals and sexual health experts agree: morning and nighttime erections are not only normal, but may actually be indicative of good health and that everything is working as it should be.

Should I have a morning erection every day?

For the average, healthy man, morning wood, or NPT, happens regularly and is common. However, some men don’t often wake with an erection and this is also usually nothing to worry about. This is because erections might have occurred several times in the night, you just haven’t woken with one.

However, if you think you rarely, if ever, get morning wood or erections in the night, this could point to a more serious health problem and it might be worth taking up with your doctor. But don’t forget, the older you are, the less likely you will be to experience morning erections. It happens less with age.

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How long does morning wood last?

For the average healthy man, NPT can happen between three and five times a night, and last between 25 and 35 minutes at a time.

When you wake up, you become aware of what’s happening around you. So, if you need to get up and start your day, your erection should subside after roughly half an hour. If you notice that you’re still hard after two hours, and you feel pain or swelling, you should consider seeing a medical professional.

What if I don’t get morning erections: is that normal?

If you sometimes wake up with no morning erection or don’t have morning wood, this is usually nothing to worry about. It could just be that you were asleep when your erection subsided.

However, if you don’t have morning wood at all, don’t think you get nighttime erections or you’ve stopped getting morning wood, this could potentially point to a problem such as erectile dysfunction.

When is a morning erection a health problem?

Morning erections are usually nothing to worry about, and may actually prove that everything is working in order. Morning wood means good health in a lot of instances.

However, it can become a problem if you have morning wood that doesn’t go away and feels painful or swollen. This is known as priapism, and can be caused by certain medications such as blood-thinning treatments, antidepressants, blood pressure medicines and recreational drug use. It can also be caused by certain health conditions including blood disorders.

As a rule of thumb, if you have an erection that lasts for more than two hours and it feels painful or swollen (regardless of whether you’ve taken ED medication) call 911 or get yourself down to the hospital.

However, priapism should normally start to get better within two hours. Here are some tips on how to get rid of morning wood:

  • Try to go for a pee;
  • Have a warm bath or shower;
  • Drink lots of water;
  • Go for a gentle walk;
  • Try exercises, such as squats or running on the spot;
  • Take painkillers like acetaminophen if you need to.

Is it normal to get erections during sleep?

Yes, it’s perfectly normal to get erections during the night. In fact, it demonstrates that everything is working as it should — that the blood vessels in the penis are healthy, and so too is the vascular system which delivers blood to the corpus cavernosum. Night time erections are also common, affecting most men three to five times a night.

Men who get erections during sleep are generally considered not to be at risk in terms of erectile health. Furthermore, “since good heart health is associated with an ability to have erections, the presence of nocturnal erections is generally accepted to be good news. ” So if you think you may be sleeping with an erection, or you’ve found yourself waking up with one, you have nothing to worry about.

What is nocturnal penile tumescence (NPT)?

Simply, nocturnal penile tumescence (NPT) is the scientific name for morning erections or morning wood. Tumescence being defined as “a larger than normal state in a part of the body, especially caused by sexual excitement.

NPT is a phenomenon occurring in men where they experience one or several erections during the night, and is often associated with the rapid eye movement (REM) stage of sleep.

Should I worry about nocturnal erections?

The general consensus among experts and researchers is that nocturnal erections are nothing to worry about. Because erections depend on good heart and cardiovascular health, getting them at night or as you wake up is more than likely a positive sign.

However, you should see a doctor after 2 hours if you have an erection that doesn’t go away and is painful, or after 4 hours with an erection where there is no pain.

Morning erections, NPT and ED: Is there a link?

If you experience erectile dysfunction and the causes are physical, such as blood vessel damage, circulation problems or issues with the heart or blood, then it is likely you will not experience NPT, or morning erections. This is because, in theory, it should be physically difficult to attain an erection regardless of the time and whether you’re asleep or not.

NPT occurs mostly at night while you sleep, it’s only as you come to the end of your restless eye movement (REM) stage of sleep that you typically wake and so may notice the last erection in a series of nighttime erections (morning glory).

If you don’t ever experience morning erections, this isn’t to say you don’t experience NPT while you sleep. Several health services have created an NPT test that can be performed to ascertain whether you were erect in the night.

Here’s how it works. One electronic ring is placed at the base of the penis, and a second at the tip. These devices record movement and monitor nocturnal erections. They can even show how many you had, for how long and how rigid they were.

According to the UK’s NHS, “NPT testing is helpful when we are trying to determine a cause for erectile dysfunction, especially in young men. NPT testing is also used in research for men with prolonged erections (priapism) and other conditions potentially affecting erectile function.

What does it mean if I get morning wood but still have ED?

NPT tests can be useful because they can help to decipher the type of erectile dysfunction a person may be suffering with. Specifically, an NPT test could separate physical, or organic ED, from that which is psychogenic in nature.

For example, take a healthy young man who struggles with something like depression and is unable to perform sexually and become erect because of this. While he sleeps, he may still experience healthy erections because he is no longer conscious of his mental health illness while he’s asleep.

So if you have morning wood but still have ED, this could be a sign that your erectile dysfunction symptoms are more psychological than physical.

Can you have NPT and ED at the same time?

It is possible to experience erectile dysfunction and NPT at the same time. This is particularly true if ED symptoms are caused physically, from things like poor heart health or conditions which may impact the vascular system and circulation.

However, if you never wake up with a morning erection, it’s impossible to say with certainty that you didn’t experience any erections while you slept. For that reason, it can be worth discussing an NPT test with your doctor.


Talking to someone about ED

If you want to learn more about the link between NPT, morning wood and erectile dysfunction, or you have questions about your ED symptoms, you can get help right here at Treated. We work with registered clinicians and sexual health experts who can chat with you about your health and symptoms. If you feel comfortable, you can answer some basic questions about your health and they may recommend ED medication. You can also subscribe to a tailored health plan, where we’ll ship your treatment regularly and make ourselves regularly available should you have questions.

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