Nocturnal Erections and “Morning Wood”
What is a nocturnal erection?
A nocturnal erection is an erection that happens when you’re not thinking about have any sex. This is something that happens on its own. It’s just kind of a reflex that your body has to increase blood flow into the penis. This happens most of the time when you’re very relaxed. Sometimes it could happen during the day if you’re very relaxed. Or it can happen mostly at night, especially during the REM sleep cycle.
During the deep sleep phase, the REM sleep phase, there are some hormonal fluctuations in guys, including a surge in testosterone, that lead to nocturnal penile tumescence. Also known as morning wood.
This is a physiologic erection that happens in the middle of the night that corresponds to hormone shifts during that deep sleep.
What the frequency of nocturnal erections means
One of the most simple ways to look at hormone balances is to consider a morning erection, a nocturnal erection, typically at least four to five nights out of the week.
Just because you didn’t get one one morning might mean you didn’t catch it, you didn’t wake up in time, or it didn’t happen. But, in general, about four to five of these nocturnal erections are considered normal and healthy. Morning wood indicates both adequate sleep and a good hormone balance.
The “Stamp Test” or NPT for nocturnal erections
If you’re not waking up and catching them, you can do a test at home called the “stamp test.” You basically take a short series of stamps that are from a roll and you wet them and apply them around the base of your penis prior to going to sleep. In the morning, if you wake up and the scoring is torn between them, most likely you got a woody.
The medical equivalent of the stamp test is called NPT or Nocturnal Penile Tumescence Testing. This consists of a recording device, kind of like a Holter monitor for the heart that’s worn at night with the ring around the penis that measures its diameter changing overnight in those nocturnal variations.
Get more REM sleep for healthier erections
Basically you want to get between six to eight hours of total sleep which usually leads to about three to five hours of that deep rapid eye movement or REM sleep, to sort of recharge and regenerate those essential functions, including that limbic system, that arousal system that’s so vital to erectile function.
So REM sleep’s really important when it comes to nocturnal erections. If you’re drinking light alcohol, probably more than three drinks per night, you’re going to really decrease the amount of REM sleep that you get per night. That’s going to decrease the amount of these nocturnal erections, these erections that happen physiologically and has nothing to do with your brain function.
But if these things are not happening, your erectile function’s not going to be good when you really want to perform.
Sleep is so important to ED and your overall health
Sleep is so important for your overall health, and especially for ED. If you’re not getting adequate sleep, let’s say at least seven to nine hours of sleep per day, that’s going to decrease your testosterone levels. If you’re drinking alcohol before you go to sleep, let’s say more than two to three drinks, that’s going to affect your rapid eye movement sleep. That’s called your REM sleep. It’s one of the most important aspects of sleep that you can get. REM sleep is when you actually have those nocturnal erections. Deep sleep is another part.
A lot of people will sleep for a long time, but if they’re drinking alcohol, if they’re doing drugs, if they’re under a lot of stress, they’re not going to get enough deep sleep. REM sleep and deep sleep are very restorative for the body and the brain.
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