It is known by many names: Morning glory, Morning wood, wake up stiffy.. And half of the world’s population has experienced it. You wake up every few mornings with your male reproductive captain standing for attention. While the situation may be embarrassing for some or simply uncomfortable and/or pleasantly surprising for some, it is a phenomenon that is definitely worth looking into. Which is something scientists have been doing.
Clinically termed Nocturnal Penile Tumescence (NPT), is an involuntary erection that happens during the sleep cycle or when waking up. Unless a man suffers from erectile dysfunction, this symptom occurs more or less regularly in a man’s lifetime and between three and five times in a single complete sleep session.
These surprise erections are traced back to the early development of the individual and have been shown to occur even in utero and to continue throughout life. And although it’s not externally visible, the same thing happens to women with vaginal engorgement as well as with various other mammal species.
Science has not yet been able to definitely pinpoint the reason that NPT happens but there are a few theories out there. One theory suggests that Rapid Eye Movement (REM) releases a neurotransmitter that inhibits testosterone-dependent tones that result in an erection. Another theory associates the phenomenon with Nitric Oxide which is released by nerve fibers during REM among the many things that REM triggers. This Oxide helps in relaxing the blood vessels, allowing blood to flow to the penis therefore causing an erection.
Yet another theory calls the bladder to cause saying that a full bladder might be behind the surprise appearance in order to prevent bed wetting, but that is somehow unlikely since the body has a plethora of devices that prevent such accidents.
While we are still unsure about the workings of the phenomenon, we know for sure that morning wood helps to oxygenate the penile tissue and prevent cavernous fibrosis which is a condition known to ultimately lead to erectile dysfunction.