I’ve always found morning wood to be a fascinating phenomenon when witnessed in my penis-bearing partners. After talking with a customer recently, we both realized that we had no idea what causes morning wood. Being the hard-hitting, on-my-beat journalist that I am, I decided to do some research.
Morning wood is actually a nighttime phenomenon known as Nocturnal Penile Tumescence (NPT). Apparently there is no concrete conclusion as to why it occurs, but some theories are more founded than others.
Morning wood is most commonly associated with periods of REM sleep.
Rapid-Eye Movement (REM) sleep is associated with the inhibition of the production of certain neurotransmitters. The neurotransmitter thought to be linked to these boners is called norepinephrine. Among many things, norepinephrine is responsible for a process called vasoconstriction, the restriction of blood flow. When we enter REM sleep, the production of norepinephrine decreases. This means blood flow is no longer inhibited by norepinephrine, so REM sleep is associated with increased blood flow throughout the body. For penis-having people, this includes the penis.
Morning wood is more of a side-effect of this process, rather than being the main purpose. When blood flow increases, reparative oxygenated blood circulates throughout the body. After a long day of harvesting, hunting, and child-rearing (and FUCKING), our ancestors needed this oxygenated blood to repair any damaged cells. It still serves the same purpose today, even though our lifestyles are generally less physically demanding.
Another interesting thing I learned about bedtime boners is that they happen several times per night. This is because humans enter REM sleep 3-5 times each night. Penis-havers without physiological impediments to boners tend to wake up with these because humans tend to awaken out of the REM part of the sleep cycle.
(This also occurs in people with clitorises!)
Regarding the testosterone theory
I think penis-havers use their testosterone to incorrectly justify a lot of things (like being aggressive), but apparently there is some reliable science behind the theory that testosterone causes boners. In studies wherein participants were given synthetic hormones that mimic the body’s natural testosterone, more NPT was yielded in terms of both circumference and rigidity. Because testosterone levels are highest in the morning, it makes sense that the findings from NPT studies would translate to morning wood.
I thoroughly enjoyed doing this research and writing this article, because I got to think about really nice boners for like… an hour.
The next time you find yourself with a case of nocturnal penile tumescence, let me relieve the pressure.
I’m gonna go masturbate now.