I was having a beer with an old friend the other day and for whatever reason, we ended up talking about boners. After all, boners are funny, and they’re good fodder for Friday evening bar conversation. So, yes, boner talk. Here we go.

“Worst boner ever?” I asked.

“Every morning,” he replies.

Turns out he gets morning wood every day. While I am quite familiar with the condition, I was fascinated by the fact that he had to deal with this every single morning. Was it because he wasn’t getting enough? Was it because his body was keeping him from peeing on himself? Was the body just moving blood throughout itself naturally to keep tissues from dying off?

Why do we have to deal with morning wood? So many questions!

Whatever the reasons, I was going to get to the bottom of the morning wood phenomenon.

So why do we get morning wood?
Is it because of a really good dream? Do we get hard in our sleep to keep us from wetting the bed (Ever try to pee with a boner? Not fun.)? All of these reasons are possible, and science hasn’t exactly prioritized this phenomenon, but I did a little digging for those of you who are as curious as I was.

As you likely know, the body goes through a series of sleep cycles. During REM sleep, your body goes through some self checks, one of which disrupts neurotransmitters that inhibit erection. Without those chemicals, testosterone plasma concentration spikes, and… hello sleep boner (science calls it “nocturnal tumescence”).

Sight? Check. Sound? Check. Reproduction? Check. Wake up during REM sleep? You’ve got morning wood. In short, the longer you sleep, the more REM cycles you’ll go through, the higher chance you’ll wake up with morning wood. Seems my buddy gets more sleep than I do.

By the way, it turns out that regular release—be it nocturnal or manual—improves the overall health of sperm. In fact, studies have shown that men who abstain from sex for 10 days or more showed conception rates of only 3%. Sperm tends to die and get reabsorbed if it doesn’t have anything to do within 7-10 days. Bonus fact: regular masturbation has also been shown to reduce prostate cancer. So, yeah, go ahead, guys: Do your thing. This is the future we’re talking about here.

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