Morning erection: no morning wood? What it means for your health

morning erection o-boy o-diaries

Morning erections can actually reveal a lot about your health. Author Tom Wells explores the hidden meanings of morning wood…

We’ve all woken up with a morning erection before. In fact, most of us have probably never stopped to think why. As it turns out, morning glory, or lack thereof, can be a powerful health indicator for conditions like erectile dysfunction (ED). So, let’s see what you need to know about morning erections, and how you can ensure your erection is strong and healthy.

Why do men get morning erections?

To answer this question, we need to get a bit sciency. But it’s worth it because it’s really interesting, so bear with me.

Reliable penis facts are hard to come by. For example there has been a lot of research into the average erect penis size, without many donclusions. But researchers seem to have cracked the why men are waking up with erections. The prevailing view in the scientific community is that sleep is the cause of morning erections.

But first a quick aside: there are two main types of nerve systems in the body: the parasympathetic nerves (“rest and digest” nerves), and the sympathetic nerves (“flight and fight” nerves).

When we sleep we go through different phases. As we enter what is known as REM sleep (rapid eye movement, the phase in which we dream) the dominant nerve system transitions from sympathetic to parasympathetic. It’s believed that this change in dominant nerve system causes a parasympathetic nerve response which results in an erection.

But this still doesn’t explain why we wake up with a morning erection. The average adult has up to five REM cycles per night. For each REM cycle, the parasympathetic nerve response causes an erection that lasts 20-30 minutes. This means when you wake up you are actually waking up with the fifth erection of the night.

Morning erections as a health indicator

But morning erections aren’t just an interesting bodily phenomenon. They can actually be an important health indicator.

Steven Lamm, Medical Director at the NYU Center for Men’s Health put it like this: “If I could only ask one question to determine the state of a man’s general health, I’d ask if he gets morning erections.” Lamm believes that there is a correlation between morning erection and heart health as well as erectile dysfunction (ED) Of course, this is not definitive. You can be perfectly healthy without getting a morning erection, it is just an indicator.

Keep track of your morning erections

This means that keeping track of your morning erections can be quite a good measure of your general health. You can do this manually by recording each time you get a morning wood. But we live in a tech-savvy world and of course there is a morning erection logging app, called  Morning Glory. According to the makers of the app, getting three morning erections in a row is a pretty good sign that your body is working as it should. But if you start to notice that you are going three, four, or five days without your dawn horn, it may be time to examine what could be going wrong. So let’s see some common reasons for lack of morning wood, and what you can do to fix it.

What should you do if you wake up with no morning erection?

Firstly, don’t panic. There are plenty of reasons why this could be happening. Just because you are struggling to get an erection, or getting weaker erections does not mean you have ED.

Some of the possible causes of lack of morning erection can include:

  • Poor diet —  eating too many fatty and processed foods can affect the blood flow to your penis. Try and increase the amount of more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes and to eat less fatty, fried, and processed foods. Some foods like cherries are thought to help blood flow.
  • Lack of sleep/tiredness /exhaustion —  lack of sleep and working (and partying) too hard can affect all your bodily functions, erections are no exception. Try to make sure you get a good night’s sleep where possible, and keep stress levels to a minimum.
  • Lack of general arousal/ low libido /low sex drive —  one increasingly common reason for lack of arousal is through overstimulation/desensitization from porn. Try skipping porn for a couple of weeks and see if you notice an uptick
  • Lack of physical fitness —  exercise helps blood flow and muscle strength, both important for healthy erections. Try and exercise where you can and you may find it to be an effective libido enhancer.

So improving any of these factors may improve the problem, or even make it disappear. But if you do feel that all aspects of your life are healthy, and that you can’t find an explanation, then it may be time to talk to a medical professional about your symptoms. A doctor will be able to help find the cause and offer solutions.

Stress and erection quality

Another key factor that can affect your erection quality is stress. Whether it’s work, student loans or just life in general we all get stressed. Your body acquires stress every day and stores this energy. Two ways to quickly reduce stress and improve your erections are yoga, which can help the blood flow to the penis, improve core strength; and meditation which can improve mindfulness during sex and masturbation. Mindfulness is the ability to be in the moment without being distracted which is great if you suffer from anxiety.

Keep checking the morning wood

Morning erections are an important health indicator. If yours start to become less common, it may be a sign that your body is stressed, you need more sleep, need to improve your diet or be more active. So keep checking the morning wood, listen to your body, and try and live as healthily as possible to keep your erections strong and healthy.

Further articles

2024 Sex Trends

2024 Sex Trends are here! Read more about sexual wellness ecosystems, therapy speak, outercourse and what to expect in sex toy technology.

Show more

Did you like this post?4.7
Leave your rating


Tom has written about pretty much everything from robots taking over the world to prisons in Bolivia. Now, he is turning his attention to the wonderful world of sex in all its guises. Through his writing, he aims to create an open-minded dialogue on topics such as sex positivity, sexual identity, and the ever-changing notion of masculinity.