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October 5, 2011 10:23 AM   Subscribe

Every time I wake up during the night -- which is usually 2 or 3 times -- I find that I have a raging erection. Is this normal and/or healthy?

I'm a healthy male (duh) in his early thirties. I wake up in the night rather often, even if just for a moment to change position, and I've almost never noticed an exception; it seems as though I am just constantly fully erect the entire time I am asleep. This has been going on for many years.

My dreams are typically not sexy in the slightest. This morning I awoke from a dream about being on a bus, arguing with someone about a party we were planning, and even so, I was diamond-hard when I woke up. But it doesn't seem to matter at all what time of night/morning i awake or where in my sleep cycle I happen to be.

It's definitely not a response TO waking up, as I find it there even if I am wakened suddenly by something (say, a random noise). If I do manage to sleep the whole night through without interruption, I just notice it the one time upon waking. Doesn't seem to matter where I am, either.

It doesn't cause me any pain or embarrassment, but I have to wonder if spending that much time fully aroused EVERY NIGHT is going to wear out my junk somehow, or is likely to cause some kind of sexual dysfunction down the road.

Any thoughts?
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (11 answers total)
You're fine. More men would like to have your problem.
posted by atomicmedia at 10:28 AM on October 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

It's actually quite common to have erections during the night. In fact, a common test for erectile dysfunction is to put a little band around your member and see if it gets torn off before morning.
posted by Melismata at 10:32 AM on October 5, 2011

From the Wikipedia entry on REM sleep (which you enter several times in a night of sleeping):

"Heart rate and breathing rate are irregular during REM sleep, again similar to the waking hours. Body temperature is not well regulated during REM. Erections of the penis (nocturnal penile tumescence or NPT) normally accompany REM sleep. If a male has erectile dysfunction (ED) while awake, but has NPT episodes during REM, it would suggest that the ED is from a psychological rather than a physiological cause. In females, erection of the clitoris (nocturnal clitoral tumescence or NCT) causes enlargement, with accompanying vaginal blood flow and transudation (i.e. lubrication). During a normal night of sleep the penis and clitoris may be erect for a total time of from one hour to as long as three and a half hours during REM. Research urologists have found that the increased blood flow during NPT and NCT episodes may prevent excessive collagen from forming in the erectile tissues (sinusoids) of the clitoris and penis."
posted by Spyder's Game at 10:33 AM on October 5, 2011

Melismata (who also wins the award for most disturbing use of an ambigious pronoun) has it. It's so normal they use the lack of it to figure out if something is wrong.
posted by griphus at 10:58 AM on October 5, 2011 [14 favorites]

Very unlikely you're erect all night. Chances are you are waking with normal sleep cycles that happen to accompany tumescence, and of course "morning wood" is a commonplace phenomenon. Even the issue of when you wake up from sudden noise or whatever doesn't mean much, again you might just be more likely to awaken in the priapic state. You could also be waking up without an erection and just not remembering it: our capacity to remember varies significantly at different states in the sleep cycle. The only way you could really be sure would be to have it observed - they do a test for erectile dysfunction where they put a sensor cuff on it and electronically measure how many erections you have during sleep (the high tech version of what Melismata noted). Probably overkill, since as Spyders Game notes nocturnal erections are probably good for your penile health, but if you were worried about it I bet a urologist would be willing to wire up your junk for science. Otherwise, be happy, this probably just means your penis and vascular system are healthy.
posted by nanojath at 11:36 AM on October 5, 2011

Seems normal to me. I see it as a blessing, not a curse. I wouldn't be too concerned.
posted by handbanana at 11:49 AM on October 5, 2011

In addition, your Testosterone level increases during the night and is highest in the morning, hence "morning wood".
posted by StUdIoGeEk at 12:14 PM on October 5, 2011

Extremely common. I'm 52 and this still happens fairly regularly to me. Enjoy it - what's not to like?
posted by Decani at 12:25 PM on October 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

Melismata is referring to the postage stamp test (the article has further info on nocturnal erections confirming that they are indeed normal)
posted by TedW at 2:21 PM on October 5, 2011

As someone who has observed a sleeping husband for many years I can say: totally normal physiological event. Man + sleeping = constant erection.
posted by ms.codex at 3:46 PM on October 5, 2011

Just throwing out there, I notice this happens more when I'm cold.
posted by smoke at 4:33 PM on October 5, 2011

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