Nocturnal penile tumescence, aka sleep related erections, aka SREs (you might pronounce it “sorry”) — sleep boners have remained a hilarious medical and psychological mystery for thousands of years, so Junior’s not escaping the bewildering phenomenon of his willy waking up before him. If you decide to broach the subject with your son, consider consulting with urologist Mels F. van Driel’s 2014 review of all the research on SREs since the 1900s. Not only will this show your kid that everyone is getting them (even monks!), it will give you both something to laugh about. Or, just share them with your spouse so they understand why you keep poking them every morning. Either way, everyone will learn something,
Penises Were Thought To Have Minds Of Their Own
According to the papers, an ancient Greek thought leader once said, “the penis possessed his own will,” and that “to keep him under control is a complex and skillful exercise in which not everybody will succeed.”
Doctors Became Concerned About Sleep Erections As Early As The First Century
Greco-Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius’ personal physician Claudius Galenus is thought to be the first doctor to notice a connection between sleeping and erections. His explanation, had it been correct, would have significantly changed your pre-bed ritual each night, but it turns out you don’t get SREs because you went to bed full of sperm.
Monks Thought Of Them As Spiritual Attacks
Waking up with an erection was once seen as a spiritual and religious threat. Monks would go as far as tying metal crucifixes to their penises before going to sleep, presumably without realizing how kinky later generations of fetishists might find that.
By the 14th Century People Would Get In Trouble For NOT Having Them
This marked the first of many ideological shifts back and forth about whether SREs are awesome or not.
You Used To Have To Prove Your Penis Worked In Court
The pro SRE camp reached a fever pitch throughout the year 1677, when impotence trials were the norm. These intrusive courtroom interrogations were exactly what they sounded like, and involved men having to prove their virility to a judge and jury. No, you’re out of order!
By The 1800s SREs Were Bad Again
All good things must come to an end, and by the 1800s sleep boners were a bummer again. Thus, medical professionals began producing products to prevent them, such as spiked penis rings and torso-length penis corsets. Weirdly, torso-length penis corsets do not currently appear to be a fetish, according to the internet.
They Decrease With Age
By keeping a detailed diary of his own sleep boners, turn-of-the-century sexuality researcher Henry Havelock Ellis discovered what was later confirmed by further research: frequency of SREs decrease with age (along with most other erections). His journal was as ahead of it’s time as it was creepy.
Babies Get Them Too
In the 1930s German scientists found that SREs happen to men and boys of all ages, and were observed in infants as young as 3 weeks old. But you probably already knew this if you changed enough diapers.
Erections Kind Of Have A Sleep Cycle Too
A decade later different German researchers discovered SREs occur every 85 minutes, on average, and lasted for about 25 minutes. Several years later scientists discovered erection cycles were linked to REM cycles — which stands for rapid eye movement, and not rapid erection movement.
They Have Been Historically ‘Hard’ To Study
In 1965, New York brain physiologist Charles Fisher came up with 3 experiments to study SREs in action, including several penile tools, devices, and temperature tests, all which were eventually deemed ineffective because they caused additional stimulation. As a result, the standard for studying has reverted back to the old fashioned way: watching the sheets very carefully while people slept.
They Are A Sign Of A Good Sleeper
In the 1960s, German researcher Uros Jovanovic suggested that good sleep quality often resulted in SREs, writing: “Good Sleepers and Good dreamers have the best SREs, while poor sleepers but good dreamers take the second place. Good sleepers and weak dreamers have the third place; the weakest SREs are observed in poor sleepers and poor dreamers.” In other words, it’s possible to get a boner over a good night’s rest.
They Peak During Puberty
Modern day use of neuroimaging tools and sleep tests like polysomnography have shown that SREs peak in duration and intensity during puberty. Teen boys spend about 30 percent of the night with SREs, a figure that falls by 20 percent by the time they get to their 60s. All the more reason to have this talk with your kid sooner than later.
[H/T] Van Winkle’s