There are countless ways we can be woken up while sleeping – but what about sneezing while sleeping? Sneezing may similar to snoring but many people are surprised to hear that it is physically impossible to sneeze while asleep!
What You Will Learn
It seems logical that we can sneeze while sleeping. Many people make quite a bit of noise while sleeping – from snoring, grunting, sleep talking, moaning and more. So it seems like it should be physically possible to sneeze, but have you actually ever heard someone sneeze in the middle of the night? Probably not all thanks to REM Atonia!
Is It Possible?
First of all – it is physically impossible to sneeze while you are sleeping. This might seem surprising surprising since you are closer to any dust on your bed, can’t clear your throat and can’t exactly avoid away from allergens like animal dander and dust.
During the day time these stimulants irritate the inside of our nose and cause us to sneeze. At night while we are dreaming these same particles still enter our respiratory system but the olfactory never sends the signal to the brain that it is time to sneeze thanks to REM Atonia!
REM Atonia and Sneezing
REM Atonia might have a scary sounding name but it is actually a totally normal part of sleep and the REM cycle. This sleep phase is when most of your most intense dreaming happens. In order to protect your body from acting out and hurting itself during vivid dreams most of your muscles and non vital reflexes – including sneezing – are paralyzed.
But don’t worry your sense of smell will still work in case you smell smoke from a fire!
The process of neurotransmitters temporarily paralyzing your sneeze reflex is called REM Atonia. Having almost your entire body paralyzed probably sounds like a bad thing bu tin this case it is actually very important for protecting the rest of your body – plus everything returns to normal once you wake up!
What about Non REM Sleep?
We already talked about sneezing during REM sleep but what about during Non-REM sleep? While your body does not experience the same level of paralysis sneezing almost never happens – and if it does you probably were not sleeping!