Have you ever wondered if it is possible to sneeze in your sleep? Or rather, have you ever sneezed in your sleep? Like you, millions of people want to know the same.
It is not possible to sneeze in your deep sleep. You can, however, sneeze during the earlier stages of sleep. The reason is that, during sleep, the muscles that trigger sneezing are also asleep.
Researchers have studied different people in their sleep to test for this possibility. They witnessed that those who claimed to have sneezed in their sleep were not yet asleep or were already awake.
Why Do We Sneeze?
Sneezing is an involuntary response the body uses to get rid of pathogens. The body releases mucus, air, and other particles at a very high speed.
As a result, health specialists advise covering your mouth when sneezing to avoid spreading germs. Another alternative is to sneeze into your elbow.
Note that sneezing is a normal human response to the environment. However, some instances may be due to diseases or allergies. Therefore, it is essential to let out a sneeze since holding it in might cause restlessness due to irritation.
What Causes Sneezing?
Cleaning your body's air is one of the essential jobs for your nose. It traps dust, dirt, and germs, preventing them from entering the body. As a result, the stomach produces mucus which neutralizes these pathogens.
Dust And Dirt
Dust and dirt particles, when inhaled, cause nasal irritation, which leads to sneezing. You can find stuffy rooms, settled on bedsheets and other clothes in your room.
Viruses And Flu
Viruses like Covid-19 cause a lot of sneezing due to germs in the body. A flue infection also causes a lot of sneezing.
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Exposure To Bright Light
When you suddenly get exposed to bright light, your pupils constrict in response. As a result, the body secretes mucus, which congests and leads to a sneeze. It is possible because the excitement of one part of the parasympathetic system also triggers other parts.
There have been cases of people sneezing after reaching a sexual climax. This behavior is infrequent among the population, and there is no scientific explanation.
Strong perfume scents and spices can trigger sneezing. However, some people are more sensitive to some environmental particles that could trigger allergies. These allergens include; fur, feathers, pollen, and dust.
Another way to cause a sneeze is to irritate your facial nerve endings. You can achieve this by tweezing your eyebrows and tickling the roof of your mouth.
Stages Of Sleep And Sneezing
While it is scientifically proven that you cannot sneeze in your deep sleep, there are different stages of sleep. In these stages, the body is in different states, with different degrees of functionality.
There are two stages of sleep that are repeated more than four times a night, creating a cycle. They are; the non-Rapid Eye movement (Non- REM) sleep and Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep. According to researchers, adults spend seventy-five percent of their sleep in Non-REM.
Non-Rapid Eye Movement (Non-REM) Sleep Stage
Non-REM is the first stage of sleep. You experience the lightest sleep, and it only lasts up to ten minutes. Here, your heart rate, blood pressure, eye movements, and pulse rate decrease as the body starts relaxing.
Your muscle and brain activity also starts reducing, but there is twitching in some muscles. Waking up is easy at this stage since the body is still conscious.
At this stage of sleep, your body is still awake and responsive. Therefore, sneezing is possible.
During this stage of non-REM sleep, your body relaxes further, and there are no eye movements at all. Temperature also drops by one or two degrees Celsius due to decreased energy requirements. It lasts for about ten to twenty-five minutes.
Chances of sneezing at this stage are low since the body is drifting into unconsciousness. However, you could wake up with ease if exposed to irritants that cause sneezing.
N3 is the final stage of non-REM sleep, where you experience the deepest sleep. Your body activities are at their lowest functionality. Also, there is very little muscle activity at this stage. It lasts between twenty to forty minutes before changing to the REM sleep stage.
Waking someone up at this stage of their sleep is quite tricky. The reason is that the body is unresponsive, and therefore activities like sneezing are entirely impossible.
Rapid Eye Movement (REM) Sleep Stage
The REM sleep stage is where you experience dreaming. The brain becomes active, even more than when you are awake. Eye movements are present as your eyes move from side to side. There is also an increase in heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing.
However, there is no muscle activity as the body muscles are temporarily paralyzed. The paralysis during this stage is to prevent you from acting when dreaming. However, certain conditions like sleepwalking make it possible to move during this stage.
Sneezing is impossible during this stage. Even when sneezing in your dream, your body will not translate it due to the temporary paralysis.
Can Children Sneeze In Their Sleep?
No, children cannot sneeze in their sleep. In most cases, children may sneeze in what appears to be a deep sleep. However, this indicates that the child is either waking up or has not yet fallen asleep.
Another common misconception is that children have a lighter sleep than adults. It is not true since children also experience the stages of sleep. The only difference is that they sleep for long hours in the day to allow growth.
Do You Still Have A Sense Of Smell In Your Sleep?
Yes, you do not lose your sense of smell while asleep. During the early stages of sleep, the body can still act on a surrounding with an irritable smell. It is hard for you to fall asleep in a dusty area.
However, once you are already in your deep sleep, your body will not act on the presence of an irritant. The reason is that the body muscles are inactive during these stages of sleep.
How To Avoid Sneezing In Your Early Stages Of Sleep
Sneezing can become annoying, especially when it prevents you from falling asleep. To avoid such irritation during your sleep, here are some things you should do;
Dust Your Room
A dusty room will trigger sneezing. Make sure to clean your room and get rid of all the tiny dirt and dust particles. Also, wash your beddings as dust particles settle on them from time to time.
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Avoid sleeping close to things that might trigger your allergies. For instance, if you are allergic to feathers, avoid feather pillows, as they may cause a reaction. Instead, go for down pillows or down alternative pillows, which offer almost the same degree of comfort.
Close Your Windows
Leaving your windows open allows dust, bugs, and pollen to come in and settle. These particles cause a room to be stuffy, hence sneezing. They could also trigger allergic reactions in those allergic to dust and pollen.
Breathing in cold air can make you catch a cold, leading to lots of sneezing. For those living in cold areas, warm your room before sleeping.
Waking up in the middle of your sleep to sneeze is possible. However, we tend to wake up for a short time, which makes it impossible to remember. Hence the illusion that one can sneeze in a deep sleep.
Feruza is a mom and a blogger. She had a neck pain for 15 years, which made her interested in everything about pillows.
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