Updated at: 08-09-2022 - By: Jane

Researchers have been unable to determine whether or not it is feasible to sneeze while asleep, despite the many technological advancements that have been made.

When pressed, they’ll admit that they’ve never observed it, even after studying hundreds of study participants. But just because they haven’t seen it with their own eyes, does that mean it didn’t happen?

They’ll say they haven’t seen it even after researching hundreds of people, but that’s just an excuse. But does the fact that they didn’t witness it firsthand render it impossible?

Why Do We Sneeze?

  1. The nasal passages become contaminated with foreign particles. In order to perform this, they will need to remove all of the hair from your nose. Instead of complaining about your nose hair, you should be grateful to it because it prevents many sneezes from reaching your lungs.
  2. Tweezing your eyebrows or tickling the roof of your mouth are two ways to irritate the nerve endings in your face, which can then stimulate the nasal nerve and produce this effect.
  3. Bright light, especially sunlight, can cause a reaction in those who carry a certain gene known as the photic sneeze reflex.

One would think there would be other factors, but it comes down to only those two.

Can You Sneeze During Sleep? - The Sleep Judge

How Do We Sneeze?

One would assume there are additional considerations, but ultimately, those are all that matter.

Some of these particles may still pass through to the nasal mucosa, where they might cause the production of the neurotransmitter histamines. Histamines are chemical molecules comprised mostly of nitrogen atoms that irritate nerve endings in the nasal mucous membranes, leading to swelling. This triggers a chain reaction that culminates in a sneeze by activating the brain’s reflexes, which send signals to the pharyngeal and tracheal muscles to widen the nostril and tracheal openings.

Does Sleep Prevent Sneezing?

The swelling of the mucous membranes is one of the circumstances that can cause a sneeze, and this can happen when you’re lying on your sides, back, or stomach. However, neuroscientists and those who study sleep have come to the conclusion that sneezing is impossible while one is asleep.

  • Awake in Stage 1: This is the lightest stage of sleep and the easiest to interrupt. Your eye movements slow down, and you feel your muscles loosening and contracting.
  • Second-stage sleep is characterized by the cessation of eye movement, a decrease in core body temperature, and the beginning of deep sleep. Brain waves also start slowing during this stage.
  • In stage 3, the body’s blood pressure lowers and the brain’s slow-moving delta waves become interspersed with faster brain waves, ushering in deep sleep. To wake up at this point in the day is to feel completely lost.
  • REM sleep: In this stage, the eyelids remain closed, but the eyeballs move frequently from side to side. While the body rests, the mind is active, producing brain waves that reflect the reactions to waking activity or dreams. The dreaming process is at its peak at this point. As a result of having an active mind, you often recall specific details from your dreams. However, sneezing is not possible at this period of sleep since it leads to REM atonia.

The eyelids stay closed during REM sleep, but rapid eye movement (from side to side) occurs. While your body is resting, your mind is still active, producing brain waves that reflect the mental processes involved in dreaming or waking life. This is when the majority of dreams occur. Since your conscious mind is active, you often recall dream details. However, sneezing is impossible because your body is sound asleep and entering REM atonia at this point.

Because there is no atonia during NREM sleep, a sneeze could theoretically occur at any time. Here, however, the cerebral cortex and thalamus region of the brain are continually stimulating each other to inhibit reflexes to sensory input. Sleep deprives you of the impulse to sneeze in the same way that hunger, thirst, and the need to urinate do not. However, you might sneeze if you’re roused from NREM sleep by an especially powerful stimulus.

Since your surroundings don’t change while you sleep, the likelihood that a powerful external stimulus will abruptly enter your nasal canal is reduced. The only time you sneeze during NREM sleep is when you wake up because you can’t help but do so is when you’re unwell.

Why Don't We Sneeze While We Sleep? - MeMD Blog

How the Brain Suppresses a Sneeze?

This is not only a way to stay alive, but essential to survival. If we can reduce our reactivity to external stimuli, we can increase our chances of entering deeper stages of sleep. However, we still wake up in response to environmental signals that are sufficiently dangerous, such as the smell of smoke or a particularly loud noise.


Do the stages of sleep play a role in nighttime sneezing?

This suggests that waking up for a sneeze occurs more frequently in the first stages of light sleep than in the later stages of deep sleep.

How can I check sneeze reflexes during sleep?

The sneeze reflex is the uncontrollable need to sneeze that can interrupt non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep. Keeping your bedroom tidy and vacuuming regularly can help you control these desires. During allergy season, it is especially important to avoid keeping clothes on your bed and to frequently wash bedding and pillows. All of this works to keep your bedroom free of dust mites, pollen, and other sneeze-inducing particles, so you can breathe easier at night.

Does your heart stop when you sneeze?

Sneezing does not halt the heart’s electrical activity. Sneezing, however, increases intrathoracic pressure, which reduces blood flow to the heart. Since this boost in blood flow is compensated for by a slower heart rate, your heartbeat does not totally cease.

Can you cough or sneeze in your sleep?

While it’s impossible to cough or sneeze during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, doing so is not a problem when you’re in a lighter stage of sleep. If you want to cough or sneeze, your body has to become awake, even if only for a split second. Constant coughing or sneezing during sleep disrupts rest and can leave you feeling tired the next day.

Yes, You Can Sneeze in Your Sleep. Here's How It Happens


Even while there isn’t ironclad proof, it seems safe to assume that sneezing can’t begin unexpectedly when we’re sleeping. Assume that anyone who sneezes while appearing to be asleep is actually only faking to sleep.

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