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Author Topic: Why don't we sneeze while we are sleeping?  (Read 2350 times)

Offline thedoc

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Why don't we sneeze while we are sleeping?
« on: 21/04/2015 20:59:07 »
Why don't we sneeze while we are sleeping? Presumably this would wake us up?
Asked by Denny Packard


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« Last Edit: 21/04/2015 20:59:07 by _system »


 

Offline Notso

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Re: Why don't we sneeze while we are sleeping?
« Reply #1 on: 02/12/2014 11:43:54 »
Quote from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sneeze
Sneezing cannot occur during sleep due to REM atonia - a bodily state wherein motor neurons are not stimulated and reflex signals are not relayed to the brain. Sufficient external stimulants, however, may cause a person to wake from their sleep for the purpose of sneezing, although any sneezing occurring afterwards would take place with a partially awake status at minimum.
 

Offline thedoc

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Hear the answer to this question on our show
« Reply #2 on: 21/04/2015 20:59:07 »
We discussed this question on our  show



Kat Arney put Denny's question to Naked Scientist Chris Smith...



Chris - Who sneezed in their sleep? Have you ever done that?



Kat - I donít know.



Ginny - Not that I know of.



Chris - Carolin?



Carolin - I've always woken up if I sneeze while I'm sleeping.



Chris - There you go. Thatís the crucial answer I reckon because I have definitely done exactly that. I've woken myself up sneezing at night. I think Denny, the answer to your question is that the majority of us wouldnít know if we did sneeze in our sleep and probably, it barely rouses us. And so, as a result, we donít remember it. There's no reason why you shouldnít sneeze in your sleep.



What's going on with the sneeze is that you have a circuit in your brain which detects movements or irritation of the lining in your nose. There's a lot of hairs there which if tickled or plucked, will strongly stimulate this reflex and they go back to your brain stem which connects your spinal cord to the top part of your brain where all of the centres which control breathing, coughing, blinking, the amount of saliva and eye secretions and tears you make, all of those things go on there and sneezing and hiccupping is coordinated there as well.



All of these functions are preserved in your sleep. You can cough in your sleep. You guard your airway in your sleep to stop yourself choking. So, there's no reason why you shouldnít sneeze in your sleep. I just suspect that most people donít remember that they've done it.



Denny - Well, I've never heard anyone sneezing in their sleep. I've heard people coughing in their sleep.



Chris - I was going to say, how big is your sample size, Denny?



Kat - You need to sleep with some more people to find out.



Denny - I'm not going to answer that question.



Click to visit the show page for the podcast in which this question is answered. Alternatively, listen to the answer now or [download as MP3]
« Last Edit: 21/04/2015 20:59:07 by _system »
 

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