Sneezing is a reflex triggered by external stimuli. Most of the time, it happens when something like dust or allergens enter your nose. A reflex of such nature manifesting during sleep tends to be impossible as the body is totally relaxed. In such a state, the body is a lot less likely to react to stimuli unless it’s hard and vigorous enough to shake you awake.
Therefore, if there’s strong enough stimuli to make you sneeze while you’re asleep, it has to be very significant. It can shake you awake momentarily, even if you don’t remember it happening when you wake up in the morning. That interruption can be enough to diminish the quality of your sleep, which can affect how much rest you get.
If left alone, it can yield other harmful effects on your health. That’s why it’s important to get to the bottom of why you’re sneezing during sleep. Let’s look into the unusual but not uncommon phenomenon of sneezing in your sleep.
Can You Sneeze in Your Sleep?
You can’t exhibit reflexes like coughing or sneezing when you’re deep in REM sleep, but you can certainly do so when you’re still in light sleep. Your body has to enter a state of partial wakefulness in order to sneeze, even if briefly. You may not even remember it when you wake up, but sleep is not a constant state.
The body goes through various states of sleep throughout the night, and coughing or sneezing often during light sleep can effectively deteriorate sleep quality. You may wake up still feeling tired and you may show irritability and mood swings as well. Therefore, addressing the cause of coughing and sneezing in your sleep is crucial to improving sleep quality.
Checking Whether You Sneeze in Your Sleep
If you’re waking up tired, yet do not have underlying health problems (even after getting a thorough check-up), then you may be coughing or sneezing during sleep. Ask housemates or family members if they ever noticed you sneezing during sleep.
You can also use a sleep tracker to see if your sleeping patterns are being interrupted. You may also use something like a voice recorder that can record what noises you make during your sleep. If you see spikes, that may be you sneezing while asleep.
Solving the Problem of Sneezing During Sleep
You may fall back to sleep after sneezing, but this interruption, when frequent, can diminish sleep quality. Therefore, it’s important to address this issue.
The first thing you need to do is to eliminate possible stimuli that cause sneezing, like dust and other particles in the air. Keep your bedroom clean and use a humidifier if necessary to make the air more breathable during sleep and triggering the sneeze reflex.
You may also want to regularly change and wash your bed covers, blankets, and pillows, especially during allergy season. Dust, pollen, dust mites, and other allergens may be triggering your sneeze reflex during light sleep by entering your nose as you breathe.
If that’s not enough, you may want to go to your physician to address your concerns. You may have a respiratory condition, allergies, or something in your nose that is making you sneeze in your sleep.
Yes, you can definitely sneeze during your sleep, but it’s mostly during light sleep. Your body doesn’t respond to stimuli during deep REM sleep, but you don’t stay there throughout the night. The lighter stages of sleep are still crucial to your rest, so having that interrupted by sneezing and other reflexes that can momentarily wake you up is still detrimental.
This is not an uncommon occurrence, so don’t be afraid or ashamed of asking your physician about it. You will have to get good information from medical professionals on how to address your sneezing while asleep, as well as making sure you clean your bedroom and the rest of your home of all potential allergens.
There may never be just one solution that can work while you’re still in the dark about what’s exactly causing you to sneeze while asleep, but doing whatever you can and getting help from experts can help you resolve the issue.