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Can you sneeze in your sleep?

Fact Checked
Up to date
Update: June 2, 2023
4 min read

Written by

Rahul Upadhyay
Content Writer
Can You Sneeze In Your Sleep

Sneezing is a process to remove irritants from the nasal passages undertaken by the body involuntarily. Also known as sternutation, it feels like a big burst of air expelled from the mouth. A sneeze usually occurs without any warning and almost suddenly. But can you sneeze in your sleep? No, you cannot sneeze while sleeping. Read ahead to know more!

How Does Sneezing Work?

Sneezing is a reflex action triggered by irritation in the nasal passages. It begins when receptors in the nasal lining detect foreign particles, allergens, or irritants. The brain receives signals and initiates a response to expel the irritants.

The process involves a deep inhalation, followed by a rapid closure of the glottis (the opening between the vocal cords) to build pressure in the lungs. Subsequently, the glottis opens abruptly, and the air, along with the irritants, is forcefully expelled through the nose and mouth. Sneezing helps clear the nasal passages, protecting the respiratory system from potential harm.

Why Do We Sneeze?

The primary responsibility of the nose is to ensure you inhale clean air, free from any bacteria or dirt. Usually, if any irritant is trying to enter the system, your nose traps it in the mucus, which is then digested by the stomach to defeat any harmful invaders. Sometimes, these irritants enter the nose and provoke the sensitive mucous membranes causing a sneeze.  

Sneezing is a reflex action against irritants that make their way into the nose and throat. Some of these common irritants include;

  • Viruses
  • Bacteria
  • Pollen
  • Dust
  • Dander

We can sneeze any time of the day. However, it is not possible to sneeze when you are fast asleep.

Does Sleep Prevent Sneezing?

If you are wondering, ‘can you sneeze while you are sleeping?’ the answer is no. The process that causes a sneeze is shut when sleeping. However, if you suffer from allergic reactions that cause sneezing, it gets difficult to pass the wake stage of sleep.

Do Children Sneeze in Their Sleep?

We all have an internal biological clock known as the circadian rhythm. It regulates our sleep-wake cycle. However, children’s circadian clock is still under development since their sleep pattern takes time to mature. Because of this, children tend to move around during the non-REM sleep stage and can urinate or sleepwalk. So, can you sneeze in your sleep as a baby, or can you sneeze in your sleep as a toddler? Yes. Children are more susceptible to sneezing when they are asleep when compared to an adult. 

Does Sleep Suppress Other Urges?

Yes, apart from sneezing, sleep suppresses other urges, such as;

  • Urination 
  • Defecation 
  • Thirst 
  • Hunger 
  • Hiccups 

When it comes to sneezing, our body relaxes the muscle, and the process gets shut down in slumber. However, that’s not the case for all. Some neurons in front of the brain become active when we hit snooze to ensure you can control your bowel movements and bladder during sleep.

Sleep stages

Our bodies go through four stages of sleep. They are categorised as REM and Non-REM sleep. As the night progresses, the duration of Non-REM sleep goes down, and REM increases. It is not possible to sneeze in the REM stage.

Stage Wake

It is the time before you fall asleep when you feel drowsy, and your eyes are closed. 

Stage 1 – Non-REM 

It is the first step of your sleep cycle and very light sleep. It lasts for about one to five minutes. 

Stage 2 – Non-REM

Here, your sleep becomes deeper, and your heart rate and body temperature also go down.

Stage 3 – Non-REM 

It is when you are sound asleep and healing and rejuvenation takes place.

Stage 4 – REM

 Here, your muscles are completely inactive, and you see dreams during this stage.

Does sneezing affect sleep?

It is possible to sneeze during the wake stage. However, sneezing does not affect sleep because your muscles are inactive during this period. But sneezing is also possible if you are someone suffering from allergies or wake up with a coughing fit at night. So, what happens when you sneeze in your sleep? It may disturb your sleep, making it difficult for you to fall asleep again or take some time.

Adults vs. children sneeze during sleep

Sneezing in your sleep is not possible for an adult. But as aforementioned, we go through different stages of sleep, and the level of consciousness varies depending on the sleep stage we are in. That being said, during your REM sleep, an adult can’t sneeze as you enter the state of near muscle paralysis. This is different in children because they tend to move a lot, hence they are more likely to sneeze in their sleep. 

Causes of sneezing

Some of the main causes of sneezing include;

  • Allergies due to pollen, mould, dander and dust
  • When you breathe in corticosteroids from nasal sprays, it can cause sneezing
  • Suffering from infections, such as the common cold or flu 
  • Sometimes, the bright light from the sun can cause a sneeze known as photic sneeze reflux
  • In some cases, the digestion process can cause sneezing, known as stomach sneeze reflux.


Mostly, sneezing only occurs when you are awake. If you think you have ever sneezed during your sleep, the likely reason can be that you had woken up from sleep.


Can you sneeze underwater?

While it is possible to sneeze underwater, it is not likely to occur because the irritants that promote a sneeze are not present underwater

What can’t you do in your sleep?

You cannot sneeze in your sleep because the muscles responsible for this process are inactive.

Can you fart in your sleep?

Yes, you can fart in your sleep. But you may not be aware of it. 

What to drink to sleep faster?

A glass of warm milk can be extremely beneficial to help you sleep faster

What weird things do people do in their sleep?

Some of the strange sleep behaviours are;

Can you die from sneezing in your sleep?

No, a sneeze cannot kill you.

How to not sneeze?

If you want to stop the sneeze, try blowing your nose or pinching the nose as you feel the onset of a sneeze.


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Written by

Rahul Upadhyay
Content Writer
10 years of experience as a content writer Previously worked as a copywriter for a health journal Ability to write in a variety of formats, including articles, white papers, and clinical trial summaries

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