MadSci Network: Neuroscience

Re: Can a human sneeze while sleeping?

Date: Tue Dec 14 08:04:07 1999
Posted By: Dr amit raina, M.D., medicine, mpsmc
Area of science: Neuroscience
ID: 945029049.Ns

Thats a good question alexa.
Well the fact is that humans cannot sneeze while asleep.
Sneezing requires a reflex mechanism, wherein the sensory nerves in our 
upper respiratory tract, esp nostrils, are stimulated by some stimuli
(mechanical or chemical or other)and these nerves then go to the CNS (i.e 
brain) and as a final process excite the nerves which supply muscles pf our 
respiration and the pharngeal region and the man sneezes thus.  You must 
know that this reflex is a natural means to protect our sensitive upper 
respiratory tract from harmful influnces or, more appropriately, external 
influences, be it a solid or a gas or as a response to some infection.
Now when the man sleeps, his brain is not working at its normal levels and 
so even though the man's nerves have some external factor acting upon them,
no reflex is initiated and the man doesn't sneeze.
You must also know that when the stimuli continues or crosses a particular 
level, it changes from an irritative agent to a source of maybe say pain 
and the the man can have a disturbed sleep; there is a threshold for every 
Alexa, I think I've made it clear about the Mechanism and the reason that we 
don't sneeze when sleeping.  If you have any further queries,feel free to ask 
me at my E_mail adress.

Dr.Amit raina

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