Monday, December 07, 2009

Wake Up! It's Time To Sneeze!

Yesterday I was pretending to sleep for a long period of time. (Long story. Don't ask. Not bloggable. Yet.) Then something happened. I felt a tickle in my nose. It was coming. There was nothing I could do about it. I was about to sneeze!

There are things you can do to prevent sneezes. There are certain pressure points you can touch to stop the sneeze. You can stifle it. But you can't do any of these when you're pretending to be asleep. I asked myself "Quick! How would a sleeping person handle a sneeze?" I didn't have an answer.

I decided the jig was up.  My cover was blown.  (Pun intended.)  No more pretending to sleep. I covered my mouth with my arm (a move I invented, by the way) and let loose.

It got me thinking. Can you sneeze while sleeping? I don't remember ever waking up to sneeze. I don't think I've heard of anyone waking up to sneeze. I suppose you could sneeze in you sleep, but surely it would wake you up! When you're sick with gastroenteritis (a.k.a. "Stomach Flu"), you wake up to go to the toilet. But, what about sneezing?

I thought about asking Quirks and Quarks - a science program on CBC, but that could take too long to get an answer. So I decided to ask Mr. Google.

It turns out, you can't sneeze while sleeping - sort of. Sneezing is a neurological reaction to stimuli in the body. But the reaction is processed in the brain. When you're asleep, you're brain is in a different state than when you're awake, and it doesn't respond to normal sneeze-inducing stimuli - unless the stimulus is strong enough.

I guess the only thing to say now is "gesundheit!"

1 comment:

Craig said...

"Yesterday I was pretending to sleep for a long period of time"

My usual time for trying this is between 9am and 5pm Monday - Friday.