Sleep Shorts: Why Don’t We Sneeze in Our Sleep

Why do humans sometimes cough while asleep, but they never sneeze?

According to Dr.Fredric Neuman, in a recent post as his “Fighting Fear” blog in Psychology Today, it’s a matter of preservation.

Being a quiet sleeper may have protected early humans from nighttime predators. Imagine a saber-tooth tiger treading silently through woods when suddenly he hears and “achoo” from a nearby cave.


While sneezes originate in the nose, and you don’t need your nose to breathe. coughing is directly related to breathing and the need to breathe “trumps other considerations,” Neuman wrote.

“Therefore, sleeping is no cough preventative.” If natural selection weeded out the sneezing sleepers, why didn’t it do the same for snorers? It could be that snorers tend to be older people who are less likely to reproduce and thus, are less important to the survival of the species.



[Article Source: Sleep Savvy January/February 2014]

This blog post was originally published at Sleep Savvy Magazine and does not provide medical advice. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.

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