Asked by: Seonaid Johnston, Perth
Even if an insect crawled across your nose,you probably wouldn’t sneeze while dreaming. During REM sleep (the phase where dreams take place), your muscles are paralysed so that you don’t thrash around and hurt yourself. This paralysis extends to reflex muscle contractions, so you can’t sneeze while you are dreaming. In non-REM sleep your muscles are free to move again but the trigeminal motor neurones responsible for triggering a sneeze are still suppressed. It is just about possible to sneeze during this non-REM sleep, but the exertion will normally wake you up.
Luis trained as a zoologist, but now works as a science and technology educator. In his spare time he builds 3D-printed robots, in the hope that he will be spared when the revolution inevitably comes.