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As far as I know, I've never seen anyone sneeze or cough while they're sleeping. Google wasn't very helpful either; a lot of contradicting claims.

So the questions remains: do humans sneeze or cough in their sleep? (a few other things I've never seen with sleeping people are yawning and vomiting) If they don't, why?

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Babies may sneeze, cough and vomit while asleep, but it is not common even when they are ill. No reference, this is just my personal experience. I would think it's a matter of control over body muscles, babies have limited control (my kids would very often burp or sneeze and pass gas at the same time), but as they grow they learn to keep certain muscles in a certain state while asleep. –  jkadlubowska Sep 22 '12 at 6:47
I've heard people sneezing and coughing in bed a lot. I can't be certain they were really asleep that moment though. They might have been woken up for just a minute by the discomfort that then caused the cough or sneeze. –  Armatus Sep 22 '12 at 8:02

1 Answer 1

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Sneezing does not occur during REM sleep, due to REM atonia.(1)

Coughing on the other hand does occur during sleep, most commonly due to sickness. The following paper describes a study on the effect of honey for treating nocturnal coughing in children: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22869830

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