We’ve all been there: we’re sound asleep when suddenly we’re jolted awake by a case of the hiccups. But why does this happen, why do we get hiccups while sleeping?
Sleep is a restorative process that is essential for our health and well-being. During sleep, our bodies repair and rejuvenate themselves. However, sleep is not always a restful experience for some.
One of the most common disturbances during sleep is hiccups. Hiccups are brief, involuntary contractions of the diaphragm that can occur during any stage of sleep. Although hiccups are usually innocuous, they can be disruptive to sleep and cause distress. So why do we get hiccups while we sleep?
In this article, we’ll explore the science behind hiccups and answer your questions about why we get them while we sleep.
But First: What Are Hiccups?
Hiccups are involuntary spasms of the diaphragm, which is the muscle that separates your chest and abdomen. The exact reason for hiccups is unknown, but they are usually a sign of a minor disorder or irritation to your digestive system.
When you have hiccups, it feels like you can’t take a deep breath or get enough air because your diaphragm keeps moving up and down rapidly. They are a common condition that can occur in anyone at any time. Although some people find them annoying, they usually don’t require treatment unless they’re causing pain or interfering with eating or drinking.
The Science Behind Hiccups
Hiccups are one of those medical conditions that seem to have no real reason. Hiccups are a strange phenomenon that can happen to anyone at any time, and they’re often very hard to control. They’re simply a reflex that helps us to swallow, but they can be caused by different things in different people—and sometimes even in the same person.
Hiccups are a spasmodic contraction of the diaphragm—the dome-shaped muscle that separates your chest cavity from your abdomen. These rapid contractions cause the diaphragm to rise, which makes it difficult for you to breathe in or out. Hiccups can last from a few seconds to a few minutes, and are usually caused by something called “abdominal stimulation.”
When we eat too much or drink too fast—or if we’re stressed out about something—our bodies will react with hiccups as a way to get rid of whatever’s going on inside us that doesn’t belong there.
So What Causes Hiccups While Sleeping?
Have you ever been jolted awake by a sudden hiccup? It’s not just you – this phenomenon is actually quite common. But why do we get hiccups while we sleep?
By now, we know that hiccups are caused by the diaphragm, a muscle that separates your chest from your abdomen. When it contracts and relaxes too quickly, you get hiccups.
Hiccups can be triggered by eating or drinking too fast or eating something spicy or acidic. Some medical conditions can also cause hiccups to occur while you sleep—the most common ones include liver disease and kidney failure, anemia (a lack of red blood cells), heartburn/GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease; a condition in which stomach acid flows back into your esophagus), respiratory distress syndrome, sleep apnea (a condition where breathing stops temporarily during sleep), stroke and anxiety disorder such as panic attacks or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The more common causes of hiccups include eating too quickly or drinking carbonated beverages, but there are other triggers too: lying down after eating spicy food or drinking alcohol can cause hiccups while sleeping; taking certain medications such as those for pain relief; stress; anxiety—the list goes on and on.
All of these reasons could cause you to have hiccups while sleeping. Working out the reason you get hiccups may be easy (perhaps you ate spicy food for dinner), or it may be less obvious. If you’re worried and can’t work it out, then we recommend asking your doctor for their opinion.
How Can You Stop Hiccups While Sleeping?
If you’re at a loss for ways to stop the hiccups while you’re sleeping, try these tips.
1. Take A Deep Breath
Sucking in air can help soothe your stomach and reduce the spasms that cause hiccups.
This is probably the most common suggestion for how to stop hiccups when they occur while sleeping.
It’s also one of the best ways to deal with this problem in general and can be done anywhere at any time.
2. Change Position
Lie on your back with your legs slightly bent at an angle of about 45 degrees (this reduces pressure on your diaphragm), or lie on one side with arms folded under head for support and comfort.
3. Elevate Your Bed
If possible, elevate the head of your bed 6 inches by putting blocks under each leg or placing pillows under it. This will ease breathing by helping blood flow from the lower extremities back up to the heart and lungs.
4. Avoid Heavy Or Spicy Meals Before Bed
Heavy or spicy meals, carbonated drinks, or alcohol before bedtime may cause hiccups during sleep. So, try to avoid eating such meals before sleeping.
5. Drink Water
Drink some water (but not too much). It may seem counterintuitive to take in fluids when you’re trying to avoid gulping down gallons of air, but drinking just a little bit can help increase circulation and decrease swelling in the throat area. This should reduce hiccups faster than if you didn’t have anything in your body at all!
Do not drink very hot or very cold liquids because either extreme could make matters worse instead. Warm liquids are best due to their soothing effect on tense muscles—and hot drinks may actually cause congestion as well!
When To See A Doctor About Hiccups While Sleeping
Hiccups can be a nuisance, but they are usually not serious.
If your hiccups go away after you drink something, it’s likely that they were caused by drinking too quickly.
If the hiccups happen while you’re sleeping and continue after waking up, it could be a sign of an underlying problem with the vagus nerve (a cranial nerve that controls heart rate and other involuntary processes in the body).
While this is rare and shouldn’t cause concern in healthy people, you should definitely see a doctor if any of these following occurs:
- If your hiccups last longer some time, or if you have other symptoms, such as fever, vomiting or weakness, you should see a doctor. It’s important to note that hiccups alone do not indicate any underlying health issues.
- You should also see a doctor if you are pregnant or taking medication that could prolong the hiccups (such as blood thinners).
- If you have a previous history of heart problems or lung problems like asthma or emphysema, tell your doctor so they can monitor your condition carefully.
If you’re worried about your health, you should always go to your doctor.
Hiccups While Sleeping: Our Final Thoughts
Hiccups are a strange phenomena, but they’re also incredibly common. If you’ve been hiccupping while sleeping and have no idea what’s causing it or how to stop it, then this article is for you.
We hope that by learning more about how the body works during sleep, we can help you figure out what might be causing your hiccups and get rid of them once and for all!