If you’ve ever wondered whether or not it’s possible to fart in your sleep — and we don’t have to talk about what brought you to this question — you should know that the short answer is a definitive “yes.” While that may or may not be helpful to your current situation, you should find some solace in the fact that not being able to fart in your sleep might be indicative of a larger health problem.
“Everybody farts in their sleep — we may not know it when we pass gas ourselves, but we can sure tell when our bed partner does,” says Krista Elkins, a paramedic and critical care registered nurse of 20 years. “Farting is a mandatory physical requirement for the body, and not being able to could indicate a serious medical problem like a bowel obstruction.”
In short, people fart because the colon is filled with bacteria that uses unabsorbed sugar for energy. This fermentation process results in gas, and when enough gas builds up, it heads through the colon, into the rectum and out into the atmosphere.
But why do people fart in their sleep specifically? “During the day, people have much more control over their anal sphincter, which allows them to hold gas in their gastrointestinal tract until it can be released at a convenient time and place,” Elkins explains. When you’re sleeping, though, you’re in a much more relaxed state and uninhibited by the societal pressures of blasting a big fart in public, so your body is in charge.
Hopefully this knowledge has somehow helped your current situation, whether your significant other blamed the dog one too many times, or you just woke up on a flight surrounded by a pungent scent and angry seatmates.
And even if it hasn’t, perhaps the takeaway should be that farting in your sleep is indicative of good health. Not farting in your sleep could point to larger health-related issues, but for those who can, and do, fart in their sleep? Not only are their bodies functioning as they should, but they’re reaching peak levels of relaxation.