13 facts related to the human nose

Find out why you don’t sneeze in your sleep.

Nasal Congestion is a problem facing millions of people on any given night. Here are some drug-free ways to immediately relieve nighttime nasal congestion.

  1. The brain region for processing smell is up to 50% larger in women.¹
  2. Nasal mucous membrane color is an indicator of health. Pink indicates a healthy nasal mucous membrane, red signifies infection, and muted pink and gray can appear during nasal allergy season.²
  3. Smell is the only one of the five senses directly connected to the area of the brain where memories are formed, and emotions are processed.³
  4. Your nose and sinuses produce almost one liter of mucus a day (which you typically don’t notice and swallow.)4
  5. You’re not alone: 45% of men and 25% of women have a regular snoring habit.5
  6. A single sneeze makes 40,000 droplets, travels up to 20 miles per hour, and creates a 5’ spray radius.6,7
  7. You don’t sneeze in your sleep because the nerves that trigger sneezing are also sleeping.8
  8. Hungry? 80% of what you’re tasting is determined by what you’re smelling.9
  9. Your nose is lined with microscopic hair-like structures, called cilia. Cilia sweep mucus to the back of the nose every five to eight minutes.10
  10. Nasal cilia move up to 20 hours after death. Researchers believe this could measure time of death.10
  11. There are 14 basic nose shapes.11
  12. Mucus contains chemicals that keep you healthy.
  13. Humans have about 12 million olfactory (smell) receptor cells, while rabbits have 100 million and bloodhounds have four billion.12


  1. Oliveira-Pinto AV, Santos RM, Coutinho RA, Oliveira LM, Santos GB, et al. “Sexual Dimorphism in the Human Olfactory Bulb: Females Have More Neurons and Glial Cells than Males.” PLoS ONE 9(11). http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0111733. Retrieved June 20, 2018.
  2. “What the Inside of Your Nose Reveals.” Health Encyclopedia. University of Rochester Medical Center. https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?contenttypeid=1&contentid=160. Retrieved June 20, 2018.
  3. “Memory and Plasticity in the Olfactory System: From Infancy to Adulthood.” The Neurobiology of Olfaction. Ed. Anna Menini. Boca Raton, FL: CRC/Taylor & Francis, 2010. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21882422. Retrieved June 20, 2018.
  4. “5 Cool Things to Know About Your Nose.” Wake Forest Baptist Health. Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, 29 May 2013. http://www.wakehealth.edu/News-Releases/2013/5_Cool_Things_to_Know_About_Your_Nose.htm. Retrieved June 20, 2018.
  5. Maimon, N., & Hanley, P. “Does Snoring Intensity Correlate with the Severity of Obstructive Sleep Apnea?” J Clin Sleep Med: 6(5), 475-78. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2952752/. Retrieved June 20, 2018.
  6. Bourouiba, Lydia, Eline Dehandschoewercker, and John W. M. Bush. “Violent Expiratory Events: On Coughing and Sneezing.” Journal of Fluid Mechanics 745 (2014): 537-63. http://math.mit.edu/~bush/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Sneezing-JFM.pdf. Retrieved June 20, 2018.
  7. Tang, Julian W. et al. “Airflow Dynamics of Human Jets: Sneezing and Breathing – Potential Sources of Infectious Aerosols.” PLoS ONE (2013): E59970. http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0059970. Retrieved June 20, 2018.
  8. Does Your Heart Stop When You Sneeze?” Everyday Mysteries: Fun Science Facts from the Library of Congress. Library of Congress, 24 May 2011. BNID 108804, Milo et al 2010. https://www.loc.gov/rr/scitech/mysteries/sneeze.html. Retrieved June 20, 2018.
  9. “Inside of Nose Reveals Time of Death.” New Scientist. 3 Oct 2011: 19. https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21128324-000-inside-of-nose-reveals-time-of-death/. Retrieved June 20, 2018.
  10. “Mucociliary Clearance.” The Asthma Center Education and Research Fund. 1 Jan. 2014. http://www.theasthmacenter.org/index.php/disease_information/sinusitis/sinus_mechanism/mucociliary_clearance/. Retrieved June 20, 2018.
  11. Tamir, A. “Numerical Survey of the Different Shapes of the Human Nose.” Journal of Craniofacial Surgery: 1104-1107. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21586956. Retrieved June 20, 2018.
  12. “Brain Facts and Figures.” Eric H. Chudler, Ph.D., 1 Jan. 2014. https://faculty.washington.edu/chudler/facts.html. Retrieved June 20, 2018.