Unconscious vs sleeping


How come when someone get unconscious people get their tongue out so they don’t choke on it…but when we sleep we never have to worry about it?

In: Biology

Some people do have to worry about it when they sleep, but usually it’s not a problem because the muscles in the throat will keep the tongue from falling back and choking you even when you’re asleep. When someone is unconscious it is usually because something knocked them out, like drugs, alcohol or a hit to the head. These things can also cause the muscles in your throat to not work properly, so it’s just a good idea to make sure a drunk/drugged person is turned on their side. It’s not always a good idea to turn someone who hit their head though, because their neck might be injured, in that case it’s important to find a way to open the mouth and prevent the tongue from falling back and choking them.

Sleep is more like a special category of unconsciousness. When asleep, your senses are still active and being processed by your brain, just not being retained unless they reach a threshold. And may of your body functions operate, keeping you from swallowing your tongue, adjusting position to keep from having one portion of your body have too much pressure for too long, and keeping you from falling off a bed. Some sense of the passing of time is still there as well, just in a different way than when conscious.

Same reason you don’t have to worry about losing a file if you save it, log off the program, and put your computer in sleep mode versus someone ripping the power cord out of the wall while you’re in the middle of creating a word doc. One is abrupt cessation of all functions regardless of consequence and the other is a deliberate program to tuck everything away and consume less energy while its main functions aren’t in use.

Sleep is more an altered state of consciousness rather than actually being unconscious. This means that the sleeping person can still react to stimuli even if it’s lessened. A person who is truly unconscious cannot react to stimuli because their brain doesn’t react to it.