At least according to published research, the answer to that burning question is quite hazy: Maybe.
Maybe smoke will wake you up but maybe not, according to two studies conducted during the past 15 years.
“There is scant research that addresses awakening from the smell of smoke,” said Dr. Thomas Freedom, program director of the NorthShore University HealthSystem Sleep Program near Chicago. (He was not affiliated with either study.) “Some of the findings are contradictory.”
This much sleep doctors know: sensory stimuli — sound, temperature, touch, even pain — become less effective in rousing people the deeper they drop into nightly sleep stages.
For example, Freedom said, it’s easier to rally a sleeper who is in “stage N1” – a lighter phase of slumber – versus a person in “N3” or REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, which is a more submerged state of siesta.
Things that go bump in the night or shoves from a frustrated bedmate (“Yo! Stop snoring!”) may activate “peripheral receptors” – tiny sensors, many of which are located in your skin. Louder sounds or stronger vibrations are, of course, more apt to fully wake someone, Freedom said.