Why Do I Drool When I Sleep?

Medically reviewed by
 Dr. Jordan Burns DC, MS

Dr. Jordan Burns DC, MS

Meet Dr. Burns, a devoted chiropractor with an extensive seven-year professional career dedicated to optimizing patient health. With an academic background in Kinesiology, Life Sciences, and Sports Science and Rehabilitation,…

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Last Updated On November 22nd, 2023
Why Do I Drool When I Sleep?

Key Takeaways

  • Normal Causes of Drooling During Sleep: Excessive drooling during sleep is often normal and can be attributed to factors like excess saliva production, breathing through the mouth, and difficulty swallowing. It’s essential to rule out underlying health conditions like sleep apnea or acid reflux as potential causes.
  • Factors Contributing to Drooling: Drooling can be influenced by factors such as sleeping position, excess saliva production, and certain medications. Sleeping on the back and addressing nasal congestion can help reduce drooling, and in some cases, medical intervention may be necessary.
  • Medication Side Effects and Drooling: Certain medications, including sedatives, antipsychotic drugs, and antibiotics, can lead to excessive saliva production and drooling during sleep. Consulting a healthcare provider is important to determine if medication side effects are contributing to the issue. Treatment options may include lifestyle changes, speech therapy, and medication adjustments.

Do you ever wake up with a wet pillow or drool on your chin? If so, you’re not alone. Drooling during sleep is common and can be caused by various factors.

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This article will provide an overview of the causes and effects of drooling Verified Source Cleveland Clinic Ranked #2 hospital by U.S. News & World Report and one of the largest academic medical centers in America. The Cleveland Clinic serves patients from all over the world. View source during sleep and potential treatments. You’ll learn how to reduce drooling while sleeping and when to seek medical advice.

Normal Causes of Drooling During Sleep

Drooling during sleep is often a normal occurrence due to excess saliva production and can be caused by breathing with your mouth open, difficulty swallowing, or not being in the best sleep position. Suppose you’re experiencing excessive drooling while you sleep. In that case, it’s important first to rule out any underlying health conditions or issues causing it, such as sleep apnea or acid reflux. If no health problems are found, it’s likely due to excess saliva production or swallowing difficulties.

Your salivary glands produce saliva during sleep, and it’s normal for some of this saliva to escape your mouth as drool. In addition, if your mouth is open while you sleep (Which also causes a dry mouth at night), drooling is more likely to occur. Difficulty swallowing can also be a factor, as it can prevent the saliva from being swallowed and cause the saliva to escape as drooling instead. Finally, drooling is more likely to occur if you sleep in a position that causes your mouth to fall open.

Fortunately, there are some strategies you can use to reduce drooling while you sleep. Changing your sleep position, such as learning how to sleep on your back may help, as it can reduce the chances of your mouth falling open.

You can also try breathing through your nose rather than your mouth, which can help reduce drooling. If you’re experiencing difficulty swallowing, consulting with a doctor may help to identify the underlying cause and provide a treatment plan.

“Drooling during sleep can be related to various factors, including sleep position and underlying medical conditions,” explains Dr. Jordan Burns. “It’s not uncommon, and, in many cases, it’s a result of sleeping on your side, which allows saliva to accumulate.”

“To reduce drooling, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends elevating your head slightly with an extra pillow. This can help prevent excess saliva from pooling in your mouth.”

If you’re concerned about excessive drooling in your sleep, it’s important to speak with your doctor to rule out any underlying health issues. Changing your sleep position, breathing through your nose (Some people wonder if mouth taping is good for this), and seeking treatment for difficulty swallowing can help reduce drooling while you sleep.

Factors That Contribute to Drooling During Sleep

You may experience drooling during sleep due to several factors. Excess saliva production, sleeping position, underlying health conditions, and certain medications are common causes. Verified Source Johns Hopkins Medicine University focused on medical research that produces thoroughly reviewed health articles. View source If you’re experiencing drooling during sleep, it’s important to understand the underlying cause. This can help you determine the best way to stop drooling.

Excess saliva production is a common cause of drooling during sleep. This is especially true if you produce more saliva than usual due to seasonal allergies or strep throat. Other causes include obstructive and central sleep apnea, teeth grinding, and certain medications.

If you’re sleeping in a position that allows your mouth to fall open or if your facial muscles relax, drooling is more likely. Try to sleep on your back to reduce the risk of drooling. Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) can help reduce the risk of drooling if you have obstructive sleep apnea (Find out what a CPAP machine is here).

If you’re taking certain medications, they may be causing increased saliva production and drooling. It’s important to talk to your doctor to determine if medication side effects Verified Source National Library of Medicine (NIH) World’s largest medical library, making biomedical data and information more accessible. View source are causing your drooling.

In some cases, drooling during sleep can be a symptom of an underlying health condition. Verified Source Cleveland Clinic Ranked #2 hospital by U.S. News & World Report and one of the largest academic medical centers in America. The Cleveland Clinic serves patients from all over the world. View source It’s important to consult a medical professional if drooling is a concern. They can assess your symptoms and provide personalized advice on reducing drooling through lifestyle changes, medications, or other strategies.

Factors Related to Sleep Position and Drooling

You can reduce the risk of drooling by sleeping on your back, as other positions may increase the likelihood of drooling. Factors related to sleep position and drooling include:

  • Muscles relax during sleep, including those in the face.
  • Sleeping on the side or stomach may increase the likelihood of drooling.
  • Nasal congestion due to cold or seasonal allergies that can lead to mouth breathing during sleep.
  • Relaxation of facial muscles can lead to drooling.

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (Acid reflux or GERD) can cause nighttime drooling and difficulty swallowing. Too much saliva production can cause drooling during sleep, as can certain medications. Nasal congestion can also increase saliva production and lead to mouth breathing.

Side and stomach sleepers are more likely to drool, as gravity can pull saliva down towards the pillow. Treatments such as lifestyle changes, mouth and throat exercises, medication, and Botox injections may be recommended to reduce drooling. Surgery may be recommended for severe cases of hypersalivation.

If you’re a stomach or side sleeper and find yourself drooling excessively during sleep, it’s important to consult a healthcare provider for personalized advice. Treating nasal congestion can help reduce drooling, make lifestyle changes and use mandibular devices. Verified Source National Library of Medicine (NIH) World’s largest medical library, making biomedical data and information more accessible. View source With the right treatment, you can reduce drooling during sleep.

“From a dental perspective, drooling during sleep can sometimes be related to oral health,” Dr. Burns says. “The ‘Journal of Clinical Periodontology’ published a 2020 study Verified Source National Library of Medicine (NIH) World’s largest medical library, making biomedical data and information more accessible. View source emphasizing the importance of oral hygiene and dental check-ups. Verified Source National Library of Medicine (NIH) World’s largest medical library, making biomedical data and information more accessible. View source

“Poor oral health can lead to excessive saliva production or swallowing difficulties. Regular dental visits and practicing good oral hygiene (brushing your teeth and scraping your tongue) can help maintain a healthy oral environment and potentially reduce nighttime drooling.”

Medication Side Effects and Drooling

Certain medications can cause you to drool, so it’s important to consult a healthcare provider if you are concerned about potential side effects. Medications such as sedatives, antipsychotic drugs, and some antibiotics can produce excessive saliva Verified Source National Library of Medicine (NIH) World’s largest medical library, making biomedical data and information more accessible. View source during waking hours, resulting in sleep drooling. Neurodegenerative disorders can also cause impaired swallowing and more saliva than usual. Medications used to treat Alzheimer’s disease and certain NSAIDs can result in drooling.

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is another condition that can cause drooling due to difficulty with stomach acid, along with the other ways that GERD impacts sleep.

If excessive salivation is a problem, talk to your healthcare provider. A doctor can help you assess the cause of excessive salivation and recommend lifestyle changes, speech therapy, medications, and surgery. Botulinum toxin injections (e.g. Botox) can be used to reduce saliva production, and mandibular devices can be worn in the mouth during sleep to reduce drooling. Speech therapy and surgery for sleep apnea can strengthen tongue and jaw muscles to help control saliva.

Taking the right medications and following the healthcare provider’s advice can help you reduce drooling and improve your quality of life.

Nasal Congestion and Drooling

If you suffer from nasal congestion, you may drool more during sleep. This is because difficulty breathing through the nose can lead to mouth breathing, which can cause saliva to escape the sides of the mouth. Congestion due to colds, allergies, sinus infections, and other illnesses can also lead to an open mouth while sleeping. Additionally, sore throats, dry mouths, and other issues can cause a person to sleep with their mouth open. Learn more about how to sleep better when you are sick here.

“Drooling can also be linked to nasal congestion, allergies, or a deviated septum, leading to mouth breathing during sleep,” says Dr. Burns. “The American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery suggests addressing any underlying issues to improve nighttime breathing and reduce drooling. If allergies are a concern, consider using a humidifier or nasal irrigation to keep your airways clear.”

Drooling can also be caused by medications used to treat Alzheimer’s, dementia, traumatic brain injury, and other serious neurological disease conditions. Verified Source National Library of Medicine (NIH) World’s largest medical library, making biomedical data and information more accessible. View source These medications may lead to excessive saliva production, which can be difficult to contain in the mouth while sleeping. Additionally, the salivary gland ducts can become blocked, leading to an increase in saliva production.

There are several ways to reduce drooling during sleep:

  • Treating the underlying cause of nasal congestion, such as allergies or sinus infections.
  • Utilizing mandibular devices to help keep the mouth closed while sleeping.
  • Working with a speech therapist to strengthen tongue and jaw muscles.
  • Taking medications to reduce saliva production.

It is important to consult a doctor to determine the best treatment option for drooling during sleep. With the right treatment, returning to a more normal sleep pattern is possible.

Other Causes of Drooling During Sleep

With all of these possibilities, there are still other factors can contribute to drooling during sleep. These can include overproducing saliva, breathing with the mouth open, difficulty swallowing, and even the position of your head while you sleep. The nervous system relaxes Verified Source National Library of Medicine (NIH) World’s largest medical library, making biomedical data and information more accessible. View source when we go into a deep sleep, which can also cause our facial muscles to relax. This can lead to our mouths falling open and drool escaping from the sides of our mouths.

To minimize and treat drooling during sleep, it’s important first to treat any underlying medical conditions or infections that may be causing it. If nasal congestion is an issue, this should be addressed as well. Botulinum toxin injections can reduce saliva production, Verified Source National Library of Medicine (NIH) World’s largest medical library, making biomedical data and information more accessible. View source and mandibular devices can be worn to help prevent drooling.

Effects and Consequences of Drooling During Sleep

Drooling during sleep can lead to bad breath, dehydration, dry mouth at night, and embarrassment as you wake up to a puddleon your pillow. It’s important to understand the effects and consequences that can arise due to this issue.

For instance, chapped lips may result from drooling and not protecting the skin or dry mouth with a cloth or tissue. Saliva may also escape the sides of the mouth while sleeping, leading to further discomfort. People with swallowing disorders or neurological diseases may be more likely to experience drooling while sleeping. It’s essential to consult a healthcare provider to determine the appropriate treatment.

Wearing a mandibular device during sleep Verified Source National Library of Medicine (NIH) World’s largest medical library, making biomedical data and information more accessible. View source can reduce drooling. Additionally, treating allergies can open up the sinuses and reduce mouth breathing. Treating the underlying cause of drooling, such as impaired swallowing or allergies, can help reduce the occurrence. Speech therapy and medications can be prescribed to reduce drooling in individuals with neurological conditions. Surgery may be recommended for severe cases of hypersalivation.

Allergy treatment and lifestyle changes can help treat allergies and alleviate drooling during sleep.

Remedies and Treatments for Drooling During Sleep

Drooling during sleep is a normal occurrence and can be caused by a variety of medical conditions. It’s important to talk to your doctor to determine the best treatment for your situation.

Several remedies and treatments are available to help reduce drooling during sleep, such as lifestyle changes, speech therapy, medication, and surgery. Treating the underlying allergy symptoms can help manage drooling if you suffer from allergies. Nasal congestion due to colds or allergies may lead to breathing through the mouth during sleep. This can increase the amount of drool that escapes from your mouth.

A speech therapist can help strengthen the tongue and jaw muscles to reduce the chances of drooling. In some cases, prescription medications may be necessary to reduce saliva production. Botox injections can also be used to reduce saliva production. Mandibular devices can be worn in the mouth during sleep to reduce drooling. Surgery may be recommended in severe cases of hypersalivation.

It’s important to consult your doctor to discuss the best treatment options. Overall, drooling during sleep is normal and can be managed with the right treatment plan. Lifestyle changes, speech therapy, medication, and surgery are all options to help reduce drooling during sleep. Talk to your doctor about your situation to determine the best action.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does drooling in your sleep mean?

Some of the other most frequent reasons for nighttime drooling include sleeping posture, allergies or infections, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), obstructive sleep apnea, teeth grinding, pharmaceutical side effects, and other medical or neurological disorders.

Is drooling in sleep good or bad?

Drooling during sleep is common and doesn’t always need to be treated. To stop drooling while you sleep, there are a lot of methods you might consider, ranging from lifestyle adjustments to speech therapy, medication, and surgery.

How do I stop drooling in my sleep?

Change up how you lie down to sleep. A simple solution to drooling while you sleep for stomach or side sleepers is to move to a sleeping position on your back. Prop up your head to a better position less likely to drool. Hydration is also a factor as you are less likely to drool when you are hydrated.

Does anxiety cause drooling in sleep?

Uncomfortable positions from anxiety can be a factor. You may find yourself sleeping or sitting in odd positions as a result of anxiety. It’s also not unusual to open your mouth while you’re asleep. You may drool while you sleep or become fatigued as a result of any of these oral breathing problems.

Conclusion

Drooling during sleep is common and can be caused by various factors. Understanding and addressing the underlying cause of your drooling can help you reduce or even stop it.

If you still struggle with drooling at night, consult your doctor for further advice and treatments. Don’t worry; you’re not alone – with the right help, you can find a solution that works for you!


About the author

Eric Ridenour is a health and wellness writer with a strong focus on sleep and nutrition. With a background in health science and psychology, Eric has a deep understanding of the connection between sleep and overall well-being. His expertise has been sought by various businesses and individuals, and his work has been featured in reputable publications such as Thrive Global, Drug Report, and Authority Magazine. Eric's commitment to promoting better sleep and comprehensive wellness is evident in his writing and consultations. He is a published author working on his second book.

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