Why Do Some People Drool When They Sleep?

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Imagine taking a bite of a delicious cheeseburger. Or a refreshing, crisp slice of watermelon. Or anything with bacon. Have you started drooling yet? It’s usual to use the term drool-worthy to describe a delicious food, although it rarely actually causes this reaction. However, for some people, sleeping does. But why do some people drool when they sleep?

What Does It Mean When You Drool In Your Sleep?

Unwelcome, excess drooling, which typically happens when sleeping, is not amusing. It can be unpleasant and embarrassing. Excessive saliva, also known as hypersalivation or sialorrhea, can be caused by an increase in saliva production or a decrease in saliva clearance. Drooling may ensue as a result of this, which is usually not a cause for concern, but can occasionally be an indication of a wider health problem.

If you’re waking up with drool on your pillow every morning, it’s probably time to figure out what’s going on. Here we are going to take a closer look at the issue so that you can start taking the steps to do so.

What Causes Drooling While You Sleep?

Why do you drool when you sleep? There can be a number of reasons, most quite harmless, if annoying. Here is a look at some of the possible reasons for your nocturnal drooling.

Sleeping Positions

The most common reason for drooling when sleeping is so simple that you may not have considered it — and it’s to do with gravity.

Drool collects in your mouth as a result of your sleeping position. When sleeping, people who sleep on their side or stomach are more inclined to drool. When your lips open to breathe, the collected drool can begin to trickle out, especially if you breathe through your mouth when sleeping or have smaller, narrower, sinus passages.

Stuffy Nose

Speaking of sinuses, if they are blocked in some way it may lead to nighttime drooling, as well as disturbed sleep. Because you are likely to breathe exclusively through your mouth if you have a stuffy nose – due to a cold, flu, or maybe even allergies – the pooling of drool, and its escape, we just discussed is more likely to occur.

Medication Side Effects

Some drugs can make you drool more during the night. Excessive drooling has been attributed to antipsychotic treatments (notably clozapine) and Alzheimer’s treatments. Antibiotics can also have the same effect.

Acid Reflux or GERD

Acid reflux, better known as heartburn, and its more troublesome cousin GERD (gastrointestinal reflux disorder) often makes sleeping in general difficult, but for some people the odd chest pain, burning sensation in the throat, a feeling like a lump in the throat and other signs can also be accompanied by drooling when you sleep.

Allergies

If you are allergic to something around you when you are trying to go to sleep, this can lead to all kinds of difficulties if and when you do manage to fall asleep, including a stuffy nose that makes breathing harder and lead to excessive drooling at night.

Sleep Apnea

There are many possible signs of sleep apnea, and for some, persistent nocturnal drooling may be one of them. Sleep apnea is a sometimes serious, chronic condition that should be diagnosed and treated by a doctor.

How To Stop Drooling In Your Sleep

Now that you know more about the possible causes of drooling in your sleep you may be in a better position to tackle the problem. Here are some suggestions for doing just that, although you should remember that as nocturnal drooling can be a sign of an underlying health condition, making an appointment with your doctor to discuss the problem is a good idea as well.

1. Work on Changing Your Sleeping Position

As we mentioned, the most common cause of sleep drooling is the way that you sleep, so working on changing that may be all you need to do to begin to solve the problem.

The difficulty that many people run into here is that changing the way you are accustomed to sleeping can be very hard. 

Sleep experts say that, as is the case for babies, most adults would be best off if they retrained themselves to sleep on their back (although this is not the case for everyone)

To do so as a side sleeper (the group most prone to drooling in their sleep) you’ll need to make sure you have a mattress that supports your back well.  Back sleepers exert more pressure on their backs of course and will need it. 

If simply making sure you are lying on your back before going to sleep does not work and your body falls back into the familiar side position out of habit, you can try using long body pillows to help you stay in this optimal position until your body – and brain – is retrained to accept this new way of sleeping that will hopefully reduce nighttime drooling as well as offer other health benefits like decreased waking joint pain.

2. Try Changing Your Bedding

Although they do not realize it, some people find that their bedding triggers an allergic reaction that leads to nighttime drooling. Wool sheets can have this effect, as can some synthetic fabrics like certain polyesters.

Both cotton and bamboo sheets are hypoallergenic naturally, so switching to one of those options may help decrease allergy like reactions to bedding and help you get a better night’s sleep in general, as well as drool less.

While you are changing your bedding you should also take steps to remove other possible allergens from your bedroom, including pet dander and artificial chemical air fresheners, both of which can trigger nighttime allergy symptoms and worsen, or even cause, a nocturnal drooling problem. 

3. Don’t Eat Later at Night

Nighttime heartburn, which can lead to drooling in your sleep, is usually caused, or made worse, by eating too much too late at night, and changing that may help solve lots of the problems associated with it, including excessive saliva production.

Ideally, you should eat your final meal of the day at least four hours before bedtime and avoid nighttime snacking. If you feel hungry, try drinking a cup of herbal tea before bed to both help make you feel a little fuller and moisten your mouth so that simple dry mouth does not lead to excessive saliva production – and drooling – while you sleep.

4. Try a Corrective Device

To help reduce drooling while you sleep, you could also try using an oral gadget known as a mandibular device. It’s something you place in your mouth, similar to a mouth guard, to help you sleep better and reduce drool and snoring. These gadgets can be purchased online or at a few specialized surgical supply retailers.

5. See Your Doctor

If you have tried all of the suggestions we have just covered and drooling in your sleep is still a problem it’s best to make an appointment to discuss the issue with your doctor, so they can, at the least, give you a good check up and, if you get an otherwise clean bill of health, make further suggestions to help you get your nighttime drooling under control. While nighttime drooling is kind of embarrassing, and you may prefer to deal with it yourself, or via various questionable home remedies, as it can be a sign of more serious health concerns like sleep apnea, a deviated septum severe GERD and more, a little bit of embarrassment is worth it to stay healthier and get a better night’s sleep!

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