We have all seen an innocent, sleeping face with saliva drooling out of the mouth countless times in movies and TV shows. If you’ve ever found yourself waking up to the same, have you wondered why do I drool in my sleep? Or, what might be causing it?
Although as harmless as it may appear from the outlook, the constant appearance of drool stains and waking up with a dried mouth might be a sign of something profound!
Multiple factors might be causing this excess drooling while you sleep. Furthermore, some of them can even lead to adverse complications if not treated at an early stage.
Why Do I Drool When I Sleep?
Drooling may be caused by excessive saliva production, which can leak out of your mouth. It might also occur due to nasal obstructions, acid refluxes, or any medicinal side effects.
Below are the seven most common causes of drooling and their remedies.
A Bad Posture
It is the most common cause of drooling.
If you lay sideways or on your stomach, chances are you are more prone to experiencing drool stains when you wake up.
It happens as your body cannot swallow the saliva produced, leading to it accumulating in your mouth and then gravity pushing it out.
Correct your posture by sleeping on your back and using a pillow to elevate your head.
It will allow your saliva to have a passage instead of pooling in your mouth.
If you are experiencing difficulty in breathing, it is probably due to a changed position. However, pay attention if you have a stuffy nose or experience acid reflux while trying to sleep on your back.
Just by paying attention, you can diagnose any underlying causes that might be causing the excess drooling.
Have you ever noticed how often you wake up and think, “why do I drool in my sleep?” is it more common in winter and late autumn?
When your nasal passage is blocked or obstructed, like in the common flu, the brain uses the mouth as the primary source of breathing to compensate.
Thus, your mouth tends to remain open as you sleep, leading to drooling.
Rarely, however, it can be due to more severe conditions like a deviated septum, nasal polyp, or enlarged adenoids.
Use a gentle saline spray for a stuffy nose. If you feel an anatomical blockage, consult your doctor.
Allergies are a no joke when it comes to respiratory obstruction.
Let it be a pint of dust or a handful of pollen. The induced rush of histamines and various other cytokines chokes up your passageway, making it very difficult to breathe, especially at night.
When you sleep, nasal congestion tends to worsen due to increased blood flow to your nose and head. This increased blood flow makes it very easy for saliva to escape out of your mouth.
Additionally, it is commonly accompanied by:
- Itchy, watery eyes
- Shortness of breath
- Dry cough
- Excess saliva production
- Nasal constriction.
Again, use a gentle saline spray to clear up your nasal passage.
You may also use a humidifier to open up your nose and provide moisturization. Sleeping with an elevated head has also proved effective in some studies.
This condition is related to a bacterial infestation messing up your pillow. During an infection such as a sinus infection or strep throat, your brain causes inflammation of the throat, making it harder to swallow saliva. Consequently, it drools out of your mouth.
Infectious sinus is usually accompanied by other symptoms such as:
- Green nasal discharge
- Red, swollen tonsils
- Bad breath.
Consult your doctor about the use of antibiotics. Meanwhile, you can drink plenty of water or use any pain medication to manage discomfort.
Gastrointestinal reflux disorder (GERD) is the excess production of gastric juices, which start flowing back to your esophagus.
Have you ever had an enormous meal and found difficulty in sleeping? This condition causes dysphagia (difficulty in swallowing). It is a feeling of a ‘lump’ in your throat, commonly accompanied by acidity.
Use an antacid before sleeping. If you recurrently find yourself thinking, “why do I drool when I sleep?” along with a growling stomach, schedule your meal 3 hours before sleeping to give your body some time to neutralize to lower pH.
Excess saliva production and weak swallowing reflexes can also be a consequence of drugs.
Antipsychotic drugs (such as clozapine), which treat Alzheimer’s disease, can cause poor nervous reflexes of swallowing. Antibiotics are also found to cause sialorrhea (excess saliva production).
If you have recently started taking medication and found saliva stains on your pillow, consult your doctor to see if switching the meds is an option.
Sleep apnea is a disorder that causes the discontinuation of breath during sleeping.
This phenomenon occurs because of a nervous disorder. As a result, your brain stops sending the signal to your throat and mouth to breathe. Blockage of these signals leads to excess saliva production and drooling.
Sleep apnea can be very dangerous and should be diagnosed as early as possible. It is most commonly accompanied by:
- Loud snoring
- Morning headaches
- Dry mouth after waking up
- Trouble staying asleep
- Feeling sleepy throughout the day
Consult your doctor if you are feeling such symptoms.
As a treatment, a machine called “continuous positive airway pressure” (CPAP) is used, which provides air to your lungs throughout slumber.
If you find yourself googling “Why do I drool in my sleep?”, it is not something to be embarrassed about!
Drooling is relatively common, and there are simple ways through which it can be improved.
However, if you are concerned about how much you are drooling and have reason to believe there is an underlying cause, contact your doctor immediately!