There’s nothing like the sensation of waking up with your face in a collection of your own saliva. But why does this happen? Is there something wrong if it repeatedly keeps happening? Don’t fret – literally hundreds of thousands of people drool when they sleep and it’s usually nothing to stress over.
Sometimes drooling can be a side effect of sleep disorders like sleep apnea or underlying neurological issues, but there are a lot of possible treatments depending on the condition. Continue reading to find out the possible causes of your nightly spit puddles, and how to stop it from happening.
Why You Might Be Drooling
The average person’s body generates 1 liter of saliva every single day. Some people experience excess saliva production, which is referred to as hyper salivation or sialorrhea. If you’re waking up in the morning with drool down the side of your mouth and across your pillow, consider these possible causes.
Your Sleeping Position — Usually, your body swallows the spit it produces and it’s recirculated back through your bloodstream. At night, however, the muscles in your body are completely relaxed — especially during REM sleep. So if your mouth opens and you’re on your side or your back, it’s almost inevitable that you’re going to drool over your sheets/pillow. It’s also possible your brain is forgetting to remind your throat to swallow. So instead, the saliva spills out of your mouth and onto your nice bedding.
Blocked Nasal passages — One common cause of drooling is narrow or blocked nasal passages due to allergies. If it’s allergy season and you find yourself sneezing or blowing your nose often, especially after being outside, you’ve likely found your culprit.
It could also be due to the common cold or respiratory infections, which causes the hollow air spaces within the bones in your nose to become inflamed. Either way, it’s likely causing you to breathe through your mouth instead of your nose during the night. And if you’re stuck with your mouth open while you sleep, you might just wake up to a drool stain in the morning.
Sleep Apnea — There are about 200,000 cases of sleep apnea every year in the United States, which is a condition where your airways are narrowed or blocked consistently during sleep. This is when things start to get a little more serious. Drooling along with snoring, and recurring fatigue even after a good night’s sleep can be signs you have sleep apnea. Some of the most common forms of it are obstructive sleep apnea, where your airway is blocked during sleep, or central sleep apnea which causes your brain to send your body incorrect signals to the muscles in your body that control breathing.
Dysphagia — Dysphagia is a result of a stroke or an underlying condition like ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) which causes pain when you swallow. Drooling can be a direct side effect of dysphagia. If you think you’re experiencing difficulties when you swallow due to dysphagia, it’s important to contact your regular health physician to talk about possible treatments.
Side Effect Of Medication — Certain medications can prompt different chemical reactions in people’s bodies, and it’s possible the medications you’re taking are contributing to your drooling. If you recently started taking medication to treat a disorder or disease and you’re noticing yourself drool more often, talk to your doctor about switching medications.
For most people, drooling is caused by minor things like seasonal allergies or your sleeper type. If you suspect allergies are making you congested, try taking allergy medicine daily until your symptoms start to go away and you can breathe normally through your nose again.
For those of you who blame it on side or stomach sleeping, try sleeping on your back. We know stomach or side sleeping can be a hard habit to break for some people, but there are other benefits to back sleeping beside drool prevention. It also helps prevent wrinkles and puffiness in the face. If you think getting yourself to sleep on your back is a challenge, check out our post on how to train yourself to sleep on your back.
For more serious causes like sleep apnea or dysphagia, have a conversation with your physician about the next steps if drooling has become a bothersome issue for you. Folks with sleep apnea may be given a CPAP Machine (continuous positive airway pressure) which is the most recommended treatment for the condition. It helps you get a more restful sleep, and ensure you’re in the right position for sleep.
If you have dysphagia, Botox and or surgery may be a few of the more extreme options you have for treatment. Botox can help prevent the glands around your mouth from overproducing saliva, but it’s not a permanent solution.
For underlying neurological issues, you can choose to get surgery to stop yourself from drooling by removing your saliva glands. Again, you should consult your doctor before you decide to go through with something like that. It’s also likely that other treatments will be suggested before this one, but the option is available for you if need be.