Why do I drool when I sleep? It’s an all too common problem that many people face; the prospect of drooling while they sleep. On top of uncomfortable, particularly upon waking and discovering the mess, it’s also fairly unhygienic and unsightly, especially if the bed is shared. So here comes the main question and source of this common inquiry; why do we do it in the first place and how do we stop it? Therein lies the key; in order to stop it, you first have to understand how and why it happens to begin with. Let’s dive in and try to figure it out.
What Causes Nocturnal Drooling?
Why do I drool when I sleep? Medical professionals hear this literally every week of the year at least once. This is the question plaguing the minds of everyone who dreads the sticky problem come morning.
Firstly, you need to understand that while unpleasant, saliva is an important part of our digestive system. It makes food softer and moister, making it easier and more comfortable to swallow.
Quite simply, we wouldn’t be able to eat without it. Our bodies are constantly producing more of it, keeping our mouths healthy in the process.
However, it’s also important to understand the process of nighttime relaxation our bodies undergo, which causes our jaws to slacken. For some people, this causes their mouths to open slightly.
Factor in this natural reflex and the normal saliva production we undergo constantly, this answers the drooling problem for many. This hypersalivation can sometimes be caused by a few types of underlying disorders, which we’re going to cover for you.
1. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
You may not have heard about the condition we’re discussing, but it’s possible that either you or someone you know suffers from it.
This particular form of hypersalivation is called waterbrash. This is where reflux from the stomach pushing acids up your throat into the back of your mouth triggers the production of extra saliva to neutralize the destructive fluids.
However, this helpful action can have some annoying drawbacks, I.e., drooling during your sleep. Thankfully, there are several different types of treatments you can undergo to correct this problem.
2. Sleep Apnea
Believe it or not, this sleep disorder can also be a major source of nighttime leakage. Sleep apnea is the name given to the disorder that causes your airways to close up as you’re sleeping, causing mouth breathing and excessive snoring.
The abnormal amount of snoring creates equally abnormal breathing patterns, which can lead to the excess production of saliva. This condition goes far beyond simple drooling in your sleep, however.
It’s a very serious condition that needs immediate treatment in order to maintain healthy oxygenation to the brain at night, as well as attaining a proper sleep hygienic schedule.
Sufferers with sleep apnea may be prescribed to use a CPAP, or continuous positive airway pressure device. This device forces air through the nasal passages and into the windpipes more easily and effectively than your starved air passages will now allow naturally.
And since sleep apnea tends to be genetic, the chances are good that if your parent or grandparent has it, you may very well develop it as well. It’s always best to consult your doctor about any warning signs you may have noticed.
Amazingly, the simple (or complicated, depending on your point of view) act of being pregnant can cause excessive saliva creation at night. Some women even swear that hypersalivation at night is actually a potential first sign of pregnancy.
When you become pregnant, your blood volume increases to help provide more nutrients to the growing fetus. This means an increase in saliva, which can be rather uncomfortable, particularly at night.
Unfortunately, there isn’t much that can be done for this during this time, though it’s advised to suck on mints and hard candies to help with the overproduction.
“Why do I drool when I sleep?” Well, you might have a happy bun in the oven, for starters.
Finally, the last most common cause, dysphagia, or the inability to swallow. If you have difficulty swallowing for whatever reason, you may also find you tend to drool a lot at night. There could be any number of reasons you suddenly can’t swallow well; Parkinson’s, ALS, stroke, etc.
Any number of conditions can make the simple act of swallowing increasingly difficult to manage. Anything that damages muscle neurons can cause it. This condition can be especially problematic, as it opens up the chances for choking.
Dangers, If Any?
Well, yes and no. Depending on the condition you may or may not have, dangers can exist and even become exacerbated.
It’s going to take a doctor’s examination to determine how, what, and why. There are of course smaller, more inconvenient risks, of course. Excess saliva can cause sores and dry lips from the irritation.
This is easily solved with a little chap-stick applied a few times a day and maybe even before you go to sleep.
The dryness that can happen with mouth-breathing can also lead to sore throats. It’s rare, but pooling in the throat can even lead to an infection. It’s important to keep the lips and mouth moist at night to prevent the discomfort of these side effects.
Change Sleep Habits and Hygiene
If you’re still asking “why do I drool when I sleep, even despite all this?”, There are a few things you can try to ease up on this uncomfortable not-very-attractive nighttime dilemma.
If there isn’t a medical condition behind it, then it may be entirely manageable on your own. For starters, changing your sleep position can help immensely.
By learning to sleep on your back instead of your side, you not only reduce the risk of drooling, but you’ll also manage any aches and pains you could very well end up with it the morning.
It may also help to stay hydrated at night before you go to sleep. Drink water throughout the day and make sure you eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables every chance you get for extra water and nutrients.
Check for Allergens
Nocturnal breathing issues aren’t just related to sleep apnea. You could very well have an allergy to dust mites. If that’s the case, you not breathing correctly and drooling, as a result, is just your body reacting to this common allergen.
Dust mites are otherwise harmless and an everyday part of life you may as well get used to, but that doesn’t mean you have to just suck it up.
There are special sheets and pillowcases you can buy that’ll make them easier for your poor nose to tolerate.
Thus, enabling you to breathe more easily through your nose rather than your mouth. You could also be suffering from seasonal allergies caused by pollen or mold.
If hypoallergenic sheets aren’t doing the trick, try speaking with your doctor about different treatment options that may be available to you.
It could be that you just need some antihistamines, but again, you’re extremely advised to speak with a medical professional before attempting any serious medication for yourself.
Nasal, Sinus, Throat, Oh My!
Sorry, we couldn’t resist. But it’s true; if any of these aforementioned body parts are afflicted with any sort of infection, then your breathing is most definitely being inhibited, possibly to the point of open-mouth breathing and drooling.
Nasal and sinus infections usually cause lymph fluid buildup, creating annoying blockages that make it very difficult to breathe through the nose.
This is not only frustrating, it’s even more indicative of drooling at night. Same with a sore throat, difficulty swallowing makes it hard to, well, swallow excess saliva build-up and the extra has to go somewhere.
It’s best to keep your throat moist at night, especially during sickness.
If you have to keep such a spray beside your bed, then make sure it’s specially formulated for clearing fluid buildup and keeping your airways nice and clear for proper oxygenation.
We know they’re not everyone’s favorite solution to nighttime oral trouble, but sometimes, it just can’t be helped. If your jaw is slacking too much at night and falling open too easily, then you’re likely drooling way too much and driving yourself and any bed-mates nuts.
Therefore, it might very well be that you require a night-guard to help keep your jaw aligned properly and keep your mouth shut.
To get one, you’ll need to speak to either your dentist or a sleep specialist, since you’ll need your mouth molded properly in order to shape a guard that best fits your needs. Each mouth is different and mouth guards are never one-size-fits-all.