Why Do People Drool in Their Sleep?
The thing about drooling at night is that you often don’t know you’re doing it. You may be completely unaware until you wake up with a soaked pillow.
Perhaps it just seems inevitable that you’re going to drool at night. While that may be true in part, excessive drooling usually has a cause.
Reasons Why We Drool in Our Sleep
The main reason for nighttime drooling is that you simply don’t swallow as frequently while you’re sleeping as you do during the day. As a result, the saliva dribbles out of your mouth. In many cases, though, there’s more going on than just that.
1. Your position and gravity are a bad combination.
If you sleep on your stomach or your side, you’re more likely to drool excessively. When you’re in one of those positions, the saliva naturally runs out of your open mouth and onto your pillow.
2. You have excess saliva.
Increased saliva production is a side effect of some medications. Psychiatric, neurological and neuromuscular medications may be especially likely to cause this trouble.
3. You can't swallow well.
Some health conditions can make swallowing more of a challenge. The official name for that problem is dysphagia. Parkinson’s disease is one condition that can lead to dysphagia. It can also be a side effect of a stroke.
4. You have a sore throat.
Sometimes, swallowing difficulties are caused by short-term illnesses, such as strep throat. A sore or irritated throat makes nighttime swallowing painful.
5. You're sick or stuffy.
When you have a cold or your allergies are in full force, your body may ramp up its saliva production. It’s trying to clear out the germs or allergens causing your symptoms.
6. You have sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea is a condition that interferes with breathing at night. Many people with this condition unknowingly breathe through their mouths in an attempt to get more air. An open mouth makes it easy for drool to escape.
How to Stop Excessive Drooling?
Don't resign yourself to damp pillows forever. Instead, try these tips.
1. Change your position.
If you normally sleep on your side or stomach, try becoming a back sleeper. That way, gravity will draw saliva toward your throat instead of your pillow.
2. See a medical provider.
You may need a doctor’s help. For example, you should check with the doctor before changing your medications. A referral to a speech-language pathologist may improve dysphagia symptoms. Your doctor can also help with respiratory infections or recommend allergy medicine.
3. Use a CPAP machine.
If you suspect sleep apnea may be the cause of your trouble, talk to your doctor. For many people, using a CPAP machine at night can resolve the symptoms of this condition.
Nighttime Drooling and You
Is it normal to drool at night? Sure, but that doesn’t mean you have to put up with excessive drooling. If puddles on your pillow have become a nightly occurrence, it’s time to take charge of the problem. Change your sleeping position or talk to a doctor about your options.