Did you know that the average person produces approximately 3 to 6 cups of saliva per day? We know — ew. But all that drool might not be as gross as you think.
Our saliva is mainly made of water and serves as an essential part of maintaining oral hygiene. Beyond keeping your teeth strong, saliva also helps you taste and chew, fights germs, prevents bad breath, and protects your tooth enamel.
But even those who prepare with effective bedtime routines may experience the frustration of drooling in their sleep. So why does it happen, and how can you stop drooling in your sleep?
Stomach or side sleepers may find an easy fix to drooling while asleep — switching to sleeping on your back. The logic behind switching to back sleeping can be traced directly to the laws of gravity, since drool is most likely to come from your mouth when it’s angled downward.
But for some, changing up your sleeping position is easier said than done. Seeing as nearly 3 in 4 people sleep on their sides, side sleepers (and even stomach sleepers) may need to put in some practice to switch to back sleeping.
If you want to start sleeping on your back, it’s crucial to have a comfortable mattress that fits your preferences. While sleeping on your back isn’t a solution and may not be recommended for everyone (pregnant women may find it difficult, for example), it’s a great start to help minimize drooling in your sleep.
Tip: Placing a pillow underneath your knees can ease tension on your lower back, smoothing the transition to sleeping on your back.
Whether you’re a back or side sleeper, propping up your head can help minimize the chance of drooling in your sleep. A simple way to ease your sleeping position transition is by finding the right pillow for your new sleeping position.
However, research has shown that pillows with too high of a loft may increase pressure on your cranial and cervical spine alignment, which is why it’s important to find a pillow with the correct loft for your needs. For example, back sleepers tend to do best with medium loft pillows made of materials like down or down alternative.
Tip: Many back sleepers prefer medium loft pillows that measure between 3 to 5 inches thick.
Because your muscle activity slows while you’re asleep, your saliva production naturally decreases as well. This is what can lead to that oh-so-dreaded morning breath — but did you know that excess saliva production at night can also be a cause of drooling in your sleep?
Staying hydrated can help reduce the excess saliva production that causes drooling in your sleep. You should be aiming for 64 ounces of water during the day to stay hydrated, but you’ll also want to keep some water by your bed to quench your nighttime thirst.
Tip: To keep hydrated, Mayo Clinic recommends drinking eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day, or about 8 ounces every three hours.
Disclaimer: Talk to your dentist to figure out if a mouthguard could be the right choice for you.
A mouthpiece, also called a mouthguard or night guard, is a device that you put in your mouth at night to help with conditions like TMJ or teeth grinding. Although mouthguards may initially lead to increased drooling, over time, your mouth will adjust to the feeling and it may even help you control excess drooling in your sleep.
Generic mouthguards are available over the counter, but dentists are also able to make custom-fit mouthguards that may be more comfortable since they’re molded specifically to your mouth.
Tip: Although introducing a mouthguard at night may cause excess drooling for the first few weeks, a custom-made mouthguard can help minimize discomfort and lead to decreased drooling over time.
Another common culprit of drooling in your sleep is one of the biggest annual irritations — allergies. Since stuffy noses often lead to mouth breathing, allergies can actually increase the likelihood of drooling in your sleep.
Whether you have seasonal allergies or a sinus infection, allergist Neeta Ogden, M.D., says, “Respiratory allergies cause symptoms like nasal congestion, post-nasal drip, and itchy nose and eyes, and can be particularly bothersome at night.”
So if your allergies are a potential cause of your nighttime saliva situation, how can you stop drooling in your sleep? According to Ogden, you may want to give these ideas a try:
Tip: At-home allergy remedies like air purifiers, hypoallergenic bed sheets, and minimizing pet dander contact can help clear allergy symptoms that could be causing excess drooling at night.
Disclaimer: Before considering taking any type of medication for this problem or any other, please consult your doctor.
In some situations, doctors may prescribe medication to help with drooling in your sleep. While not all medications require a prescription, there are common medical solutions that have helped people who drool in their sleep.
The two most popular medications taken to control sleep drooling are scopolamine and glycopyrrolate. In a study of patients who used scopolamine patches, researchers found that those who used the patch had a significant drooling reduction compared to those who didn’t use the patch. Another study conducted with glycopyrrolate tablets found that patients who took the tablets saw a noticeable reduction in drooling during the duration of taking the medication.
However, it’s important to note that taking medications like scopolamine and glycopyrrolate can have adverse side effects, including:
Tip: If you’re looking for a prescription method to help you stop drooling in your sleep, you should talk to your doctor to determine whether you’re a good candidate for medication.
Disclaimer: Talk to your medical provider before seeking injectable treatments.
Although botulinum toxin (Botox) is not an FDA-approved drooling treatment, it is rising in popularity as a potential solution to people’s drooling woes. The treatment works by injecting Botox into the salivary glands of a person’s face to paralyze the muscles, preventing the glands from functioning at their full potential.
While some studies have shown Botox to be an effective drooling solution, it’s important to remember that Botox is not an FDA-approved treatment for a drooling problem. Before getting injectable treatments like Botox, you should talk to your medical provider to see if it’s a good solution for you.
Tip: Treatment with Botox is not permanent and can be repeated approximately every six months. You should be talking with your medical provider before seeking any treatment with Botox or another injectable.
Drooling while sleeping can be traced to several causes, from your sleeping position to your age. Here are some common reasons why you may be drooling in your sleep:
Please consult a doctor about any potential medical problem you may have.
While drooling in your sleep can be frustrating, the cause of it can often be traced back to simple issues like allergies or your sleeping position. However, if you consistently find yourself waking up with an unwelcome surprise on your pillow, you may want to look into washing your pillow more often while you figure out a long-term solution.