Updated February 3, 2021While it’s normal to wake up with a wet pillow occasionally, constantly finding excess saliva on your bedding while you’re sleeping may be an indication of a far more serious problem.Your salivary glands are responsible for the production of saliva and play an important role for a number of reasons, including:Keeping your mouth moist and comfortableHelping you chew, taste, and swallowFighting germs in your mouth and preventing bad breathSaliva production is often at its highest when we’re awake and drops dramatically when we sleep, so regularly drooling when you’re asleep may mean you’re actually suffering from hypersalivation.The Common Causes of Drooling When Sleeping Hypersalivation, or excessive drooling, is a medical condition called sialorrhea. Poor oral and facial muscle control is a common reason. This could be the result of one of the following causes.1. Sleeping PositionWhile side and stomach sleeping may be the two most popular sleeping positions, they are also the most likely cause of drooling when you sleep.Even if you don’t suffer from excessive saliva production, drool has a greater opportunity of pooling in your mouth in either sleep position — which means there’s a high chance it’ll escape from the front or side of your mouth. If you have a habit of mouth breathing while sleeping or if you have narrow nasal passages, the chances of drool escaping as your lips part to breathe increases.2. Sleep ApneaSleep apnea is a sleep disorder where you stop breathing for a few seconds when you’re sleeping. There are three different types of sleep apnea:Obstructive sleep apnea: When your airway becomes blocked or partially blockedCentral sleep apnea: When your brain fails to tell your body to breatheComplex sleep apnea: A combination of obstructive and central sleep apneaThe irregular breathing caused by all three types of sleep apnea tends to encourage excessive saliva production and mouth breathing, which can, in turn, lead to drooling easily escaping from your open mouth.Other symptoms of sleep apnea include snoring, feeling sleepy during the day, and having a sore throat or dry mouth in the morning.3. Gastrointestinal Reflux DisorderHeartburn and acid reflux are two of the more common symptoms of gastrointestinal reflux disorder (GERD). GERD can cause you to regurgitate what you’ve eaten back into your esophagus, and make it difficult for you to swallow as you’ll feel like food is returning into your mouth, leaving an acidic or bitter taste.Your body also increases its saliva production to try to flush out the irritation in your esophagus, therefore increasing the chances of drooling when you sleep.4. Allergies and InfectionsAllergic reactions, sinus infections, and sinus problems caused by mold, pollen, or the common cold often result in nasal congestion, which in turn creates breathing difficulties, as well as an increase in saliva production to flush any toxins out.Also, if you’re suffering from strep throat or tonsillitis, you’ll probably have trouble swallowing, which means saliva has an increased chance of escaping your mouth while you sleep.5. Swallowing DisordersNeurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease and stroke, or medical conditions such as cerebral palsy or Bell’s palsy can result in swallowing disorders, also called dysphagia. All of these health problems will often result in a loss of control of facial or oral muscles, which can create problems in swallowing.6. Side Effects of MedicationsSome drugs can actually induce drooling, the most common of which are those used to treat psychiatric disorders and Alzheimer’s disease, as well as some antibiotics.Complications That Arise From Drooling When SleepingThere are physical and psychological complications that arise from frequent drooling. These include:DehydrationFoul odorDecreased self-esteemChapping, irritation, and a breakdown of the skin around the mouthPneumonia (caused by inhaling excessive saliva that has pooled in the back of the throat)How to Stop Drooling When Sleeping Drooling when sleeping doesn’t have to be a condition you live with. There are a number of treatment options available to stop or prevent drooling and help you get better sleep.1. Change Your Sleeping PositionThe first thing you could try if you find you’re drooling when you sleep is to change your sleeping position. Sleeping on your back can help to direct saliva flow back into your mouth, reducing the chances of it pooling in your mouth or flowing out when you’re sleeping.2. Mouth DevicesMouth devices such as a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine or mandibular advancement device are commonly used to help with sleep apnea.A CPAP machine helps to keep your airway open while you sleep by blowing air with continuous pressure down your throat, potentially reducing the occurrence of drool when you sleep.The mandibular device looks like a mouthguard and is designed to improve sleep and reduce drooling and snoring. It adjusts the positioning of your tongue and encourages your mouth to close.3. MedicationIf you’re suffering from sinus allergies and reactions, taking the appropriate medication to relieve symptoms can help you to breathe better and therefore reduce any chances of drooling when you sleep. Anticholinergic medications such as scopolamine can also be used to help reduce drooling.4. Primary Health Care ProvidersIf you have a serious drooling or swallowing problem, or if you suffer from a neurological condition, there are primary health care providers who can help, including:Speech pathologists, who can offer speech therapy to help improve jaw stability and tongue strength and mobility to help you close your mouth fully.Occupational therapists, who can suggest postural changes to improve your ability to swallow.Neurologists, who can suggest alternative medications if you’re suffering from Alzheimer’s and taking medication that’s causing excess drooling.5. SurgeryGetting your salivary glands surgically removed is the last resort option since as earlier mentioned, they do play an important role in keeping us healthy. However, if most other treatments have not worked and you’re still suffering from excessive drooling, surgery may help to curb hypersalivation.So, Why Do I Drool When I Sleep?Consistently waking up to a wet pillow doesn’t have to be an unavoidable fact of life. In fact, it’s often a sign something needs to change or be addressed, and as you can see, there are some simple treatment options available.However, the answers to why you drool in your sleep are varied, so it’s important to determine if there’s an underlying medical condition. If the changes you’ve made or treatment options you’ve tried don’t work, speak to your doctor about alternative solutions.This article is for informational purposes and should not replace advice from your doctor or other medical professional. 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