We’ve surely all had the nearly universal experience of waking up either in the morning or in the middle of the night to find your pillow damp and the side of your face scratchy with dried drool. Drooling in your sleep is perfectly natural and, in most situations, completely harmless. But if you notice that you or someone you share a bed with seems to be experiencing consistent excessive drooling, it’s worth taking steps to look into the situation further.

While drooling in and of itself is not a serious issue. However, excessive drooling while sleeping can indicate the presence of other sleep issues with potentially serious consequences. In this article, we’ll explore some of the basic facts you should be aware of when it comes to oral hygiene, drooling, and sleep apnea. 

What is Sleep Apnea?

As you may already know, sleep apnea is a sleep disorder where a person’s normal breathing patterns during sleep are interrupted. There are two common kinds of sleep apnea: obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and central sleep apnea (CSA)

Generally speaking, those suffering from OSA have some kind of physical feature that impedes their breathing or obstructs their airway. CSA tends to be an issue where the brain can no longer communicate successfully with muscles responsible for breathing. In both cases, similar to drooling, the initial side effects can seem mild but can compound and lead to complications if ignored.

In the short term, sleep apnea usually results in headaches, irritability, and feeling tired or unrested. In the long run, however, that interruption to regular healthy sleep can lead to much more serious issues like depression and type 2 diabetes.

Drooling & Sleep Apnea: The Connection

While it’s not always the case, drooling and sleep apnea are often connected phenomena, as the two issues can feed into one another. For starters, the irregular breathing habits that arise from sleep apnea (this can involve up to thirty small pauses per hour) can easily generate excess drool in the throat, which then needs to be expelled to keep breathing easy. 

In addition, because sleep apnea causes labored and interrupted breathing, sufferers of the disorder are more likely to breathe through their mouths rather than their noses while asleep. Especially with OSA, an obstructed airway makes getting enough air in each breath challenging, and breathing through your mouth can compensate for the reduced oxygen flow.

Other Potential Causes of Drooling

While it’s important to stay vigilant and monitor any drooling habits you or a loved one may form, there’s also no need to panic at the first sight of drool on the pillow. An increase in drool while sleeping could arise from a wide variety of possible sources:

  • GERD (gastrointestinal reflux disorder) or similar acid reflux issues.
  • Sinus issues
  • Allergies
  • Sleeping position
  • Side effects from some medications

In short, drooling can often be connected to sleep apnea, although it can just as frequently be a sign of a different issue. To avoid the complications that can arise from untreated sleep apnea, you should stay alert for other tell-tale symptoms of the condition that would come along with drooling:

  • Morning headaches
  • Irritability
  • Excessive tiredness during the day
  • Snoring

Methods to Tackle Excessive Drooling

Generally speaking, when it’s directly caused by sleep apnea, the best method for reducing excessive nighttime drooling is to seek treatment for the sleep apnea. That said, even in those cases, a person with sleep apnea may suffer from excessive drooling for a completely unrelated reason. Below are some common solutions for night drooling.  

Seek Allergy Treatment 

Drooling can be a common symptom of more serious seasonal allergies. Seeking treatment for those allergies will also typically alleviate drooling. Clearing the path for easier breathing through your nose will often help reduce night drooling.

Change Your Sleeping Position

While sleeping on one’s side is extremely common, this positioning frequently makes it easy for the saliva in one’s mouth to exit. A change in sleeping position can also be useful in combatting sleep apnea in some cases. 

Consult About Current Medications

If you’ve started a new medication relatively recently, it’s worth asking your doctor if drooling is a potential side effect. 

Surgery & Medical Intervention

Excessive night drooling can also be treated with more direct medical interventions. Doctors may prescribe special patches or medications, and in more extreme cases, botox injected into salivary glands in the mouth can offer a solution as well.

Improve Your Sleep Quality With DreamZz Sleep Center

It’s important to remember that drooling at night is not necessarily a worrying or dangerous thing in itself, but neither should it be ignored. Sleep is one of the most important and foundational parts of the human experience. When our sleep is interrupted, that interruption seeps in and affects every other aspect of a person’s life. 

That’s why safeguarding your sleep hygiene is so critical and why there’s no better option than DreamZz Sleep Center if you want to improve your sleep quality. We specialize in sleep apnea, insomnia, narcolepsy, and more.

Don’t hesitate to contact us today to learn how we can help you sleep better at night.