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What Causes Excessive Drooling of Saliva During Sleep and How to Stop It


How to stop drooling during sleep

Why you drool when you sleep and how to stop it? Drooling might be alright when a baby does it, but when it comes to an adults, waking up in a puddle of your own spit can be annoying and quite embarrassing, especially if you don't sleep alone. 

Oh, we've all drooled on our pillow at one point or another. But if you've found that your drooling has become excessive, keep on reading  to learn how you can stop it once and for all. 

Why People Drool Saliva During Sleep?

Before you learn how to stop drooling, let's get into why people drool in the first place. When you sleep, your facial muscles, along with your swallowing reflexes, reach a state of total relaxation. That's what makes you look so peaceful during sleep.

So, when you combine relaxed facial muscles that cause your mouth to open slightly, plus saliva that accumulates as you sleep, you get a pillow that's covered in drool. By the way, that's why babies drool all the time. They can't control their facial muscles, whether they're asleep or awake. 

Well, if it's harmless for babies, it's probably nothing worth worrying about as an adult, right? Well, not quite. Remember that there is such a thing as too much drooling, in both babies and adults. If it occurs regularly and excessively, it can be a sign of a developing disease or some malfunction taking place in the body. 

What Causes Excessive Drooling of Saliva During Sleep 

Excess drooling, also known as hypersalivation, can be the result of nasal congestion or even a sign of a neurological disorder. Those who've already had health issues, like stroke sufferers or people with multiple sclerosis, for instance, tend to drool more often and more excessively. But if your drooling isn't medical-related, here are some ways you can stop it.

How to Stop Drooling of Saliva During Sleep 

7. Change your sleeping position 

This might be the only trick you need if you naturally sleep in a position that allows gravity to pull your saliva out of your mouth and onto your pillow. So, if you sleep on your side or on your belly, you have a much higher chance of drooling throughout the night. As obvious as it might sound, sleeping on your back will keep all that saliva in your mouth so it doesn't drool out. 

If it's too hard for you to stay in one position for the entire night, try tucking yourself in between the pillows to stabilize your body. If you catch yourself rolling over in the middle of the night, remind yourself why you need to sleep on your back. You can even make it a little rhyme, sleep on your hip, your spit will drip, or don't roll over, fool, you're going to  drool. Well, I'm no poet, but you get it. 

6. Use an oral device to stop drooling 

Yes, special anti-drooling devices do exist, and they're actually really effective. Consulting a dentist can help you get the right device for your mouth that will help reduce your drooling. 

These dental pieces place the tongue in the right position and help keep your mouth closed as you sleep. A dental device might not be for everyone though. If you really care about how you look while you sleep, you might want to try a different method. 

But if you sleep alone, with a trusted partner, or you're so tired of drooling that you'll try anything, an oral device is a good choice. 

5. Check for sleep apnea 

Sleep apnea is a very serious disorder when a person's breathing doesn't go as smoothly as it should during sleep. Their breath can become shallow, and they might even stop breathing multiple times throughout the night. 

This condition leads to interrupted and poor quality sleep, feeling tired in the morning, and drowsiness throughout the day. There are a lot of indicators for sleep apnea, and drooling is one of them. If you drool but wake up with a dry mouth, you might be at risk for sleep apnea. 

If you think that you may have this disorder, contact your doctor to discuss it in depth. Remember that factors like smoking and obesity increase the risk of developing sleep apnea and breathing issues in general. 

4. Review your medications

When drooling is caused by a certain medicine, the problem isn't that your mouth isn't just swallowing at night, but that your body is producing too much saliva. 

If you're taking any medicine, make sure that a side effect isn't the production of excess saliva. Some antibiotics and antidepressants, for example, can cause hypersalivation and be the reason for excess drooling. 

If drooling is listed as a side effect, consult your doctor since they can prescribe you some medication to stop the hypersalivation or switch your current medication for another one that doesn't cause it.

3. Keep your head up 

Yeah, sure, it's always better to keep your head up during difficult times. But we're talking about sleep here. Elevating your head and sleeping on a higher pillow can reduce drooling. 

Simply fluff up your pillow before you go to bed and make sure you feel comfortable lying on it. If you can't remember the last time you changed your pillow, then this is a good opportunity to save your neck from a pillow with no support left. A good pillow that will keep your head up and keep you from rolling over onto your side or stomach is a wedge pillow. 

If you've never had or seen one, they can look a bit strange at first glance. But don't worry, that doorstopper look will grow on you, especially if it means not waking up in a puddle of saliva anymore. 

2. Check if the issue is neurological If the issue is neurological and the neurological cause has been treated, your doctor can prescribe you a special oral medicine or a medicated patch to treat your saliva problem. 

This wearable patch contains scopolamine, which will reroute the nerve impulses before they connect with the salivary glands, thus preventing drooling. Sometimes in very drastic cases, doctors might recommend getting surgery to remove the glands. This usually happens when there are serious neurological issues hiding behind hypersalivation. 

1. Clear your sinuses, treat sinusitis and cold

One of the main causes of drooling is a blocked nose. When your nose won't allow any air in, you breathe through your mouth and drooling ensues. Cleaning and unblocking your nasal sinuses could be a simple and effective way out of sleeping on a wet pillow every night.

It could be as easy as blowing your nose before you head to bed. But other factors, like your country's climate and the dryness and humidity levels in your home, can also play a role in stuffing up your nose. So, here are some more ways you can unclog your sinuses. 

A hot shower close to bedtime will clear the nose and allow normal breathing at night. Make sure that it's steamy enough to do the trick. Essential oils, particularly ones containing eucalyptus, will help you breathe more freely and get better sleep. 

Putting the oil inside a diffuser will disperse the scent throughout the entire room. Use over-the-counter medicine that helps clear sinuses. 

If the climate where you live is very dry, install a humidifier in your room. A good way to check the dryness in your room is to get a humidity meter. They can be purchased online or from pretty much any pharmacy. 

Make sure you treat any nasal infection as soon as it appears. Having a sinus infection will make your nasal passages swell up, forcing you to breathe through your mouth. As you know by now, that usually equals nighttime drooling. 


Follow these recommendations to sleep soundly and wake up to fresh, dry pillows each and every morning. Which of these tips are you going to try? Let us know in the comments below.


2. J.P. Meningaud et al. Drooling of saliva: A review of the etiology and management options
Oral Surgery, Oral Medicine, Oral Pathology, Oral Radiology and Endodontics

3. Ji Yong Joo, Sung Ha Kim, Bon Seok Koo, Yeo Hoon Yoon, A Case of Drooling during Sleep Treated with Wharton's Duct Relocation, Korean Journal of Otorhinolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery 56 (2), 102-104, 2013.

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