What Causes Drooling While Sleeping & How To Stop It?

Millions of Americans complain about drooling while sleeping. This can be because of several reasons. Sometimes, drooling while sleeping may be due to some illness, poor sleeping posture or sometimes may also be due to various other reasons.

What Causes Drooling While Sleeping?

What Causes Drooling While Sleeping?

It is an embarrassing thing if you find excessive saliva or if you ever woke up with your face in a puddle of drool or your pillow being soaked with saliva. The medical term for excessive saliva while sleeping is Sialorrhea. The amount of saliva produced in sleeping or resting state during sialorrhea is not actually excessive, but it is the secretion of the saliva or the drooling that causes it to appear like you are producing more saliva than normal amount. In actual, we produce more saliva in our waking state, but we swallow more saliva. It must be informed that drooling may not be a major problem. However, they are embarrassing and thus require treatments. Before proceeding to the treatments we must know about the causes of drooling while sleeping.

  1. Mouth Breathing:

    One of the main causes for drooling while sleeping is breathing via your mouth. Though breathing is an involuntary function and it may be difficult to control how your breathe while sleeping; however most of the times breathing via mouth is because of necessity, like in case of the inability to intake enough oxygen via nose because of several reasons including allergies, nasal congestion, sinus infection, deviated septum etc.

  2. Certain Medication Can Cause Drooling While Sleeping:

    Drooling while sleeping is also caused as side effects of certain medication. Mostly the medications which are Central Nervous System depressants like Pilocarpine and Morphine; are particularly prone to causing drooling. Other, non prescription depressants like alcohol can also cause drooling.

    You may consult with your doctor in case you have more drooling because of the medications you are taking for any of your problem.

  3. Sleeping Position Can Also Cause you to Drool:

    Drooling while sleeping is also caused if you are a side sleeper. Your jaw may hang open and thus may encourage saliva to leak out if you sleep on your side or your stomach. Apart from this, if you sleep on your side, the saliva collects in the side of your mouth and the reflex does not kick in to get rid of the drool. However, if you sleep on your back, saliva collects in the back of the throat and leads to automatic swallowing action.

  4. Certain Illnesses, Diseases and Disorders:

    Some kinds of Illnesses, diseases and disorders causes drooling while sleeping. Below are some of them.

    • GERD or Acidity: This condition makes the gastric acid to stimulate your esophagus and this may in turn excite the esophagosalivary reflex and thus lead to excessive production of saliva. Thus GERD or acidity can cause drooling while sleeping.
    • Allergies or Poisoning: Allergies like food allergy, allergic rhinitis etc causes excessive saliva drooling. Moreover, poisoning especially reaction to insect or snake venom may also cause excessive saliva which results in drooling while sleeping. It must be noted that allergies or poisoning may be life-threatening situation.
    • Sinus Infection: Sinus infection may lead to swallowing and breathing problems. You may keep mouth wide open while sleeping with sinus infection and thus may lead to drooling or the saliva flowing out of your mouth.
    • Tonsillitis: Tonsils are the glands that are present at the back of your throat. In case of tonsillitis when these tonsils become inflamed; they restrict the drainage of accumulated saliva down your throat. This causes drooling while sleeping.
    • Neurological Disorders: If you are suffering from any of the neurological disorder like Autism, Down Syndrome, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Facial Paralysis, Cerebal Palsy, Stroke, Multiple sclerosis etc, you may find it difficult to manage saliva and may suffer from drooling while sleeping.
  5. Dental Problems:

    Dental problems or Gum infections, teething, teeth infections etc can also lead to increase the production of saliva. This may be a cause of drooling while sleeping.

  6. Anatomy of Mouth:

    The anatomy of your mouth may also cause drooling. May be due to a large tongue, or enlarged tonsils, crowded teeth or swollen adenoids; if you are suffering from a difficulty to close your lips while sleeping because of any of these problems; then you may have drooling while sleeping.

  7. Other Causes of Drooling While Sleeping:

    Drooling while sleeping may also be caused due to some other causes like:

    • Side effects like reflux or nausea during pregnancy
    • Mononucleosis
    • Diets high in acidic content

Is Drooling While Sleeping a Serious Problem?

Drooling while sleeping is a pretty common problem and is rarely a symptom of any serious underlying medical problem. However, in rare conditions, excessive drooling can result in breathing saliva in to your lungs which may be dangerous as saliva contains much of the bacteria found in the mouth. This may lead to pneumonia. You must visit a doctor if you find this is happening with you.

How to Stop Drooling While Sleeping?

How to Stop Drooling While Sleeping?

Here are some ways to stop drooling while sleeping

Medical Treatments to Stop Drooling While Sleeping:

You would require a comprehensive medical treatment plan in case you have severe issues of drooling while sleeping. The plan may hold several stages of care including correction of reversible causes, behaviour modification, medical treatment and also surgical procedures in some cases.

There are Atropine sulphate tablets used to treat some causes of excess salivation. These may be prescribed by your doctor along with some behaviour modification strategies.

Surgical procedures are considered only after proper diagnosis of the cause and only if non-invasive treatment options do not work for correcting drooling while sleeping. There are certain drugs used as Glycopyrrolate and Botulinum toxin A (Botox injection in salivary glands.)

Home Treatments to Stop Drooling While Sleeping:

By adopting specific home care methodology, one can stop drooling while sleeping. Below are some of the home treatments you can follow.

  • Stop Breathing Via Mouth:

    At first find out if you are breathing via mouth which may be causing drooling while sleeping. If yes; then do find the cause behind mouth breathing and treat the underlying cause. If you have nasal congestion then taking nasal decongestion like Sudafed can aid relieve the blockage and you may have better breathing. You can consult your doctor in case you are mouth breathing because of any chronic sinus infection and take medications as prescribed by him or her. In case you want to stop mouth breathing because of allergies then talk to your allergist and take prescribed medications.

  • Consult With Your Doctor About Medications:

    If you feel that any of your medications may be causing excessive drooling while sleeping then do talk to your doctor about the same. He or she may prescribe other medications in order to reduce the amount of saliva produced by your glands. Also talk about the side effects of the medications prescribed and take essential precautions for the same.

  • Sleep On your Back:

    If your drooling is caused because of side sleeping then you can practise sleeping on your back. This may be very much beneficial in preventing drooling while sleeping. You can even purchase a pillow specifically designed to support your neck and head for more comfortable back sleeping.

  • Perform Some Facial Exercises:

    There are specific evidences to suggest that one can perform specific face exercise in order to help tone the muscles of the face. This may reduce the sagging that occurs in the skin while one is sleeping. It can effectively help in reducing drooling while sleeping.

  • Drooling Can Be Treated By Deep Breathing:

    Practicing deep breathing is one of the best exercises you can add to your routine as it helps in controlled breathing. This exercise aid you to correct your breathing pattern and you can easily reduce breathing via mouth which can help stop drooling while sleeping.


So, now we have known about some of the causes for drooling while sleeping and also know about their treatments. It must be noted that drooling can be corrected by treating underlying cause of it. So, if you are one of those individuals who is suffering from the problem of drooling in sleep then try out the above mentioned ways of treatment to stop your problem, else consult with your doctor for the best possible treatment.

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:May 11, 2022

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