How To Stop Drooling In Your Sleep

Table of Contents
How to Stop Drooling

The morning sun is shining, the birds are singing, and there it is again: a puddle on your pillow. Plenty of people drool in their sleep, but you may dream of the day you wake up to a dry face. Now, we all need saliva — it protects your teeth, fights germs, repairs tissues, helps you digest food, and even enhances your sense of taste! (1) But why won’t it stay in your mouth while you snooze? Below, we’ll explain what causes saliva overflow and offer some tips that may help you figure out how to stop drooling in your sleep.

Note: The content on Sleepopolis is meant to be informative in nature, but it shouldn’t be taken as medical advice, and it shouldn’t take the place of medical advice and supervision from a trained professional. If you feel you may be suffering from any sleep disorder or medical condition, please see your healthcare provider immediately.

Long Story Short

  • Drooling in your sleep can be normal, but it may also point to other issues like teeth grinding and obstructive sleep apnea.
  • Several factors can cause drooling in your sleep, including infections, tooth decay, and reflux.
  • You can lessen drooling by changing your sleep position, using a chin strap, clearing out nasal congestion, or trying mouth and throat exercises.
  • If you’re concerned about excessive drooling, you may want to consider talking with your healthcare provider about potential causes and solutions.

Is Drooling During Sleep Normal? 

Drooling during sleep is generally normal, says Dr. Alice Hoang, D.M.D., a dentist at Brooklyn Mint. We all make saliva (up to 6 cups a day!), and even though we make less at night, it can still sneak out while we sleep. (2) (3)

A lot of times, you swallow your saliva during sleep, but plenty of factors can lead to drooling. (4) “When you sleep, you lose muscle tone, especially in REM sleep. And if your mouth comes open, and especially if you’re on your side or on your stomach, the saliva that’s produced during sleep is going to come out as drool,” says Dr. Audrey Wells, M.D., sleep physician and founder of Super Sleep M.D. (5)

Sleep Stages and Muscle Tone

As you sleep, you move through five distinct stages: wake, light sleep (N1), deeper sleep (N2), deepest non-REM sleep (N3), and rapid-eye movement (REM) sleep. The first three stages are considered non-rapid eye movement (non-REM) sleep, in which you fall more and more deeply asleep. Your muscles get their most relaxed in N3 and REM. (5)

Here’s How to Stop Drooling in Your Sleep

You can stop drooling in your sleep through a ton of different methods, which usually stem from its various causes.

Change Your Sleep Position

Make gravity work for you — not against you. “If you are a stomach or side sleeper, gravity will naturally guide your saliva out of your mouth and onto your pillow,” says Hoang. (6) A wedge pillow can help you stay on your back through the night, she adds.

Try a Chin Strap

If your mouth stays closed all night, drool can’t escape your lips, right? “Some people with sleep apnea use a chin strap to support the jaw during sleep so that they’re taking the air in through the nose and keeping the mouth closed,” says Wells, “But even people without sleep apnea can use a chin strap or a chin support to keep the mouth closed.”

CPAP Machine (for those with Obstructive Sleep Apnea)

When you have a sleep disorder called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), interrupted and irregular breathing can tell your body to make extra saliva. (6)

Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines help people with OSA sleep and breathe well all night, which can eliminate those drool-causing factors, says Hoang; however, sometimes your CPAP can also cause drooling. If your CPAP is making you drool, you can ask your healthcare provider for some other solutions.

Beat Back Congestion

Nasal congestion can force mouth breathing, meaning you may be sleeping with your mouth wide open — leaving a nice wide path for drool to escape. If you can open up your stuffy nasal passages, you’ll be able to keep your mouth shut and your drool in, says Wells.

Here’s how you can treat some common nasal congestion culprits: (7)

  • Combat your allergies: Talk to your healthcare provider about allergy triggers and medications. When you avoid your allergens and treat the ones that slip by, your nasal passages stay open and your mouth can stay closed. (8)
  • Use a humidifier: Humidifiers add moisture to the air, which can break up mucus and unstuff your nose. (9)
  • Try nasal strips: These stiff stickers go on the bridge of your nose and widen your nostrils, making more room for air to get in and out, says Wells.
  • Consider herbal therapies: Some recent research suggests herbal remedies can clear out nasal congestion, including cineole (eucalyptus), Pelargonium sidoides (a plant native to South Africa), and Origanum vulgare (oregano). (10) (11) (12) (13)

Wells also suggests a saline nasal rinse or a topical steroid spray if the options above aren’t helping.

Try Speech Therapy 

Speech therapy can help with any swallowing issues, and myofunctional therapy (mouth/throat exercises) can help you keep your tongue on the roof of your mouth, says Wells. (7) “That good tongue posture is something that promotes mouth closure during sleep.” 

Ask Your Provider about Medications, Botox, or Surgery

Now, it’s important to note that your doctor isn’t likely to recommend these solutions the first time you come in complaining about a drool problem — typically, these treatments are only recommended if you have a severe neurological injury or diagnosis, says Wells. Some medications, like Robinul, dry up the drool for kids who rarely close their mouths, she adds. In general, medications for drooling are only considered if all other options haven’t worked. (14

Other more serious and rare treatment options for drooling include Botox injections and surgery. Botox blocks the mechanism that releases saliva for three to four months, and is most often used by people with neurological disorders and chronic drooling. (15)

Similarly, surgery options are irreversible, and are most used in people with severe neurological conditions. (14) “I’ve never recommended a patient get surgery for drooling,” says Wells. “You’d have to go through several treatments before that would be something to consider.”

Why Do I Drool in My Sleep? 

Most people drool because of one of three overarching reasons: too much saliva, difficulty swallowing, or trouble keeping your mouth closed while you sleep. (7) All sorts of illnesses, medications, and temporary circumstances can affect how you handle your saliva. (1)

Open-Mouth Sleeping

“We should preferentially breathe through our nose during sleep instead of the mouth,” says Wells. But plenty of factors can make air bypass your nose when you sleep.

One of these is nasal congestion, says Wells, which can stem from allergies, swollen tonsils, medication side effects, and a temporary illness like a head cold. (7)


Any infection that provokes not-so-nice symptoms around your mouth and throat, like upper airway infections, can prompt your body to make extra saliva, which can overflow at night as drool. These infections include: (7)

  • Mononucleosis (“Mono”)
  • Tonsil abscess or inflammation
  • Strep throat
  • Sinus infections

Interestingly, snake or insect venom can also up the amount of spit you’re producing, but you’ll probably have bigger fish to fry in those situations… (7)

Tooth Decay

On a typical day, your saliva works to keep your mouth clean and constantly flushes out food particles. When you get a cavity, your body knows it, and can up its saliva production in response to keep that area clean. (16)

Swallowing Disorders

If you have trouble swallowing (oropharyngeal dysphagia), your saliva has limited options on where else to go. One of those options? Yep: straight out of your mouth and onto your pillow. (17)


When you have gastroesophageal reflux disease, commonly known as GERD, stomach contents like acid and food sneak up your esophagus and into your mouth, which gets worse when you lie flat. (16) When acid hits your mouth, your body makes extra saliva to dilute it, says Wells. (7)

The extra acid in your mouth can also trigger teeth grinding, says Hoang — more on that next!.

Bruxism (Teeth Grinding)

“When we grind our teeth, it mechanically stimulates saliva which buffers acid,” says Hoang. This protects our teeth from acidic wear and tear, but our pillow has to take the hit, drool-wise.

Grinding your teeth can also be a sign of sleep apnea, says Wells, so if it happens a lot, be sure to let your healthcare provider know.


The fan-favorite nausea and reflux that comes along with a growing bump can also make pregnant people susceptible to a drool overload. (7)

Medication Side Effects

Some medications can cause excess saliva production. This is especially true for antipsychotic medications like lithium, risperidone, and clozapine.(16) (18) (19) 

Chronic Medical Conditions 

Medical conditions that affect your brain can also come with extra drooling. Some of the most common diagnoses that are linked with drooling include: (7) (14

  • Parkinsons
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Bell’s Palsy (20)
  • Huntington’s disease (21)
  • Stroke
  • Traumatic Brain Injury
  • ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease)
  • Autism
  • Down syndrome
  • Multiple sclerosis

These disorders can keep the muscles of your face, mouth, and throat loose and floppy, making it difficult to keep saliva in your mouth. (22) Chronic conditions like these may warrant some of the more invasive treatments we listed above, like Botox or surgery.

When to Talk to Your Doctor

Let your healthcare provider know about any new drooling with no obvious cause and any drooling that won’t go away. (7) If you find yourself coughing or gagging on your drool, that’s an extra good reason to talk to your provider, because too much saliva down the wrong pipe has the potential to cause pneumonia, although that’s rare. (23) (24

If your drooling comes from teeth grinding over a long period, or you also wake up often through the night gasping for breath, your provider may want to test you for sleep apnea, says Wells. (25)


Are there any home remedies for drooling?

To lessen your drooling while you sleep, you can try a chin strap to keep your mouth closed, change your sleeping position (back is best), or clear up your nasal congestion with a humidifier, nasal strips, or allergy treatment, says Wells.

Is drooling in your sleep a sign of diabetes?

“Usually, diabetes is associated with the opposite problem: mouth dryness,” says Wells. “In general, no, [drooling] is not a sign of diabetes.”

Why am I drooling in my sleep all of a sudden?

The sudden appearance of drooling in your sleep can come from new acid reflux, grinding and clenching your teeth, allergies, or a cold, says Wells, who also cautions it could point to sleep apnea.

The Last Word From Sleepopolis 

If your morning drool puddle has you worried, you have options! And while it can be normal, drooling may also point to other issues like teeth grinding and obstructive sleep apnea, says Wells. (6) So, if the tips and tricks we gave you aren’t cutting it, head on over to your healthcare provider for a checkup and some answers. 


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         Hoang, Alice, DMD. Personal Interview. May 1, 2024.

Abby McCoy

Abby McCoy

Abby McCoy is an RN of 16 years who has worked with adults and pediatric patients encompassing trauma, orthopedics, home care, transplant, and case management. She has practiced nursing all over the world from San Fransisco, CA to Tharaka, Kenya. Abby loves spending time with her husband, four kids, and their cat named Cat.