Reasons for Drooling in Your Sleep

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Drooling in your sleep can have a number of causes. In general, when you sleep, the muscles in your face and body relax. Your mouth may fall open causing excess saliva to run out.

Other reasons for drooling too much, also called sialorrhea or hypersalivation, may include certain medications, nasal congestion, sleep apnea, neurological conditions, pregnancy, and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

This article explains why you may drool when you sleep and what you can do about it.

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Luis Alvarez / Getty Images

Is It Normal to Drool in My Sleep?

Drooling in your sleep is often totally normal. However, if it happens suddenly and often or is excessive, it may signal a health condition.

Keep in mind that saliva production continues while you sleep to help protect the hard and soft tissues within your mouth and throat from acids and germs.

Why Do I Drool When I Sleep?

Drooling in your sleep is either due to making too much saliva, breathing with your mouth open and having saliva escape, or having difficulty swallowing. Drooling in your sleep can occur for a variety of reasons, including sleep position, pregnancy, as a side effect of medications, as well as certain conditions.

Sleep Position

The muscles of the body relax during sleep, especially during REM sleep. It's possible that your mouth is falling open as you sleep. If you sleep on your side or your stomach, drool may be more likely to escape from the sides of your mouth as you sleep.

Medication Side Effects

Drooling can be a side effect of certain medications, including sedatives, antipsychotic drugs, some antibiotics, certain medications used to treat Alzheimer's disease, and some nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

If you are taking a medication that causes drooling as a side effect, continue taking it as prescribed, and reach out to your healthcare provider if you are concerned.

Nasal Congestion

One of the biggest reasons your mouth could open during sleep is that you can’t breathe well through your nose. If you're congested because of a cold or allergies, you may begin to breathe through your mouth. If this occurs in your sleep, you may drool on your pillow.

A deviated nasal septum can also be to blame. Inside your nose, a thin wall called a septum separates one side of your nose from the other. If you're born with an off-center or uneven septum, airflow on the narrower side could be partly blocked. This may cause you to snore though your mouth, which can lead to drooling when you sleep.

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea, a condition in which your breathing pauses during sleep, can cause nighttime mouth breathing and excessive saliva. In addition to drooling when you sleep, other sleep apnea symptoms may include:

  • Loud snoring
  • Sounds of choking
  • Feeling tired during the day

Sleep apnea is a serious condition. If you believe you may have it, it's important to reach out to your healthcare provider right away.

Underlying Neurological Conditions

Some people produce excess saliva, a condition called sialorrhea. Sialorrhea can be a result of:

These conditions can make it harder to swallow. If you have a hard time swallowing, you may drool while you sleep and during the day as well.


Salivating more during pregnancy, also known as ptyalism gravidarum, is a common occurrence in early pregnancy and can lead to drooling while you sleep. Other associated symptoms include:

  • Swollen salivary glands
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Social and emotional distress

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

Drooling in your sleep can also be related to gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a long-term digestive system disorder. Aside from heartburn, another symptom of GERD is dysphagia, or difficulty swallowing. This can cause a choking sensation or a feeling as if there's food stuck in your throat, which can lead to excess salivation and drooling.

How To Stop Yourself From Drooling in Your Sleep

In general, it is not necessary to treat drooling that happens while you sleep. It may be annoying, but won’t lead to dehydration, infection, or other problems. However, if you feel you are excessively drooling, you may consider:

  • Changing sleep positions and sleeping on your back
  • Discussing your current medication regimen with your healthcare provider if drooling is a side effect
  • Treating allergies so you can breathe more easily through your nose
  • Managing your deviated septum with medications or surgery called a septoplasty, which aims to straighten the septum and reduce uncomfortable symptoms
  • Treating sleep apnea with lifestyle changes, medical devices that help with breathing, and possibly surgery
  • Using medications, like Botox injections, prescription oral medications, and prescription patches, to help manage drooling if you have an underlying neurological condition
  • Managing GERD with lifestyle changes and possibly surgery


Drooling during sleep isn't uncommon and may not be a sign of a health problem. It can happen because you're breathing through your mouth instead of your nose. Congestion, your nasal anatomy, and sleep apnea can cause you to breathe through your mouth.

Sometimes people produce more saliva than they can swallow. Medications and early pregnancy can cause this kind of overproduction. Some health conditions make it harder to swallow, too, leading to drooling throughout the day.

If you are concerned about what's causing you to drool, speak with your healthcare provider to see if you need further evaluation and treatment.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can medication cause you to drool in your sleep?

    Yes. Hypersalivation can be caused by certain prescription drugs such as clozapine, an antipsychotic drug. Medications for Alzheimer’s disease, myasthenia gravis, or other diseases may also cause excess saliva and nighttime drooling.

  • How can I get rid of mouth pain and extra drool?

    If you have excess saliva and pain in your mouth or gums, you may have an infection or cavity in your teeth. Creating more saliva is one way the body might try to fight off an infection in the mouth. See your dentist for a cleaning and thorough check up.

10 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Brandon Peters, MD
Brandon Peters, MD, is a board-certified neurologist and sleep medicine specialist.