The Science Behind Drooling: Understanding Why We Drool When We Sleep


Have you ever woken up with a wet pillow and embarrassing stains on your sheets because of drooling during sleep? You are not alone. According to sleep experts, about 5% of adults have issues with sleeping and drooling, which can impact the quality of their rest. In this article, we will explore the science behind drooling and what factors contribute to this phenomenon.

The Science Behind Drooling: Understanding the Mechanism of Drooling during Sleep

Saliva is produced by the salivary glands, and its primary role is to moisten the mouth and facilitate digestion. The salivary glands are located around the mouth and are triggered by both voluntary and involuntary actions. These glands produce about a quart (1 liter) of saliva each day, which is more than enough to cause drooling.

The Autonomic Nervous System plays a crucial role in the regulation of fluid production in the mouth. It is divided into two halves- Sympathetic and Parasympathetic. The Sympathetic system reduces salivary production, while the Parasympathetic system stimulates salivary gland function and increases saliva production.

Different stages of sleep also have an impact on drooling. During the Rapid Eye Movement (REM) stage of sleep, our body is in a state of deep relaxation, and the muscles become inactive. The relaxation of the facial muscles, including the jaw and tongue, can facilitate drooling.

Is Drooling During Sleep Normal? Exploring the Causes and Frequency of Drooling

Drooling is not always considered as an indicator of a problem. In a healthy person, A Normal adult produces less than 0.13 milliliters of saliva per minute. However, various factors can lead to excessive drooling during sleep. These factors include sleep disorders, dental issues, and certain medications that promote salivation.

Moreover, there are various medical conditions that promote excessive salivation leading to drooling. Such conditions include allergies, neurological issues, Parkinson’s disease, and stroke. In such situations, drooling becomes a clinical issue and needs medical attention.

The Link Between Sleep Position and Drooling: Why Do Some People Drool More Than Others?

The sleeping position can also impact the amount of drool you produce during sleep. According to experts, sleeping on one’s back makes it more likely to drool compared to other positions. It is due to an increase in salivary production, which occurs when a person sleeps on their back. Sleeping on one’s side or stomach can significantly reduce the likelihood of drooling.

To avoid drooling during sleep, it is recommended to sleep on your side rather than your back. Investing in a good pillow optimized for side-sleeping can help prevent drooling. Additionally, some people find relief by keeping the head elevated with an extra pillow or using a dental appliance that stabilizes the tongue.

Drooling When Sleeping: How It Can Affect Your Sleep Quality and What You Can Do About It

Excessive drooling during sleep can adversely affect sleep quality. The presence of drool in the mouth can cause discomfort, interrupt sleep, and even promote bacterial growth in the oral cavity. Additionally, drooling can lead to skin irritation and staining on the pillowcase, which can be troublesome to clean up.

To reduce drooling, maintaining good oral hygiene can be helpful. Daily brushing, flossing, and using mouthwash can help keep the mouth clean and reduce salivary gland activity. Using specialized pillows, mouthguards, or dental appliances can also help keep the mouth dry while sleeping.

A Complete Guide to Controlling Drooling When You Sleep: Tips and Tricks

If you have trouble controlling drooling while sleeping, here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Elevating your head while sleeping can reduce salivary production and prevent drooling.
  • Sleeping on your side or stomach can reduce the likelihood of drooling.
  • Avoiding alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine before bedtime can also reduce the chance of drooling.
  • Maintaining good oral hygiene can help reduce salivary gland activity and control drooling.
  • Using specialized pillows or dental appliances designed to prevent drooling.
  • Consulting with a physician if drooling has become a persistent issue.

The Surprising Benefits of Drooling While Sleeping: How It May Improve Your Health

Recent research suggests that drooling during sleep may have some health benefits. Saliva plays a crucial role in maintaining good oral health. It contains enzymes and antibacterial agents that help break down food particles and prevent bacterial growth. Some studies suggest that drooling can help reduce the risk of cavities and other oral health problems.

Drooling may also have an impact on digestion and overall immune function. Saliva contains enzymes that help break down food and activate white blood cells to fight off disease-causing microbes, thus promoting nutritional balance and helping preclude infections.

The Psychological Perspective of Drooling During Sleep: Does It Reveal Anything About Your Personality or Habits?

One common myth about drooling is that it reflects certain personality traits or habits. However, this is not accurate. Drooling can happen to anyone and is not indicative of any underlying character. Instead, it may be related to an individual’s sleeping position, lifestyle habits, or certain medical conditions, medications and hence can be controlled.


Now that you have a better understanding of why we drool during sleep, you can take steps to reduce its effects on your sleep quality and overall health. By optimizing your sleeping position, maintaining good oral hygiene, and using specialized pillows, you can minimize drooling and get a more restful night’s sleep. Remember that drooling during sleep is normal and manageable, and it does not need to define your sleeping experience.

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