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What Causes Extremely Dry Mouth While Sleeping And How to Prevent It

What Causes Extremely Dry Mouth While Sleeping And How to Prevent It

Do you wake up in the morning with an uncomfortable dry feeling in your mouth? Do you often feel thirsty or find yourself waking up for a drink of water during the night? If so, you may be suffering from dry mouth.

Dry mouth while sleeping is a common condition that has many causes. Fortunately, there are ways to prevent dry mouth and help you have a more restful sleep. We’ll explain what causes dry mouth while sleeping so you can take preventive measures against it.

Dry Mouth At Night

Dry mouth syndrome is a medical condition characterized by a lack of saliva production. Our salivary glands naturally produce less saliva at night, and we naturally breathe more frequently at night, but some people can experience reduced saliva to a point that it causes discomfort when sleeping. Dry mouth can make breathing difficult and interfere with quality sleep. In some cases, it can also lead to dental problems such as tooth decay and gum disease.

Dry Mouth Symptoms

The most obvious symptom of dry mouth is waking up with an uncomfortable, dry feeling in your mouth, but there are many other symptoms can be caused by dry mouth:

  • chapped lips
  • bad breath
  • sore throat
  • thick, stringy saliva
  • frequent waking at night/poor sleep
  • hoarseness
  • bad taste in your mouth
  • yeast infection in the mouth (thrush)

Causes of Dry Mouth While Sleeping

Many biological and environmental factors can contribute to dry mouth at night, from health conditions to what we eat and drink throughout the day. Understanding what is causing your dry mouth at night is the first step to preventing it.


Did you know that almost 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated? 50-60% of our body is made up of water, yet most of us don’t consume enough water throughout the day to stay properly hydrated. If you find that you’re suffering from dry mouth, start by drinking plenty of water throughout the day. You should aim to drink half your body weight in ounces per day. For example, a 150 lb. adult should consume at least 75 oz. of water each day. If you spend a lot of time in the heat or are very active throughout the day, you may need more than this to stay properly hydrated.

Mouth Breathing

Mouth breathing is an oral health condition in which individuals breathe through their mouth instead of their nose. It can be caused by stress, a deviated septum, obstructive sleep apnea, and other conditions. If you suffer from mouth breathing, our dental team can help you find a solution that works for you.


As we age, our bodies naturally produce less saliva, so older individuals may experience dry mouth more frequently. Hormonal changes that happen during menopause may also contribute to dry mouth in women.


Dry mouth is a common side effect of many medications. It can be caused by:

  • antidepressants
  • blood pressure medications
  • over-the-counter medications
  • pain medications
  • antihistamines
  • decongestants
  • muscle relaxers
  • diuretics

Sometimes, this is a temporary side effect. Other times, the symptom will not go away until you stop taking the medication.

Temporary Illness

If you have a cold or suffer from seasonal allergies, you may experience temporary dry mouth due to congested nasal passages. Additionally, if you have an illness that causes vomiting and you are having difficulty keeping fluids down, this can lead to dehydration and dry mouth. In either case, this is usually a temporary situation. You can help keep your mouth moist by keeping a glass of water by your bed in case you wake up thirsty.

Chronic Illness

Several chronic illnesses, including certain cancers, diabetes, and autoimmune diseases, can contribute to dry mouth. Treatments for these conditions (like radiation treatment for cancer) can also cause dry mouth.) If you suffer from any of these conditions, you can speak with your doctor about creating a treatment plan to address side effects.

Certain Foods and Drinks

Our nutrition plays a significant role in our oral health and overall wellness. What we eat and drink throughout the day can affect our saliva production. Salty foods, acidic foods, excessive caffeine consumption, and overall poor nutrition are all contributors to dry mouth. Limit your sodium intake, and try to balance your daily caffeine intake with plenty of water.

Acidic Oral pH

Did you know that what we eat and drink can change the pH of our saliva? Healthy saliva should have a neutral pH of about 7. Saliva that is consistently acidic can have a negative affect on your oral health, including contributing to dry mouth, plaque growth, and gingivitis. You can test the pH of your saliva with simple test strips. If you find that yours is consistently acidic, contact us to discuss treatment options, including dietary changes.


Most of us know how unhealthy cigarettes are. They can wreak havoc on your body in a number of ways, and dry mouth is just one of the many unpleasant side effects that come with cigarette use. Recreational drugs like marijuana also dry out our nasal passages and oral cavities. If you smoke or use drugs, talk with your doctor about ways to stop safely.

Alcohol Use

Alcohol is another substance that can cause many health concerns, from dehydration to liver problems and more. If you choose to drink, try to have at least one glass of water for every alcoholic drink you consume. If you have a habit of relaxing with a drink before bed at night, try replacing this habit with a healthier alternative, such as a few moments of quiet reading or meditation. Alcohol before bed can dry out your mouth and cause sleep disruptions.

Is dry mouth a sign of pregnancy?

Yes, dry mouth is a common symptom of pregnancy. Pregnant women need to significantly increase their water intake because they use more water than normal while the baby develops.

Can dry mouth be caused by anxiety?

Yes, dry mouth can be a side effect of anxiety. Anxiety can cause mouth breathing, which drys out the oral cavities. Additionally, certain anti-anxiety medications can make dry mouth worse.

How to Prevent Dry Mouth While Sleeping

Once you can pinpoint where your dry mouth is coming from, you can make some lifestyle changes to help correct the problem and get back to sleeping well at night.

Stay Hydrated!

The importance of proper hydration cannot be overstated. All of the systems in our body need adequate hydration in order to work properly. If you struggle to get enough water throughout the day, try some of these tips to help:

  • Try to have one glass of water with each meal and snack.
  • Set an alarm on your phone to remind yourself to drink water throughout the day.
  • Treat yourself to a “smart” water bottle that will sync with your phone and send you automatic reminders to stay hydrated.
  • Make it easy on yourself. Keep water bottles in the refrigerator or pre-fill your large water bottle at night so you can grab it on your way out the door in the mornings.
  • If you don’t like the taste of plain, still water, try flavored sparkling water or zero-calorie water infusion drops.
  • Create a habit of making sure alcohol or caffeine and water go hand-in-hand. For every cup of coffee you have or alcoholic beverage you consume, drink a glass of water before having another drink. Pretty soon, you’ll do it without even thinking about it.

Choose Healthy Habits

  • Quit smoking: Smoking is incredibly unhealthy. If you struggle to quit on your own, talk to your doctor about help with quitting.
  • Don’t over-consume alcohol: Limit your alcohol intake, and try to have a glass of water with each unit of alcohol you consume.
  • Limit caffeine intake: Try not to consume over 400 mg of caffeine per day, and if you are especially sensitive to caffeine, cut this number in half. An average cup of coffee has 80-100 mg of caffeine, while an energy drink can contain up to 300 mg. Caffeinated soda contains 30-40 mg of caffeine.

Discuss Your Medications With Your Doctor

If you take medication to manage chronic health conditions, talk to your doctor about any side effects you are experiencing, including long-term dry mouth. Sometimes, your doctor may be able to offer an alternative medication or a lower dose to help reduce side effects.

Talk to Your Dentist About Mouth Breathing

If you struggle with mouth breathing because of obstructive sleep apnea or other reasons, contact us to discuss treatment options that can help reduce nighttime mouth breathing.

Test Your Oral pH To Keep Your Mouth Healthy

Dry mouth can have a significant impact on your oral hygiene, can increase your risk of tooth decay and other dental issues, and can have a serious impact on your quality of life. At Holistic Dental Center of New Jersey, we are committed to improving your overall health with everything we do. If you are suffering from dry mouth or if it’s been awhile since your last oral health assessment, contact us today to schedule an appointment.


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