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What is the Connection Between Dry Mouth and Sleep?

Nicole Madison
Updated May 17, 2024
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There are a wide variety of things that may contribute to the development of dry mouth. When a person develops dry mouth after sleeping, however, the causes may be easier to pinpoint. For example, an individual who has a condition like sleep apnea, which causes him to keep his mouth open for much of the night, may wake up with a dry mouth. It may also result from the lack of liquid consumption during the night, sleeping in a heated room that doesn’t have much moisture in the air, or even the use of certain medications right before bed.

Sleep apnea is a condition that may contribute to dry mouth while a person is asleep. When a person has sleep apnea, his breathing pauses and then restarts repeatedly throughout the night. Often, a person with this condition snores and snorts a good deal as well. A person with this condition will often have a dry mouth because his mouth may remain open as he snores and experiences breathing changes during the night.

Sometimes, dry mouth and sleep are related because a person becomes slightly dehydrated at night. For example, many people stop drinking fluids soon after eating dinner at night and then sleep for eight hours or more. Some people experience dry mouth at night because of this lack of fluids, and it may be even worse when a person takes medication at night. For example, some sleep aids and allergy or cold medicines may cause dehydration as well.

In some cases, a person may develop dry mouth because he is resting in a heated room. The heat may reduce the humidity level and cause a person’s mouth to feel dry when he wakes up. In fact, many people feel thirsty immediately upon waking up because of this.

If a person notices that he has a dry mouth after sleeping, he may take steps to relieve it. Treating sleep apnea may help, and in some cases, a person may experience relief if he drinks more water during the day and makes sure he gets at least some fluids between dinner and bedtime. Some people may also adjust the heat in their bedrooms or use a humidifier to add moisture to the air. Changing medications may help as well.

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Nicole Madison
By Nicole Madison , Writer
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a WiseGeek writer, where she focuses on topics like homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. Her passion for knowledge is evident in the well-researched and informative articles she authors. As a mother of four, Nicole balances work with quality family time activities such as reading, camping, and beach trips.

Discussion Comments

By anon290038 — On Sep 07, 2012

Also for a sore throat try an air humidifier and nasal spray at night.

By orangey03 — On Dec 19, 2011

I noticed last winter that my nose had become very dry and congested. The heat kept coming on a lot, and my bedroom seemed to be the warmest one in the house. Because of this, I often had to breathe through my mouth to get enough air.

I got a humidifier, and I noticed a big improvement in my nose. The humidifier keeps moisture in the air, so my nasal passages don’t dry out. When they are moist, it is so much easier to breathe through them.

I simply fill the tank with water, plug it in, and turn it on. It has two settings, and I usually use the lowest one, because this makes the water last through the night. I haven’t had dry mouth since I started using it.

By StarJo — On Dec 18, 2011

@wavy58 - Chances are, if you have noticed loud snorting and a dry mouth, he probably does have sleep apnea. This condition can be dangerous, because people can stop breathing altogether during sleep and die.

My dad has sleep apnea, and my mom made him go to a sleep center for help. He had to spend the night there with monitors attached to his body.

He simply could not fall asleep like this, though he tried. So, they could not accurately diagnose him.

There is some sort of mask that people with sleep apnea can wear for treatment, but my dad doesn’t think he would be able to sleep with it on. However, since your husband sounds like he is a deep sleeper, he could probably tolerate the mask.

By wavy58 — On Dec 18, 2011

I’m afraid that my husband may have sleep apnea. He has gained forty pounds in the last two years, and he has begun snoring.

He often wakes himself up during a loud snort. Then, he goes and gets a drink of water. He doesn’t even remember it the next day, but I notice.

I haven’t actually observed him not breathing during the night, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. I’m usually too sleepy to notice much, but I can tell when he leaves the bed and runs the faucet to get some water.

How do I tell if he has sleep apnea? Should he go to a doctor?

By shell4life — On Dec 17, 2011

I suffer from chronic allergies, so I wind up with a dry mouth at night. At some point during the night, my nose becomes congested, and I start dreaming that I am drowning. I wake up and realize that I need to breathe through my mouth, because I absolutely cannot use my nose.

It becomes hard to swallow because of this. I wake up more frequently and have to sip water throughout the night. This makes me need to get up and urinate, which also keeps me from sleeping for long periods.

Even if I take allergy medication, it only lasts about four hours. I can usually breathe through my nose during that time, but I always wake up as soon as it wears off, unable to use my nose. When this happens, I start breathing through my mouth, and I know I won’t sleep very well.

By ElizaBennett — On Dec 17, 2011

Let me start out by saying that I have no medical knowledge of this, but I discovered something that really helps me minimize dry mouth when I have a cold. It used to be that I would wake up with a terrible sore throat, because I would be stuffy and breathing through my mouth all night long.

Well, during my last pregnancy, I was sleeping propped up on two pillows because I had bad heartburn. Sleeping in an elevated position helps make the acid flow down your throat better.

Well, I got a cold as well (lucky me). But something about sleeping on two pillows really helped! Maybe it helped the mucus drain down my throat instead of clogging me up so that I wasn't breathing through my mouth so much, but at any rate, my throat wasn't as sore. I always sleep on two pillows now when I have a cold, and it makes a lot of difference in reducing dry mouth.

Nicole Madison

Nicole Madison


Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a WiseGeek writer, where she focuses on topics like...
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