Waking up in the middle of the night with a dry mouth is an unpleasant feeling. At times, your mouth and throat can feel so dry that is painful to even swallow or open and close your mouth. Determining the cause of dry mouth can help you find an appropriate treatment.
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Nighttime dry mouth usually occurs if you sleep with your mouth open and breathe through your mouth rather than your nose. Nasal congestion, sleep apnea, a cold or other respiratory illness can cause you to breathe through your mouth. When you breathe through your mouth for hours at a time, saliva in your mouth begins to dry out, causing that uncomfortable dry mouth sensation.
Sleep Apnea Signs
Sleep apnea occurs when you stop breathing for 10 seconds or more multiple times throughout the night. Sleep apnea is usually accompanied by loud snoring and snorting as you struggle to breathe. HelpGuide.org reports that sleep apnea can cause sleep deprivation that can cause daytime sleepiness, poor concentration, increased risk of accidents and slow reflexes. You may also increase your risk of developing heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure or diabetes if you have untreated sleep apnea.
When your nasal passages swell and fill with mucus, there is no choice but to breathe through your mouth. While illnesses can cause the problem, it may also occur if you suffer from allergies or have a deviated septum. A deviated septum occurs when the wall that separates your nostrils isn’t located exactly in the middle of your nose. When this happens, one nostril is smaller than your other, which restricts air flow to that nostril.
It can be difficult to determine the cause of your problem since it occurs while you are sleeping. Ask a family member to observe you when you are sleeping or videotape yourself sleeping. You may be shocked to discover that you have the symptoms of sleep apnea.
If dry mouth during the night continues and you haven’t been ill, your doctor may be able to prescribe a treatment. If allergies are causing nasal congestion, taking an allergy medication that contains decongestants and antihistamines can help reduce congestion. MayoClinic.com cautions against using an oral or spray decongestant for more than three days in a row for acute congestion unless directed by your doctor, because long-term use can actually worsen congestion. Decongestants and antihistamines can also help keep nasal passages clear if you have a deviated septum. In severe cases, you may need surgery to repair your deviated septum.
Using a continuous positive airflow pressure, or CPAP, machine while you sleep can help regulate your breathing and reduce mouth breathing if you have sleep apnea. The CPAP mask covers your nose and mouth and forces a steady flow of air into your airways, keeping them open while you sleep.