Yawn. Sleep. The golden chalice of a good night’s rest becomes more elusive as we get older. Still sleeping like a baby? Doubtful. North Americans, researchers say, are chronically underslept and pay a heavy price in poor health. If you have great sleeps, you’re one of the lucky ones. Even so, did you know that while your trying to catch the right number of ‘zzz’ or flipping and flopping and staring at the ceiling, your mouth goes about its own nightly ritual of drying out?
Why does the mouth get dry at night? And why does it matter?
Well, several factors, including a lack of moisture, as we in fact “fast” through the night. We break that fast in the morning; some of us with water, some not. But the best thing you could do for your mouth and health on waking is to drink a tall glass of warm water. I drink around 2 pints of warm water on waking. Some holistic practitioners recommend hydrotherapy of 2 litres of fresh water in one sitting for healing all sorts of complaints. (It’s an interesting area but a bit outside the scope of this article.)
Moisture is really one of the most important though simple health ideas that gets overlooked. We forget we are mostly made of water. Dry mouth happens when the salivary glands don’t make enough saliva to keep tissues moist. Saliva has a big role in your health and has many protective properties we simply take for granted, like combating acids and bacteria that cause tooth decay and halitosis. Without water, your body will have trouble keeping the mouth moist, which then interferes with the important role of saliva in keeping your mouth healthy. If you breathe through your mouth as you sleep, your dry mouth issues could reach Sahara-like proportions. Mouth breathing is one of the biggest reasons for dry mouth at night.
Some symptoms of nightly dry mouth include:
- Waking to drink water with great thirst (like you’re topping up your tank)
- Dry lips and sore, dry throat in the morning
- Thick or foamy saliva on waking
- Sore throat that goes on for days
- Bad breath or chronic halitosis
Other causes of dry mouth:
- Orthodontics and appliances
- Sleep apnea masks
- Snoring, due to blockages and deviated septum
- Sleeping medications
Remedies for nightly dry mouth:
- Use a humidifier
- Try nasal strips
- Acidic or spicy foods can irritate delicate mouths. Avoid before bed
- Caffeine and alcohol dry you out; avoid these before bed
- Tobacco dries you out, too. Quit (or cut back on) tobacco use
- Brush. Brushing twice per day and flossing is key to a healthy mouth
- Drink water when you’re thirsty and on waking
- Try mint tea in the morning and at night
These can relieve the symptoms of nightly and chronic dry mouth. Many people who suffer from dry mouth find saliva substitutes and stimulants give them more complete relief. Saliva substitutes include water in sufficient quantity, artificial saliva, oils, or a scientifically formulated mouthwash, like the one we’ve developed with Nicorinse.
Here’s wishing you a better night’s rest – and better moisture!