We’ve all been there. You’re in the middle of a deep sleep when you suddenly feel a sharp pain in your mouth. You open your eyes, the room is spinning and you realise you’ve bitten your tongue while sleeping again.
Why did it just happen? While it may seem like a harmless event, it can actually be caused by some serious health complications. So, what’s the story?
To better understand this largely unknown condition, this article will explore the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for biting your tongue while sleep. By the end you’ll have all the answers you need.
The Causes of Biting Your Tongue While Sleeping
About one-third of adults bite their tongues while sleeping, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. So biting your tongue in your sleep is a fairly common occurrence. But it can be a painful experience too.
However, the cause of this phenomenon is not always clear.
In some cases, it may be due to an isolated incident, such as something you were dreaming about. But in other cases, it may be indicative of a more serious problem such as sleep apnea or bruxism. Let’s take a closer look at some of these underlying causes.
1. Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder that affects more than 18 million Americans. It is a condition in which you briefly stop breathing during sleep, sometimes dozens of times an hour. One of the most common symptoms of sleep apnea is loud snoring, but did you know that one of the lesser-known symptoms of this disorder is biting your tongue while sleeping?
Although sleep apnea is not the cause of tongue biting, it is a common symptom of the disorder.
This is due to the fact that patients with sleep apnea frequently have unusually large tongues or abnormally relaxed mouth muscles when they sleep. Tongue biting can be caused by a combination of slack muscles and a large tongue.
Bruxism is the condition involving teeth grinding and jaw clenching. It is usually a symptom of stress or anxiety, and it can cause a lot of damage to your teeth.
A lesser-known symptom of bruxism is mistakenly biting your tongue or cheeks while you sleep. But it is still unclear why some people with bruxism unconsciously bite their tongue while they sleep.
3. Facial Muscle Spasms
Most people with facial muscle spasms, also known as sleep related bruxism, will bite their tongue. The exact reason for this isn’t known, but it’s thought that the tongue muscles may tense up during a spasm and cause the person to bite their tongue.
Other muscles in the face may also contract during a spasm, which can lead to other problems such as cramped facial muscles and grinding of the teeth.
4. Nighttime Seizures
People with nighttime seizures tend to bite their tongues during the seizure.
Why this happens is still a mystery, but it may have something to do with the fact that people with epilepsy are more likely to grind their teeth at night, so tongue biting may also be a result of muscle spasms.
They may subconsciously bite down on their tongue as a result of this.
5. Rhythmic Movement Disorder
Rhythmic Movement Disorder (RMD) is a disorder characterised by an involuntary movement of a body part, most commonly the legs or arms.
RMD can also cause people to grind their teeth and/or bite their tongues during sleep. The cause of this is not yet known, but there are several theories. Some believe that tongue biting is caused by involuntary body movements themselves, while others believe that it is a response to discomfort.
6. Lyme Disease
There are many strange sleep behaviours that people with Lyme disease may experience. One of them is unconsciously biting their tongues, lips, or cheeks while they are asleep.
Lyme disease can cause a lot of inflammation and pain throughout the body, so some people may bite their tongue subconsciously as a result of involuntarily bodily reflexes.
Malocclusion, a dental disorder that causes teeth to not fit together properly, is a common problem. If left untreated, malocclusion can cause a person to experience pain in their jaw, and in more severe cases, can lead to problems with speech and eating.
A lesser-known complication of malocclusion is that people with the disorder have been known to bite their tongues while sleeping. Some experts believe that the misaligned jaw places unnecessary pressure on the tongue while it’s in a relaxed state, leading to compression and eventual biting.
8. Use of Recreational Drugs
There are many hypotheses out there to answer this question but no one really knows for sure. One theory is that people who have a habit of using drugs chew their tongue unconsciously in their sleep as a way to cope with anxiety and withdrawal symptoms.
Symptoms Of Biting Your Tongue While Sleeping
Biting your tongue in your sleep is not only incredibly painful but it can also indicate a more serious health condition, so finding out whether you do it is important.
The most common symptom of biting your tongue while sleeping is blood on your sheets or pillow and in your mouth when you wake up.
However, there are several other symptoms that you should be aware of including, but not limited to:
- Swelling of the tongue
- Ulcer on the tongue
- Pain in your jaw
- Popping noises from your jaw
- Persistent headaches
How Can You Prevent Yourself From Biting Your Tongue While Sleeping?
There are a few techniques that you can use to prevent yourself from biting your tongue while sleeping.
During the day keep yourself hydrated by drinking plenty of water. This will help keep your mouth moist and reduce the amount of saliva that builds up. You can also try sucking on ice chips or hard candy to relieve tension and keep your mouth moist. Another technique is to relax your jaw muscles by chewing gum or yawning periodically.
There are a few other things you can do to help prevent yourself from biting your tongue while sleeping. One is to try to keep your tongue relaxed when you are sleeping. This will help prevent you from biting it accidentally. Finally, you can try to wear a mouthguard while you are sleeping. This will help protect your tongue from being bitten.
If none of these work, it might be a result of a serious underlying issue. We suggest that you consult a doctor at the earliest.
Using a Night Mouth Guard to Protect Your Tongue While Sleeping
A night mouth guard is a dental appliance that is worn while sleeping to protect your teeth and tongue from being injured. A night mouth guard can also help to prevent snoring and teeth grinding.
There are two types of night mouth guards: the custom-made mouth guard and the over-the-counter mouth guard. A custom-made night mouth guard is made specifically for an individual’s teeth and will provide the best fit and protection. An over-the-counter night mouth guard is a less expensive option, but it will not fit as well and may not provide as much protection.
If you are prone to biting your tongue while sleeping, a night mouth guard may be the solution for you. It can help to prevent pain and swelling, and it may even help to prevent tooth damage.
How to Quickly Heal a Cut on the Tongue
Cuts on the tongue are common and can happen quite easily. They often result in pain, bleeding, and swelling. In most cases, a cut on the tongue will heal on its own within a few days.
However, there are some things that you can do to help speed up the healing process and make the experience more comfortable.
- If it’s not an open wound, rinse your mouth with warm salt water immediately after cutting your tongue. This will help clean the wound and reduce the risk of infection.
- If it’s an open wound, rinse your mouth out with cold water. This will help to stop the bleeding and clean the wound. You should also avoid eating or drinking anything for at least half an hour so that the cut can heal properly.
- Apply a cold compress to the area for about 10 minutes, four times a day. This will help reduce swelling and pain.
- Take ibuprofen if you are experiencing pain.
- Avoid eating solid foods until the cut has healed.
Our Final Thoughts: Biting Your Tongue While Sleeping
In this article, we discussed why you might be biting your tongue while sleeping and how you can prevent that.
If you are experiencing this problem, be sure to check out our tips to help you get a good night’s sleep. And if you’ve been biting your tongue on a regular basis, we recommend seeing a doctor as soon as possible.
Thanks for reading.