7 Causes Why You Might Be Biting Tongue In Sleep

Biting tongue? Not very unheard of, right? Everyone has done that. Biting tongue in sleep? Now that’s something you might not have heard of very often. Even though the name doesn’t suggest it, tongue biting in sleep is quite a serious problem. Biting your tongue in sleep can put you at risk of developing mouth ulcers, tongue scallops, and infections. 

You need to consult a professional if you experience signs of tenderness, bleeding, redness, unexplained cuts, marks or ulcers, and throbbing in your tongue. Read on to know everything about biting tongue in sleep. 

What exactly is tongue biting in sleep?

If you have accidentally bitten your tongue while sleeping, it doesn’t mean that you need to seek medical attention. Look for the signs of discomfort, and if you have any, consult a doctor.

Usually, some conditions that result in tongue biting while you are asleep are bruxism, facial muscle spasms, illicit drug use, Lyme disease, nighttime seizures, and rhythmic movement disorders. Let us shed some light on each of them one by one. 

Causes of tongue biting in sleep 

  • Sleep apnea 

Sleep apnea is not a direct cause of tongue biting in sleep, but many patients with sleep apnea complain of biting their tongue when they are asleep. Sleep apnea causes tongue enlargement and abnormal muscle relaxation when the patients are asleep. 

Due to tongue enlargement and jaw clenching, patients are more prone to biting their tongue when they are unconscious and their mouth is closed. If you are experiencing signs of morning headache, excessive sleepiness during daytime, and snoring loudly at night then, you might be suffering from sleep apnea. 

  • Bruxism 

Bruxism is one of the more common causes of biting tongue in sleep. Patients who have bruxism clench, grind and gnash their teeth when they are asleep. It is also known as sleep bruxism for the same reason. 

Bruxism is sometimes accompanied by sleep apnea and results in pauses in breathing when you are sleeping. This condition mostly affects the jaw and teeth, but people with bruxism also bite their tongue and cheeks. Look for symptoms of jaw pain, flat or worn teeth, and sore mouth to know if you should seek medical care. 

  • Nighttime seizures  

People who suffer from epilepsy, involuntarily bite their tongue at night because they lose control of their body during chronic seizures. Seizures cause jerking movements and muscle tensions in the body, due to which people are prone to self-induced injuries and biting their tongue tips and sides. 

Epilepsy is not a very uncommon problem, and almost 50 million people suffer from it. Epilepsy and its symptoms are treatable with prescribed medicine. 


Biting Tongue In Sleep

  • Rhythmic movement disorder 

This condition is more common in children than adults and involves the body repeatedly, and rapidly jerking for at most 15 minutes. During an episode of rhythmic movement disorder, the person might rapidly roll, bang his head, and rock his body rapidly while producing humming sounds. 

This condition too, like others, affects people during sleep and may result in the person involuntarily biting his/her tongue apart from other injuries. This condition in adults is more serious and requires medical attention, and children usually just grow out of it.

  • Facial muscle spasms  

Facial muscle spasms or Faciomandibular Myoclonus make the chin and jaw tremble uncontrollably while sleeping which causes the person to involuntarily bite their tongue while sleeping. It’s very hard to control the jaw and facial movements while suffering from these spasms. 

This condition is more prevalent in children than adults and can be caused by an injury, not using your facial muscles enough or overexerting them, and some other underlying diseases. These spasms are usually curable with the right diagnosis and medication. 

  • Drug abuse 

Some psychoactive drugs like ecstasy, molly, or MDMA, when abused regularly, can cause very serious damage to the overall health. The serious damage caused by these drugs includes bruxism, and injuries to the tongue, teeth, and cheeks. 

These drugs give the person an extreme sense of euphoria and make even the pain of tongue biting pleasurable because the person feels an unusual desire to bite and chew things. There are only damaging effects of hard drugs and they may even cause death in the long run. 

  • Lyme disease 

Lyme disease is a bacterial infection that causes issues with the central nervous system (CNS), brain, and reflexes of the body that causes the person to receive mixed, unclear signals from the brain as a result of which the person experiences symptoms like abnormal sensitivities to heat, and cold, pain, and tingling sensations in the body, blurred vision, extreme fatigue, recurring diarrhoea, slurred speech, and unknowingly biting the tongue during sleep due to involuntary body movements. 

How to stop biting tongue in sleep? 

Millions of people worldwide suffer from this condition. Some people don’t even recognize for long periods what is causing these uncomfortable symptoms. You will be glad to know that almost all the causes of tongue biting in sleep are curable with the right treatment.

  • For people suffering from sleep apnea, doctors might recommend weight loss, mouth guards, nicotine addiction treatments, surgeries, and CPAP machines. Custom-fitted mouthguards are also recommended by medical professionals for bruxism. 
  • Rhythmic movement disorder in children doesn’t usually require treatment, but can be treated with proper medication in adults. Some precautions can be taken to prevent your child or any other person from hurting themselves during an episode of rhythmic movement disorder. 
  • Anti-seizure medications are prescribed to those suffering from nighttime seizures and can help in reducing the frequency and fatality of the seizures. In the long term, medications may even top the seizures completely.
  • Bruxism can be treated with cognitive-behavioural therapy, which is a kind of psychotherapy that will help the person to deal with the root cause of grinding teeth since its actual cause is unknown. 
  • Stopping the drug usage once and for all is the best treatment for tongue biting caused due to illicit drugs. But, if your systems don’t go away even after retaining from the drugs, see a doctor for the best medications and treatment. 
  • People with Lyme disease are usually prescribed antibiotics and relevant therapies to reduce the symptoms. Sticking to the medicines prescribed will give the best results for Lyme disease. 

Analyzing the symptoms will help you identify what is causing the problem of biting your tongue in sleep. There are plenty of treatments to deal with this condition in case you have it. So, don’t worry! Science has got you covered for treatment and we have got you covered for information!

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