Dental HealthHealth Disorder

Why Do I Bite My Tongue When I Sleep?

Sleep is a vital part of our daily routine, allowing our bodies and minds to rest and rejuvenate. However, for some individuals, sleep can be disrupted by various factors, including the habit of biting tongue during sleep.

If you find yourself waking up with a bitten tongue and wondering, “Why do I bite my tongue when I sleep?” this article aims to provide you with insights into this phenomenon. We will explore the possible causes, related medical conditions, and potential remedies to help you understand and address this issue effectively.

Bite Tongue When Sleep

Tongue Biting During Sleep

Tongue biting during sleep refers to the unintentional act of biting down on the tongue while in a state of unconsciousness. This phenomenon can occur for various reasons, and it can be a perplexing and painful experience.

Many individuals who suffer from tongue biting during sleep are often unaware of the underlying causes and potential solutions. By gaining a deeper understanding of this issue, you can take the necessary steps to mitigate its occurrence and improve your sleep quality.

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Causes of Biting Tongue in Sleep

Biting the tongue during sleep can be caused by several factors. Here are some possible reasons:

Unconscious Jaw Movements

One of the primary causes of tongue biting during sleep is unconscious jaw movements. When we sleep, our muscles relax, including those in the jaw.

In some cases, this relaxation can lead to the tongue slipping backward into the mouth, making it more prone to getting caught between the teeth and causing accidental biting.

Sleep Bruxism

Sleep bruxism, a condition characterized by the grinding or clenching of teeth during sleep, can contribute to tongue biting.

The forceful movements associated with sleep bruxism can cause the tongue to inadvertently get caught between the teeth, resulting in tongue injuries.

Sleep Disorders

Certain sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, and periodic limb movement disorder, can lead to tongue biting during sleep. These conditions disrupt the normal sleep cycle and can cause unintentional movements, including tongue biting.

Stress and Anxiety

Emotional factors like stress and anxiety can manifest during sleep as teeth grinding and tongue biting. These unconscious behaviors often arise as a result of increased muscle tension and heightened arousal levels.

Medical Conditions Associated with Tongue Biting

While tongue biting during sleep can be a standalone issue, it can also be a symptom or side effect of certain medical conditions. It’s essential to consider these underlying conditions to effectively address the problem:

  • Epilepsy: Individuals with epilepsy may experience seizures during sleep, which can lead to involuntary tongue biting. Seizures can cause repetitive and uncontrolled movements, including biting down on the tongue.
  • Sleep-Related Movement Disorders: Conditions such as sleep-related eating disorder and sleep-related rhythmic movement disorder can cause unintentional tongue biting during sleep. These disorders involve repetitive movements, often involving the mouth and tongue.
  • Medication Side Effects: Certain medications, such as antipsychotics and antiepileptic drugs, can cause sleep-related movement disorders and increase the likelihood of tongue biting.

How to Prevent Tongue Biting During Sleep

If you frequently bite your tongue during sleep, there are several measures you can take to minimize the occurrence of this issue. Here are some practical tips and techniques:

  • Protective Mouthguards: Wearing a mouthguard specifically designed for sleep can help create a barrier between your teeth and tongue, reducing the likelihood of tongue biting. Consult with your dentist to obtain a custom-fit mouthguard for optimal comfort and protection.
  • Correct Malocclusion: Malocclusion, or misalignment of the teeth and jaws, can contribute to tongue biting during sleep. When the teeth do not fit together properly, it can lead to accidental biting of the tongue. Correcting malocclusion can help alleviate this issue and prevent tongue injuries.
  • Stress Reduction Techniques: Since stress and anxiety can contribute to unconscious tongue biting, practicing stress reduction techniques can be beneficial. Engage in activities like meditation, deep breathing exercises, or yoga to help relax your mind and body before bedtime.
  • Sleep Position: Sleeping on your side instead of your back can minimize the chances of tongue biting. Consider using pillows or positional aids to encourage a side-sleeping position throughout the night.
  • Avoid Stimulants: Reduce your consumption of stimulants like caffeine and nicotine, especially before bedtime. These substances can disrupt sleep patterns and increase muscle tension, potentially exacerbating tongue biting.
  • Stay hydrated: Dehydration can lead to dryness in the mouth, making tongue biting more likely. Drink an adequate amount of water throughout the day to keep your mouth moisturized.

Read Also: 10 signs that tell you that you have GAD

The Impact of Tongue Biting on Oral Health

Tongue biting can have various implications on your oral health. Frequent tongue biting can result in:

  • Pain and Discomfort: Biting your tongue can cause immediate pain and discomfort, making it difficult to eat, speak, or engage in regular activities.
  • Inflammation and Swelling: Repetitive biting can lead to inflammation and swelling of the tongue, which can further aggravate the pain and discomfort.
  • Open Sores and Infections: Severe or repetitive tongue biting may result in open sores or wounds, creating a potential entry point for bacteria and increasing the risk of infections.

If you experience persistent pain, swelling, or signs of infection due to tongue biting, it is crucial to seek professional dental care for proper evaluation and treatment.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Will a mouthguard completely prevent tongue biting?

A mouthguard can significantly reduce the risk of tongue biting, but it may not completely eliminate the possibility. However, it provides a protective barrier that can minimize the severity of injuries.

Can tongue biting during sleep lead to serious injuries?

While tongue biting itself can cause pain and discomfort, severe cases may lead to more significant injuries, such as deep cuts or infections. It’s important to address the issue to prevent any potential complications.

How do you know if you bite your tongue?

If you bite your tongue, you will typically experience immediate pain and may notice swelling or bleeding in the affected area.


Biting the tongue during sleep can be a distressing experience, causing discomfort and disrupting our sleep quality. However, there are effective strategies available to address this issue and improve our overall well-being. By understanding the underlying causes and exploring appropriate solutions, individuals can take proactive steps to minimize tongue biting during sleep.