Stop Tongue Biting When Sleeping – Reasons It Happens and How to Find Relief

Tongue biting when sleeping is reasonable if it happens once in a while, but if you are prone to it happening every night, then you may have an underlying problem.

Why Tongue Biting When Sleeping Happens

There are several reasons why a person may be tongue biting when they are sleeping; the frequent reasons are listed below:


Some of us suffer from sleep anxiety. This is when we think about thoughts that have piled up during the day. Most times, we can’t really do anything about our thoughts, so they keep disrupting our sleep.

Even during sleep, we deal with subconscious thinking; this then leads us to bite our tongue when we are sleeping. At all times, we are dealing with stressful situations that might not be our making, but for reasons known only to an individual, these situations follow us into the night.

As some of you may know, chewing is a natural reaction to anxiety-inducing moments. Be it food, nails, or inanimate objects. I remember I used to chew my pencil in school when I was stumped on a problem. Tongue biting when sleeping takes place when a person is trying to think their way out of an anxious situation.

But this happens without us knowing, only to wake up with a sore tongue. 

Teeth Grinding

During sleep, our brain starts to go into a state of relaxation. Thus all our muscles begin to relax. Our jaw is completely relaxed as well, causing it to swell to double its size. This obstructs our breathing airway.

When this happens, we start to grind our teeth during sleep. Essentially grinding is often a response to saving our lives at night, but then there are repercussions.

One of them being us biting our tongue. During the grinding of your teeth, your tongue, which is also relaxed, may get in between, and that’s when the biting to the tongue happens.

Nocturnal Seizures

Individuals who have seizures at night will also bite their tongue. The biting of the time happens without conscious thinking. Usually, these people will bite the edges of their tongue. When a person is having a seizure, they lose consciousness, tiny movements can be seen, but their muscles go stiff.

Tongue biting is a common occurrence among people who suffer seizures during sleep. The involuntary jerk of the body can cause loss of control. It’s during the loss of control that a person unconsciously bites their tongue.

Rhythmic Movement Disordernocturnal seizure

Rhythmic movement disorder usually involves the banging of the head or rocking and rolling. This disorder is pervasive among young children. Often, injuries during this time are minimal, but when the tongue is bitten, it can lead to disastrous results.

This disorder usually lasts for about 15 minutes. It’s neurologically based and involves repeated movements of our head and neck. It often goes unnoticed, unless the person experiencing the disorder notices any injuries on their tongue. Injuries can be prevented when you have a good memory foam pillow which will keep movements to minimal.

What Happens to Your Tongue When You Bite It

Most times, when people bite their time, it’s usually the lateral side of the tongue which is affected. Sometimes bleeding may occur. The tongue is generally left with cuts which sting when we are eating hot food.

Some people can also get tongue ulcers; these usually heal within ten days. The tongue becomes uncomfortable with little sores, which can get in the way of getting a good sleep at night.

Anxiety often arises just before sleep because the person who bites their time is on high alert. Because they are so alert, it makes it harder for them to fall asleep. Eventually, when they do fall asleep, the tongue biting starts.

How To Find Relief From Tongue Biting When Sleeping

Get a Good Mouthguard

If teeth grinding is an issue for you, then getting a good mouthguard seems like the optimal way to stop biting your tongue at night. Most dentists and hygienists will tell their patients to wear a mouthguard at night. You won’t have to wear the mouthguard for your whole life, only until you can break the habit of biting your tongue at night.

Most guards are usually used for many reasons. Some of the common reasons are:

  • grinding teeth at night
  • protect athletes mouth during sports play
  • protecting teeth during eating disorders
  • bruxism

You will need to give your mouth some time to get used to wearing the mouthguard at night. A good mouthguard will most likely help you to relieve the tissue trauma to your tongue.

Reduce Anxiety

To reduce anxiety at night, you need to have some routines in place. Look over my post on EFT tapping therapy for sleep. It may help you to resolve some issues before going to sleep, whereas you’ll be trying to fix them during sleep. Which is hazardous to your tongue.

Another great thing which my sister really swears by is weighted blankets. Weighted blankets are not only suitable for insomnia or restless leg syndrome, but they can also be used to relieve anxiety.

Treating Tongue Damage

When you have experienced any type of damage to your tongue, there are some steps you can take to start healing. One of the healing methods that I think works really well gargling with salt water. The salt will kill the bacteria and aid the tongue to heal. Remember, the water will need to be warm with a ½ teaspoon of salt. Don’t use hot water as it will cause discomfort to your tongue.

Avoid eating spicy food until your tongue has completely healed. The spicy food will cause stinging where the cuts on your tongue are, another anxiety-inducing incident. Dental night guards are going to be useful to you when treating tongue damage.

Some Final Words On Tongue Biting When Sleeping 

Tongue biting is often a condition that leaves many people frustrated and unable to sleep. Almost all of us have bitten our tongue at one point or another – be it accidentally, when we are eating or when we are sleeping. The first two we can usually consciously avoid, biting our tongue during sleep is not so easy to avoid.

Nighttime tongue biting can be a hard habit to break. But it can be broken as long as you are ready to stop biting your tongue. If you’re going to be using a mouthguard, then remember it will take at least 21 days to develop a habit. Some people give up and continue to wonder why their tongue isn’t healing.

FYI: millions of people around the world bite their tongue during sleep. Some are aware others may not be. But if you’re waking up with tongue sores, then you definitely have a night tongue biting problem. The best thing you can do is deal with it before the tongue biting leaves your tongue full of blisters and ulcers.

Share in comments below how you prevent from biting your tongue at night.

12 thoughts on “Stop Tongue Biting When Sleeping – Reasons It Happens and How to Find Relief”

  1. My little sister does this but it is not something that she does frequently. I feel like it is very nice that you can point this out because you very well know all about the topic. May I should get her the mouthguard you spoke about here. I guess that is what is used by boxers in the ring. It should help her learn to spot biting at the long run as you have said. Thanks

    • She won’t have to wear it for long, just enough to stop the habit. 

  2. Wow!  I didn’t even know this was an issue.  I bite my tongue and sometimes the inside of my cheek when I eat sometimes but, I can’t say that it has happened when I sleep.

    Stress and anxiety!  They seem to be the cause of more and more problems these days.  From headaches to heart attacks and other issues.  And, it seems that we can’t avoid them for the most part.  Our world is just so hardwired to succeed and get ahead that we don’t take enough time to wind down and relax so we end up stressed out and worried more than we should.

    I know a couple of people that suffer from sleep apnea so I’m wondering if they have this problem?  I’m going to have to find a way to ask them and if so, I will pass this information on to them.

    Thanks. I really mean it, I think my family members will really benefit from these solutions.


    • Great that you found this helpful. Thanks for sharing this article. 

  3. hello jagi.
    happy to read your post.
    I have a similar problem, I grind my teeth all day long, at work like at home; and that irritates my companion and certain friends by the noise that it makes. I had never thought to consult for that since I did not bite the tongue so for me it was not very serious. I will try the solution of the mouthguard. big thanks.

    • Mouthguards are great for getting a night of better sleep at night. 

  4. Hello jagi, I do not know so much about tongue biting or anything related to that but I know that it can hurt a lot when a person has something like that and then there are some cute on the tongue. The pain might even get aggravated when they are eating foods that are full of pepper. Your post is nice with good information. I should want to share this, I am sure a couple of people out there will find it helpful. Thanks.

  5. Thanks for this great article about tongue biting, yeah I started biting my tongue since when I was a kid and till now, some people say its a bad habit but I don’t think it is i usually feel relieved when doing it maybe because am addicted but I wanna ask about the mouth guide does it have any one we can use during the day also or its only night mouth guide?thanks 

    • You can use the mouthgaurd whenever you are napping. 

  6. I bite my tongue sometimes when I’m taking an afternoon nap, I hate it when it happens because the pain is usually sharp and sudden. I think anxiety is probably the biggest reason for it, when I’m lying down and trying to nap a lot of worries fill my mind and I struggle to quiet the brain, and I guess tongue biting is the body’s way of dealing with these types of thoughts. I think a mouth guard could definitely help, but I’m not tongue biting that often so maybe I’ll wait and see if it gets worse before getting it.

    • Mouthguard will help for sure. Anxiety can cause many things to go wrong. 


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