Why Do I Bite My Tongue When I Sleep? Causes and Solutions

why do i bite my tongue when i sleep

Ugh — there’s nothing worse than accidentally biting your tongue when talking or greedy eating. The sharp pain is often unbearable, probably because it comes so suddenly. Plus, the entire experience leaves you feeling extremely annoyed. What in the world is going on with your reflexes?

But what about unconscious tongue-biting — is that even a thing? You might be surprised how often it can happen in your sleep. In case you’re wondering: “Why do I bite my tongue when I sleep?” stick around. You’re also about to find out what causes it and how you can best treat it.

Why Do I Bite My Tongue When I Sleep? 3 Reasons


1. Teeth Malocclusion

Rarely anyone has a perfect bite, but some people’s teeth are so misaligned that they cause further problems. Malocclusion, the term for teeth misalignment, can leave you seeking cosmetic surgery to treat your crooked teeth. But it can also negatively affect the way you speak and eat. Together with TMJ, this deformity in your jaw can make you bite the inside of your mouth while you sleep.

2. Teeth Grinding

Do you think you might be suffering from bruxism — the need to gnash your teeth all the time? Like guinea pigs, people do this when they’re annoyed, angry, or stressed out. But apart from a psychological cause, bruxism can also be a merely physical problem. If you grind your teeth during sleep, the risk of biting your tongue will be higher due to the lack of awareness and control.

3. Sleep Apnea and Nighttime Seizures

Sleep apnea is a disorder that disrupts your breathing during sleep. One of its most common and least serious symptoms is snoring, but tongue-biting happens, too. Also, if you happen to suffer from epilepsy or have other nighttime seizures, you might be biting your tongue even more frequently. Again, this stems from you lacking control over your body when unconscious.

What Does Biting My Tongue Symbolize?

As we’ve already pointed out, biting your tongue either asleep or awake can mean many different things. For starters, you might be lacking jaw coordination due to talking fast or body control when dozing off. But tongue-biting, especially if it happens unconsciously, can also be a sign of your psychological struggles. That’s when your suppressed anger and other negative emotions might be coming to the surface.

Again, with certain people, tongue-biting can result from physical issues. So, to see what this kind of a problem represents, you might want to dive deeper into its cause. Only then will you be able to understand what it means, why it happens, and how you can treat it.

Is Biting Your Tongue a Disorder?

When habitual and awake, biting your tongue can fall under body-focused repetitive behaviors. More precisely, it counts as an instance of dermatophagia or skin eating. That’s exactly what you might be doing with your lips, cheeks, or cuticles.

On the other hand, considering tongue-biting a disorder would mean blaming it all on the symptom. That’s because conscious instances of biting your tongue rarely happen on their own. For that reason, such an issue should be viewed only as a symptom, not a disease.

How to Stop Biting Your Tongue in Your Sleep

Even determining that you have nighttime tongue-biting issues isn’t easy. That’s because you don’t do it consciously to remember it, and you might not even feel any pain whatsoever on waking up. Still, the first thing to do before planning your treatment is to consider the symptoms. More often than not, they include:

• tongue redness or swelling
• bleeding from the tongue
• sore tongue
• cuts on the tongue
• mouth ulcers

Once you’ve made sure you have problems with biting your tongue, it’s time to prevent this from happening again. First, address the symptoms before you develop an infection. Then, you’ll be able to deal with the possible causes. For example, wearing a mouthguard might help you protect your tongue from your teeth at night.

In case mental struggles lie at the core of your tongue-biting habit, you might need to reduce your stress. Steer clear from worrying situations during the daytime to ensure better sleep. Also, antiseizure medications might be able to give you the desired results.

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