If you're confiding in a friend about sleep problems, the conversation might turn to topics like not getting enough rest or tossing and turning at night. But what about things your body does during sleep - like drooling, snoring, bedwetting, or passing gas - that you might be embarrassed to talk about by the light of day?
For example, take Kindra Hall, vice president of sales at a network marketing firm in Phoenix. She admits that drooling excessively while sleeping is a major source of embarrassment, especially when she's been caught in the act. Soaked bed pillows and stained throw pillows are constant reminders of her humiliating habit.
You might not even be aware of your sleeping habits -- until your bed partner clues you in. Sometimes, these behaviors are a part of the natural sleep process. Other times, what you might consider a nuisance -- like snoring -- could be a sign of an underlying sleep problem.
"It's important for people to realize what is a normal phenomenon versus something that needs further evaluation," says William Kohler, MD, medical director of Florida Sleep Institute in Spring Hill, Fla.
Here is the lowdown on your nighttime habits - why they happen and when they could be a sign of something more serious.
Habit #1: Snoring
An estimated 37 million American adults snore on a regular basis, according to the National Sleep Foundation.
Snoring is caused by airway narrowing and tissue vibrations in the nasal passages and throat. Snoring can be associated with colds and allergies, but can also be a sign of a more serious problem, like obstructive sleep apnea.
"It's not really the loudness [that's concerning], it's whether the obstruction that's causing snoring is also causing respiratory impairment at night," Kohler says.
The verdict: Snoring is a common problem, but if you suspect that it's disrupting your sleep, you should get a medical evaluation.
Habit #2: Drooling
Drooling in your sleep can be a normal phenomenon or it can occur in medical conditions that increase salivation, Kohler says. If you drool regularly, you may want to find out if you are at risk for a blocked airway at night or sleep apnea. The verdict: Drooling can be normal, but it can also be associated with other medical conditions.