TMJ & Sleep Therapy Centre

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Sleeping with TMJ

Sleeping With TMJ

TMJ is the temporomandibular joint which acts like a sliding hinge that connects your jawbone to your skull. You have one TMJ on each side of your jaw. Unfortunately, a whole host of things can cause pain in the TMJ, which can cause stress on the jaw joint. Although these problems can be caused by any number of factors, including injury, repetitive motion, genetics, and arthritis, one of the most common contributors is the tendency to grind your teeth during the night (also known as bruxism).

There are many aids that can help with teeth grinding, from surgeries to appliances, but there are also behaviors you can take to help you sleep better.

How Should I Sleep With TMJ

One of the most painful TMJ problems is sleep, because that’s when you grind your teeth and because that’s when you lay with your jaw not in perfect alignment. When you think about the best ways to sleep with TMJ, some of the most common are supporting your next and head (this may require investment into a new pillow, but the rewards can vastly outweigh the consequences); avoiding positions where you feel next and back strain (this may take some trial and error, but it can be done); determine whether you clench your jaw or grind your teeth while sleeping.

How Should I Sleep to Relieve Jaw Pain?

There are a lot of practices that you can take to get better sleep and ease your kaw pain. Some of these include:

  • Sleeping on your stomach. This is possibly the worst sleeping position for easing TMJ pain. Your spine is out of alignment, and pushing your face into your pillow puts a lot of pressure on those precious jaw joints--which will lead to gritting your teeth and clenching your jaw.
  • Laying on Your Side. Depending on the pillow you use, sleeping on your side can put your head and neck out of alignment, leading to TMJ pain in the morning and the day.
  • On Your Back. If you suffer from TMJ pain, lying on your back is by far your best option. Your neck and back stay in good alignment and no pressure is put on your jaw. Sleeping on your back can seem uncomfortable at first and feel unnatural, but as you train yourself to fall asleep in this position you will definitely feel the results.

Why Is TMJ Worse at Night?

TMJ is worse at night because that’s when you’re prone to grind your teeth and clench your jaw. Nighttime clenching is caused primarily by your body trying to keep your airway open, and while you’re asleep your body does the best that it can.

Can a Night Guard Make TMJ Worse?

Night guards not only don’t make TMJ worse, they actually make it much better. Night guards can prevent headaches and migraines caused by clenching and grinding. A night guard is a thin, unobtrusive device that is often clear and hardly noticeable to others. It prevents contact between the upper and lower teeth.

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TMJ & Sleep Therapy Centre of Raleigh-Durham

  • 1150 NW Maynard Rd, Suite #140
    Cary, North Carolina 27513
  • (919) 323-4242
  • Monday: 9am – 5pm Tuesday: 9am – 6pm Wednesday: 9am – 5pm Thursday: 9am – 6pm Friday: 9am – 1pm Sat - Sun Closed We always have someone to answer the phone from 9-5pm every day
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