Sleeping With TMJ This week we continue our discussion on TMJ/TMDs (temporomandibular joint disorder)—from causes to symptoms to chiropractic care—but something that not a lot of people address? Sleeping with TMJ. When someone has a TMD, the joint that connects their lower and upper jaw is dysfunctional, resulting in facial pain and other discomforts. At night, that tension in the muscles can make it hard to find a pain-free position, and the attempt to create one can be frustrating and upsetting. We want to help you get the most out of your sleep, and you deserve restful nights without pain. Here are some ways you can manage TMJ symptoms for a better night of sleep.

The No. 1 Position

Strain on the face, head, jaw or neck can make your TMD sleep struggle even harder. Chances are, if you wake up hurting, the position you’ve been using isn’t the best call. The No. 1 recommended sleeping position for TMD sufferers is on the back. Why? It puts no pressure on the jaw, supports the neck and shoulders, and you’re less likely to grind your teeth—a symptom many TMD sufferers exhibit. (Bonus! This is also the optimal sleep position for your spine.)

TMD Sleeping Quick Tips

Sometimes, sleeping in the right position isn’t enough—it’s just too hard to relax, and the pain is distracting. Here are some no-med TMJ-tailored sleeping techniques and bedtime tips to help you out.

Get the right pillow. A rounded orthopedic pillow—or in a pinch situation, a rolled bath towel—placed under the neck will certainly help. This supports and extends the neck in a way that doesn’t strain muscles and minimizes grinding or tension. Ask your chiropractor for help selecting the best one for you.

Arm position is key. Sleeping on your back may seem limiting, especially if you’re not used to it, but remember you can utilize your arms and legs, placing them in ways that seem more comfortable. Just don’t pull your arms up by your head—that can strain your neck, causing more jaw pain.

Sleeping With TMJ

Pay attention to your tongue. Weird, we know, but if your tongue is pushing against your front teeth when you’re resting, you might need to retrain it. Proper tongue rest should separate your teeth and relax your jaw.

Try some bedtime yoga. Some light yoga before bed, especially a routine designed for neck pain and TMJ relief, could really help you relax. The “Superman” pose is a good starting point. Check with your doctor first if you’re unsure if yoga is right for you.

Treat yourself. TMDs are exacerbated by stress, which can cause more teeth clenching and muscle tension… which in turn causes more stress. Break the cycle by finding something that relaxes you. Maybe the scent of lavender essential oil. Maybe a certain kind of music. Find what makes you feel your calmest and embrace it.

The Long-Term Solution

The best way to ensure a restful night of TMJ relief is by investing in a long-term solution, and we’re not talking surgery or medication. Chiropractic care can alleviate some of the symptoms of TMD through manipulation of the jaw and muscles surrounding it, potentially relieving tension and pain. Whether those symptoms are trouble chewing/speaking without pain, headaches or sleepless nights, chiropractic care can help address your TMD/TMJ symptoms at the root of the problem.