Your bed should be a place where you can relax and rejuvenate your body each night, preparing yourself for the day ahead. But for people who suffer from temporomandibular disorders (TMD), rest and sleep can be a challenge.
Many people find that their jaw or temporomandibular joint (TMJ) pain is actually worse at night, interfering with their sleep. This chronic lack of sleep can cause a vicious cycle in those who suffer from TMJ problems. It can lead to numerous health problems such as obesity and diabetes, your energy levels will suffer, and your ability to cope with pain will be diminished.
Fortunately, there are a few simple things you can do to help minimize nighttime TMJ pain. Once you start getting better sleep at night, you’ll feel better overall and you will be better able to cope with stress. This, in turn, will help improve your TMD symptoms.
Check Your Mattress
Is your mattress past its prime? Over time, even the best mattress will lose its natural support, causing you to wake with pain in various parts of the body. Your TMJ – and any pain you’re having – could have a lot to do with improper support of your back, shoulders, and neck due to an old mattress. If your mattress is seven years old or more, consider purchasing a new mattress. Your jaw requires proper support that feels comfortable and supportive each night. A good night’s sleep – and your jaw’s health – is well worth the investment!
Pillows are Paramount
Another important component of quality rest every night is your pillow. A pillow that’s too large, small, firm, or soft will significantly affect the position of your neck and head, putting strain on your shoulders, back, and your jaw. This can mean the difference between a restful night or one that causes further pain and tension in your jaw muscles.
At MedCenter TMJ, we recommend most of our patients try to adopt back sleeping, so choose a pillow that keeps your head, neck, and back in alignment while you’re lying on your back. You shouldn’t feel that your head is jutting forward, but it should feel supportive enough to take strain off your muscles and help you rest. You do not have to choose an expensive pillow, although some people find that the memory foam pillows are worth the cost for them. A plain, polyester-filled pillow can work just as well if it’s the right size and firmness for you.
Focus on Better Sleep for TMJ Relief
Finally, keep your room comfortable but cool to allow for optimum sleeping conditions. Turn off the phones and television at least an hour before bedtime. Try relaxation or stress reduction exercises if needed, and settle in for a comfortable night without TMJ pain.