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Sleeping with TMJ

Chiropractic Insights for How to Sleep with TMJ

Living with a TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorder can be challenging in many ways, especially when you’re trying to sleep. The pain and discomfort caused by muscular tension in the jaw area can spread up and around your temples, causing headaches and making it difficult to rest. The condition, also called TMD (temporomandibular joint disorder) can range in severity and is often temporary but can become chronic if not addressed.   

When someone has a TMD, the joint that connects their lower and upper jaw is dysfunctional, which may result in pain and other discomforts. At night, the tension in the muscles may worsen, which makes it difficult and frustrating to find a comfortable position. To help you find a well-deserved restful night, we’ve compiled a list of quick tips and chiropractor-recommended insights for managing TMD. 

To learn more about the causes, symptoms, and how chiropractic treatments can help resolve your TMJ/TMD, click here

How to Position Yourself At Night with a TMD

Sleeping with TMD is a challenge because of constant strain on the face, head, jaw, and neck. Chances are, if you wake up hurting, your current sleeping position isn’t working in your favor.

The #1 Recommended Sleeping Position

The #1 recommended sleeping position for TMD sufferers is on your back. Why? It puts zero pressure on the jaw, and it supports the neck and shoulders. You’re also less likely to grind your teeth – a common symptom many TMD sufferers exhibit. 

(Bonus! This is also the optimal sleep position for your spine.)

Sleeping Quick Tips for TMD Sufferers 

Here are some easy TMJ-tailored techniques and bedtime tips that can help alleviate pain and keep you comfortable throughout the night.

  • Get the right pillow. A rounded orthopedic pillow or (in a pinch) a rolled bath towel placed under the neck will help emphasize your neck’s natural curve as you sleep. This reduces strain on the neck and jaw muscles and minimizes grinding and tension.
  • Arm position is key. Sleeping on your back may seem limiting, especially if you’re not used to it, but remember you can move 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. Down by your sides or on your torso are good options.
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 “cobra” pose or “sphinx” pose with gentle head rolls can help. “Cat/cow” stretches are also a good starting point, since they help relax the neck and jaw.
  • Treat yourself. TMDs are exacerbated by stress, which can cause more teeth clenching and muscle tension- which causes more stress. Break the cycle by finding something that relaxes you. Maybe it’s the the scent of lavender essential oil or a certain kind of music. Whatever makes you feel calmest, embrace it.

How Chiropractic-Care Can Be a 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 many of the symptoms related to TMD through manipulation of the jaw and the muscles surrounding it. The therapy addresses several of the symptoms such as trouble chewing/speaking without pain, facial pain around the ears, locking of the joint, chronic tension headaches and/or sleepless nights. 

With clinics in the following metro areas: Chicago, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Madison, Vancouver, and St. Louis you’ll be able to find a chiropractor near you to improve your TMJ/TMD. Make an appointment to start your wellness plan today and benefit from the individualized care you’ll receive. 


Chiro One Wellness Centers

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