Did you know that you might be making your TMJ or temporomandibular joint disorder worse during the night than in the day?
That’s because you’re not conscious and, therefore, cannot stop yourself from clenching your jaw. You might also be unaware that your sleeping position is putting a significant amount of pressure on your jaw joint and muscles. With that, your TMJ may worsen – even if you’re not spending the full eight hours on the bed.
While there’s really no way to control how you sleep, you can at least make sure to start in the right position.
Why the Sleeping Position Matters
A bad sleeping position can lead to a number of TMJ issues, including strain on the jaw and neck, and jaw pain by the ear. It also affects how your neck and head are supported, which also affects your likelihood of clenching or grinding your teeth.
The Best Sleeping Position
The best way to prevent TMJ from worsening during sleep is by sleeping on your back. This position does not put pressure on the jaw and offers proper support to the neck, head, and shoulders.
Not only does sleeping on your back minimize TMJ pain, it also provides the optimal alignment of the body as it keeps the head, spine, and neck in a neutral position. If you’re at risk for sleep apnea, however, avoid sleeping on your back as it can only make the condition worse.
Worst Sleeping Positions
The worst position for TMJ patients, on the other hand, is sleeping on the stomach. Not only is the spine alignment out of whack, it also makes it easy to put pressure on the jaw, which then leads to teeth grinding or jaw clenching. Sleeping on your side with an arm under your head can be damaging, too.
We spend nearly a third of our lives sleeping – and spending all that time in a bad position could significantly worsen your TMJ pain. So to feel rejuvenated, refreshed, and well rested with no signs of jaw pain, get into the habit of sleeping in the right position.