Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) disorder occurs when there is a malfunction in the joint that connects your lower jaw (or mandible) to the temporal bones at the base of your skull. Chewing, yawning and swallowing are all made possible by the TMJ, so a decrease in function can give rise to a multitude of problems. In this blog post, Dr. Ivan Stein of Headache & TMJ Center of New Jersey in West Orange, New Jersey discusses how TMJ disorder can negatively impact your sleep.
How TMJ Disorder Interrupts Sleep
TMJ disorder can cause chronic discomfort, and is even linked to certain sleep disorders. Headaches caused by jaw misalignment can be intense, even mimicking the severity of a migraine. If a headache isn’t keeping you up at night, you may find that grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw is costing you a good night’s sleep. These symptoms of TMJ disorder not only interrupt slumber, but can be potentially damaging to your teeth’s enamel and fillings. One threat to your slumber is a disorder called sleep apnea, where a person stops breathing several times an hour in their sleep. The jaw misalignment common to TMJ disorder can shift the position of the tongue, blocking a person’s airway while they rest.
Changing Your Sleep Position
While a comprehensive diagnosis is necessary to develop a treatment plan for your TMJ disorder, changing your sleep position may help alleviate some of the symptoms. Sleeping on their back often helps patients with TMJ disorder sleep more soundly for the following reasons:
- – Shoulders, head and neck are properly supported
- – Spine, head and neck are aligned and in a neutral position
- – It keeps the pressure off the jaw
Develop Good Sleep Habits
In addition to finding the right position, your environment largely influences how well you sleep. Blue lights from computer screens and smartphones can delay the production of sleep hormones. Turning off all electronic devices an hour before going to bed will help you drift off more quickly. Cutting out coffee, chocolate and tea in the afternoon can also help you wind down at the end of the day. Caffeine can remain in your system for several hours, delaying your ability to fall asleep.
Only a doctor can diagnose TMJ disorder and help you come up with a comprehensive treatment plan. To schedule a consultation with Dr. Ivan Stein, call the Headache and TMJ Center of New Jersey at (855) 865-3627.