Bruxism and teeth grinding often occur at night when you are fast asleep, leaving you with a throbbing headache, sore jaw, and even damaged teeth in the morning. While there are some steps you can take before sleeping, such as chewing on crunchy food and having a soothing glass of warm milk, you can also take steps while sleeping to help prevent your bruxism before it starts. Keep reading to find out more!
1. Preparing For Sleep
In order to ready yourself for a good night’s sleep (ie: one without teeth grinding!) you should add a few simple things to your nighttime rituals. The symptoms of bruxism and teeth grinding, such as a horrible headache and sore jaw muscles, can be alleviated by having a carrot, celery stick, or other crunchy food at night: this is because the chewing action will help relax your jaw muscles and prevent them from clenching up during the night.
Another tip is to have a glass of warm milk or other soothing beverage, as this will promote deep sleep and help calm your mind and body before bed. You should, however, avoid alcohol before bed as this can disrupt your sleep pattern and leave you tired (as well as with a sore jaw and head) in the morning.
2. What is the Best Way to Sleep?
Another way to help reduce or prevent grinding your teeth while you sleep is to change your sleep position. When suffering from bruxism, the best position to sleep in is on your back to reduce the stress on your jawline that can come with sleeping on your side or front. Indeed, sleeping on your side or on your stomach may even increase your chances of bruxism and teeth grinding at night.
If you are unable to sleep on your back due to comfort or other reasons, use a contoured pillow at night. When you go to sleep, place the contoured pillow under you face and hold your normal pillow between your arms. Though perhaps odd at first, sleeping in this position will actually reduce the strain on your jaw and neck muscles while also preventing you from rolling over onto your face, which can cause further pressure to your jaw and mouth.
3. What Kind of Pillow Should I Use?
For some patients, the onset of bruxism and teeth grinding at night is reduced or even eliminated by switching to a new, specialized pillow. If you sleep on your side you can follow the advice above, suggesting a contoured pillow under your head and a normal pillow between your arms, but if you sleep on your back you can also invest in one of the several pillows marketed online and in specialty stores which claim to reduce or even eliminate the onset of bruxism while sleeping.
Such pillows aim to cradle your jaw to eliminate any pressure, while also preventing any potential impairment to your breathing: a great advantage if you also suffer from sleep apnea, which affects many people with bruxism and vice versa. Our advice is to buy one of these pillows that has a money-back guarantee: that way, you can try it risk free in your home, making for an inexpensive experiment.
4. Should I Change My Sleep Surface?
You may also find that buying a new, higher end mattress will lead to a reduction in your nighttime teeth grinding. Buying a whole new mattress, however, can come with a hefty price tag, so you may want to first invest in a quality mattress topper or pad to see if altering your sleep surface reduces your nighttime teeth grinding.
These mattress toppers and mattress pads vary from the inexpensive (such as the “egg crate” foam pads available at many retail stores and favored by college students), to thick, higher quality composite foam pads which also include a comforting layer of “memory foam”, in addition to a thinner layer of the standard polyurethane foam. As with the specialty pillows, many mattress pads come with a money-back guarantee that will allow you to try it risk free in your home.
Hopefully these tips and tricks give you the much needed information on how to reduce or completely eliminate the onset of bruxism and teeth grinding while you sleep. Follow some or all of these tips and you will wake up feeling refreshed and ready to face the day – without that throbbing headache or sore jaw!