The quality of your sleep will have a huge impact on your quality of life. A poor night’s sleep will leave you feeling drained and irritable the next day. You might be less productive at work or may suffer from strained personal relationships.
Many conditions can affect your ability to get a good night’s rest, including sleep apnea, insomnia, and temporo-mandibular joint (TMJ) disorders. In this article, I’m going to outline how TMJ disorders can impact sleep and also what you can do about it.
First, let’s take a look at what TMJ disorders are.
What is a TMJ Disorder?
A TMJ disorder occurs when the temporo-mandibular joint is damaged or functioning improperly. The temporo-mandibular joint connects your lower jaw, or mandible, to your upper jaw. It’s one of the most complex joints in your body, allowing for both lateral and vertical movement. If the joint is damaged, it can cause a whole host of problems and may affect your sleep.
TMJ disorders have also been linked to sleep apnea. However, keep in mind that correlation does not prove causation. While the two conditions often occur alongside one another, we’re still are not sure how they are linked.
Before jumping into how TMJ disorders can affect your sleep and whether this related to sleep apnea, let’s briefly review some common TMJ disorder symptoms that you should watch for
Jaw pain is one of the most common TMJ disorder symptoms, but far from the only one. And in some cases, those suffering from this disorder may not experience jaw pain. Either way, there are many other common symptoms to watch for. Let’s look at some.
A popping or clicking sound when the jaw is moved
Difficulty closing or opening the jaw, including locked jaw
Earaches or pain behind the eyes
Pain caused by a TMJ often originates in or around the jaw and then spreads through the face, neck, and shoulders. Headaches, earaches, and pain behind the eyes may occur as the muscles connected to the temporomandibular joint tense up and malfunction. Another common TMJ disorder symptom is bruxism, or teeth grinding. This symptom, in particular, can impact your ability to sleep.
If you find yourself suffering from the above conditions, you may be experiencing a TMJ disorder. And if you’ve been having trouble getting a good night’s rest, problems with your TMJ could be the culprit. Let’s take a look at how TMJ disorders can affect your sleep.
Can a Jaw Problem Really Affect My Sleep?
Many different things can affect your sleep. Stressed at work? You might have trouble falling asleep. Got a headache? It can be difficult to doze through the pain. The same is true when it comes to jaw pain. You’ll have an easier time falling asleep if you’re not in pain. If your TMJ disorder is causing headaches, earaches, or pain behind the eyes, falling asleep could also be more difficult.
Healthy teeth patient at dentist office dental caries prevention It’s also difficult to treat TMJ pain with over-the-counter pain medications. Sure, a few pills might dull the aches but unless the underlying condition that’s causing your disorder is addressed, the pain quickly come back. Even if you manage to fall asleep, the pain might wake you up once it returns. You could and tossing and turning, hoping for the pain to go away.
Then there’s bruxism. This condition is a common TMJ disorder symptom and can also interrupt your sleep. Bruxism occurs when your jaw muscles clench, exerting pressure on your teeth, jaw, and joints. You may end up grinding your teeth, exacerbating damage to the joints and your teeth. Loud teeth grinding could also make it more difficult for your loved ones to fall and stay asleep.
If your TMJ disorder is causing stress, anxiety, or making it difficult to eat, this could also affect your sleep. You may have trouble both falling asleep and staying asleep.