Don’t Forget Sleep Apnea & TMJ When Considering Sleep Position
As a way to get your best night of sleep yet, you might have come across several articles across the internet that say which positions are best and which are the worst. Sleeping on your back is good for X but it’s bad for Z. How do you know which sleep position is actually the best? What if you change your sleep position and you’re still snoring?
Let’s explore the different sleep positions and how they can affect your sleep and find out which one is best for you.
Sleeping on Your Side
Sleeping on your side is one of the best sleep positions for overall quality of sleep. Side sleeping creates optimal blood flow, reduces the chance of airway obstructions, and keeps your spine aligned. This can prevent back pain—especially if you have a good mattress.
Sleeping on your left side can reduce symptoms of acid reflux and help keep your spine aligned. Additionally, it can reduce insomnia and for pregnant women, it can increase circulation for the growing baby. However, the quality of your sleep when sleeping on your side relies heavily on your pillow.
If you sleep on your right side, it will also prevent airway obstructions and keep your spine aligned.
The one downside to side sleeping is if you have a TMJ disorder. When you lay on your side, it causes your jaw to rest in a misaligned position. This can cause you to wake up with a sore jaw.
Sleeping on Your Back
You might associate sleeping on your back with snoring. Snoring when sleeping on your back is common because gravity usually takes control. Gravity will cause the soft tissues in the mouth such as your tongue and upper airway muscles to collapse into the throat and obstruct the airway. This can cause snoring and in the case of sleep apnea, stopped breathing. If you’re prone to snoring at night, we strongly recommend not sleeping on your back.
On the flip side, sleeping on your back is one of the better positions for those who have TMJ. This is because your jaw won’t experience any misalignment when you’re on your back. The only exception is if you snore or have sleep apnea. When you’re unable to breathe correctly during sleep, your body’s natural reaction is to try to open up the airway. To accomplish this, your teeth will clench and grind and thus cause jaw pain in the morning.
If you struggle to sleep in any position other than your back, or you start in a different position and end up on your back, try sleeping with a tennis ball taped to your back. Every time you roll over to your back it will feel uncomfortable and then your body will move to a new position.
Sleeping on Your Stomach
Sleeping on your stomach is a better alternative for those who snore or have sleep apnea than sleeping on your back. It’s not as good as sleeping on your side though. When you sleep on your stomach, your tongue and soft tissues can’t obstruct the airway. On the flip side though, sleeping on your stomach can cause jaw misalignment and painful TMJ symptoms.
The Best Sleep Position For Sleep Apnea and Snoring
The key to finding the best sleep position is using the one that gives you the best rest. If you snore or have sleep apnea, chances are that sleeping on your back is probably the position that makes you most likely to feel like you haven’t gotten any rest overnight. That’s a good sign that you’re at serious risk because of your sleep apnea, which can increase the risk of heart disease, depression and other mood disorders, and serious accidents at work or on the road.
If you snore nightly, we encourage you to take a sleep test to determine if sleep apnea is the cause. If you do have sleep apnea, Dr. Berry can provide you with an oral appliance that will hold your airway open while you sleep—regardless of what position you sleep in.
The Best Sleep Position For TMJ Disorders
If we had to choose the best sleep position for TMJ disorders, it would be none of them. No sleep position will improve your TMJ disorder. Only TMJ treatment will. We encourage you to visit Dr. Berry in Denver for TMJ treatment. Once you get your custom-made oral splint, you can sleep in whichever position you desire without waking up with a sore jaw or suffering other painful consequences in the morning.
Which Sleep Position Is Right For Me? The One You Use With Sleep Apnea or TMJ Treatment
At the end of the day, the best sleep position for you is the one you use your sleep apnea or TMJ treatment with. As long as you’re using your treatment on a nightly basis, your overall health and quality of sleep and life will improve. To contact a sleep and TMJ dentist in Denver, please call (303) 691-0267 today for an appointment at the TMJ Therapy & Sleep Center of Colorado.