TMJ or Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction is a painful condition that compromises the movement of the jaw and surrounding muscles, causing pain. Finding a comfortable sleeping position can be challenging for those suffering from TMJ. As someone who’s had TMJ for years, I can personally attest to the difficulties of getting a comfortable night’s sleep. If you’re one of the millions who also suffer from TMJ, you don’t have to settle for painful nights and groggy mornings. This article will tell you the best position for TMJ to help ensure a restful night’s sleep and give you a list of the top pillows you can use to sleep deeply and wake refreshed.
The way you sleep can put a strain on your head, face, jaw, and neck, exacerbating your TMJ. Your sleep position has a direct influence on:
- How the muscles in your head, shoulders, and neck stretch
- Your neck and head support
- The force against your neck, head, and jaw regions
- The likelihood that you’ll grind and clench your teeth
What Is The Best Position For TMJ?
Hands-down the best sleeping position for TMJ is on your back. When you sleep on your back, you relieve pressure from your jaw, which reduces pain. Back sleeping also provides the proper support needed for your head, neck, and shoulders and works to keep your body in its proper alignment.
Back sleeping keeps your shoulders, neck, and head in a neutral position which helps eliminate pressure points and straining that increases TMJ symptoms. It also makes it less likely that you will clench your jaw in your sleep, which is a major contributing factor to increased severity and pain for those suffering from TMJ.
The worst position you can choose is sleeping on your stomach. The weight of your body pushes against you and puts increased pressure on your jaw and head, which worsens TMJ over time. Side-sleeping is also not recommended as it puts pressure on only one side of your jaw, pushing it out of alignment, causing pain.
Only 14% of people naturally sleep on their backs, making it the least likely sleeping position for a restful night’s sleep. With so few people finding back sleeping comfortable, how can you make yourself sleep in this position to help relieve your TMJ symptoms? You can use a few tips to train yourself to become a back sleeper.
Tip #1 – Be Patient
Remember that changing your sleeping position takes time. Most of us have slept the same way all our lives; it’s become an involuntary habit. Everyone knows the one position they can go to that is so comfortable that they quickly fall asleep. We’re creatures of habit, which is good news because it means you can form a new habit of sleeping on your back with a bit of patience.
Tip #2 – Get A Good Mattress
Finding the right mattress makes the transition to back sleeping much easier and enjoyable. It’s also a solid investment since sleep is vital for staying healthy and living your best life. When searching for a mattress, an adjustable one is an excellent option as it has more give in the middle and helps keep you in the correct position all night long. You’re not as susceptible to rolling from side to side because it cradles and supports your body.
A memory foam mattress is also a good option as it conforms to your body and relieves any painful or uncomfortable pressure points back sleeping can cause. You can choose the level of support to fit your liking and comfort preference.
Tip #3 – Move Your Arms
Many people mistakenly believe that you have to have your arms straight down at your side when you sleep on your back. Although that position is best for your body’s alignment, you still benefit from back sleeping however you choose to rest your arms. So move them around and find a position that’s comfortable for you!
Tip #4 – Use The Right Pillow
Having the right pillow makes back sleeping significantly more comfortable. A supportive head pillow is invaluable as it cushions your head and supports your neck. Additionally, try placing a small, thin pillow beneath the arch of your spine to give added support and comfort.
Best Pillows For TMJ
Below is a list of the best pillows you can use to help relieve pressure and provide supportive comfort as you sleep.
Zamat Memory Foam Pillow
Perfect to help avoid neck pain when sleeping on your back, the Zamat Memory Foam Pillow features an adjustable thickness with removable pads, a contoured shape to cradle your head and neck, breathability, and softness. The outer cover contains bamboo fabric, which is moisture-wicking and perfect for maintaining a cool temperature. It’s machine washable, making it low maintenance and hygienic. Available in both Standard and Queen sizes.
Osteo Cervical Pillow
The Osteo Cervical Pillow features an ergonomic design with a hollow center that cradles your head and maintains your spine’s natural curvature. The result is pressure relief along your neck and head, which is vital for lessening TMJ symptoms. The Osteo Cervical Pillow contains 3D mesh fiber that provides unmatched breathability and airflow, ensuring a cool night’s sleep. The memory foam is CertiPUR-US certified, so you don’t have to worry about harmful chemicals. Available in Standard and Queen sizes in five color options.
Pep Step Lumbar Pillow
The Pep Step Lumbar Pillow gives ideal support for back sleepers with its three-inch thickness and cooling gel interior. Perfect to place under the small of your back as you sleep, it’s machine washable, hypoallergenic, and made from earth-friendly materials.
Idle Hippo Lumbar Pillow
The Idle Hippo Lumbar Pillow gives you adjustable thickness to choose your perfect support level and features open weave fabric to keep you cool. It’s machine washable and won’t flatten over time. Available in Large or Extra-Large sizes.
Back sleeping is the best position for TMJ and offers relief from painful symptoms. With time and helpful tools like the correct pillow, you can get the restful night’s sleep you need and deserve.