The Best Sleep Position for TMJ Pain

TMJ relief infographic

TMJ disorders are a common occurrence with estimates stating that about 10 million in the US are dealing with pain and range of motion issues in the jaw. However, there are definitely ways to counteract the pain and still enjoy everything from eating to sleeping. Here are a few tips for dealing with TMJ problems naturally, including the best sleep position.

The Best and Worst Sleep Position for TMJ

If you suffer from TMJ issues, the best sleep position is flat on your back. No pressure is put on the jaw during the night. The neck is in a natural position. As a result, you should be able to get a good night’s rest without jaw pain being worse in the morning.

The worst sleep position for TMJ pain is on your stomach. This forces a person to turn his or her head to the side in order to breathe. The jaw is pressed against the pillow, or sometimes the person’s arm, which can leave it sore in the morning. Plus, having the head turned all night is a strain on the neck, which can actually lead to worse jaw problems.

Let’s take a look at why caring for your neck is so important for jaw health.

TMJ relief infographic

The most recommended sleeping position for individuals with TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint) disorder is typically sleeping on your back. Here's why this position is often favored:

  • Reduced Jaw Pressure: Sleeping on your back helps minimize pressure on the jaw joint, which can alleviate discomfort associated with TMJ.
  • Proper Neck Support: This position offers essential support to your neck, shoulders, and head, promoting optimal spinal alignment.
  • Less Jaw Movement: Back sleeping reduces the likelihood of teeth clenching or grinding during the night, common habits that can exacerbate TMJ symptoms.
  • Comfort and Rest: It provides a comfortable and restful position for those with TMJ, as there is minimal strain on the jaw.

Upper Cervical Alignment and TMJ Research

An often-overlooked problem when it comes to jaw pain is the close proximity of the atlas (C1 vertebra). A misalignment can put pressure on the TMJ and the nerves of the face. As a result, TMJ dysfunction can occur. Therefore, this is a good place to look for natural relief if one is dealing with jaw pain.

Upper cervical chiropractic and TMJ treatment research includes case studies and randomized controlled trials. A case study by Healthful Chiropractic North Dallas discusses a 58-year-old female with neck pain, difficulty swallowing, and TMJ problems who experienced improvements after receiving upper cervical chiropractic care.

Another case study by the Craniocervical Foundation describes a six-year-old girl with teeth grinding, neck pain, and TMJ problems who experienced relief after a single upper cervical chiropractic correction.

A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials found that upper cervical spine mobilization/manipulation can improve pain, increase pressure pain threshold, and improve maximal mouth opening in patients with temporomandibular joint dysfunction.

Additionally, a case study involving a 35-year-old patient with spinal muscular atrophy type III found that chiropractic care, including TMJ mobilization, myofascial therapy, trigger point therapy, and light spinal mobilizations of the upper cervical vertebrae, improved TMJ range of motion and reduced pain.

An upper cervical chiropractor can examine your upper cervical spine and use diagnostic imaging to determine the exact location of a misalignment. Then a gentle adjustment is used to correct the problem. For some, this has led to a wide range of benefits as the long-lasting adjustment gives the body time to heal. It may even be able to help provide long-term relief for a TMJ disorder. Find an upper cervical specialist near you.

Find An Upper Cervical Doctor in Your Area

to schedule a consultation today.

Find an Upper Cervical Specialist In Your Area

to schedule a consultation today.

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The content and materials provided in this web site are for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to supplement or comprise a medical diagnosis or other professional opinion, or to be used in lieu of a consultation with a physician or competent health care professional for medical diagnosis and/or treatment. All content and materials including research papers, case studies and testimonials summarizing patients' responses to care are intended for educational purposes only and do not imply a guarantee of benefit. Individual results may vary, depending upon several factors including age of the patient, severity of the condition, severity of the spinal injury, and duration of time the condition has been present.