Sleep-related movement disorders can affect a good night’s sleep. You may not be conscious of the fact that you are not sleeping well but the next day’s fatigue is a tell-tale sign. Sleep-related movement disorders are conditions that cause you to make involuntary, unconscious movements while asleep. Bruxism, also called nocturnal teeth grinding, involves jaw clenching or grinding teeth while asleep. According to the American Sleep Association, bruxism affects as much as 10 percent of American adults and 15 percent of children. The prevalence is higher – as much as 50 percent – in people who have a family history.
The exact cause of bruxism is not known but it has been attributed to several factors. These include stress and anxiety, genetics, sleep disorders, and certain medications. Regular tobacco, alcohol, and drug use are also factors. Nicotine is a stimulant and increases-bruxism related symptoms. On the other hand, alcohol may trigger muscles to hyperactivate and cause teeth to grind. In the case of recreational drugs, most are central nervous system stimulants that may initiate motor disorders and cause bruxism.
The symptoms of bruxism can go unnoticed and it’s only when complications develop that people pay attention. Sometimes, the condition is brought to light during visits to the dentist. The symptoms include:
If you have a bed partner, they’re likely to notice your condition prior to you noticing it. However, if you sleep alone you might only find out you have bruxism when you have symptoms listed above.
Like many sleep disorders, bruxism can interfere with the quality of sleep. For instance, snoring may not seem like a big deal, especially if you don’t wake up from it. However, it leads to fragmented sleep as you try to breathe normally when your airways narrow. Similarly, the grinding action of your teeth causes the muscles of the face to tense up when they should be relaxed during sleep. The pain that arises from grinding teeth can also prevent you from falling asleep and staying asleep. Over time, this poor sleep quality starts to take a toll on your health.
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So far, there’s no cure for bruxism and treatment relies on lifestyle changes. If your child, bed partner or yourself have bruxism, these tips may help.
If bruxism is severe, you might want to consider using splints and mouth guards. They can protect teeth against the damage that grinding can do. Keep in mind that they may not reduce bruxism. If sleeping with these in your mouth is uncomfortable, your dentist may suggest other mechanisms to protect the teeth.
Bruxism might be triggered by stress and anxiety. Managing your emotions might reverse the condition. There are many things you can do to reduce stress and anxiety. You can start by indulging in physical activity, whether it’s playing a sport, taking a walk or a dance class. Reading, listening to music, journaling and cooking are a few other ways to relax.
If you have jaw pain due to bruxism, you can soothe it by applying warm or cool compression. Do it for about 15 minutes or until you feel the pain subside. Facial massages are another way to reduce pain. You can do them yourself any time of the day. Focus on the area beneath your cheekbones, below your ears and your jawline.
For many people, having a nightcap is a normal way to wind down. However, it does more harm than good. Drinking alcohol before sleep can lead to fragmented sleep in the second half of the night. It can also trigger bruxism and prevent you from waking up refreshed. Rather than depend on it to sleep, turn your bedroom into a sanctuary that lulls you to sleep when you step into it.
Your bedroom should be neat, clean, quiet and free of distractions. Try to keep the temperature between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit, which is the optimum temperature to induce sleep. Minimize bright lights by using blackout shades or thick drapes to block out outside light. Darkness signals your body to start producing the sleep hormone, melatonin.
In addition to all of these, make sure to use a well-designed mattress. It should be comfortable and supportive so that you don’t wake up from discomfort at night. The Nuvanna mattress is the ideal choice. It’s designed by a materials scientist with over 20 years of experience in the industry. It has a triple-layer construction that addresses different sleep disruptors. The top layer regulates body temperature with the help of phase-changing gel particles that absorb body heat and disperse it. the middle layer isolates motion to allow you and your bed partner to move freely without disturbing each other. The bottom layer provides support to different parts of the body, including the length of the spine, to prevent body pain and backaches.
Bruxism doesn’t have to ruin your sleep or your teeth. Implementing some simple habits and making changes, it’s very possible to manage – and even reverse – bruxism. If you still don’t see the condition subside, you should speak to your dentist or a sleep specialist to come up with a treatment plan designed exclusively for your needs.