Sleeping can be extremely difficult if one is having a painful episode (or ongoing episode) of TMJ Disorder. In fact, for some, sleep may not even be possible without the aide of pain medication or sleeping potions. Try to avoid both of these remedies. Perhaps the following ideas, taken from You Can Conquer TMJ: Ideas and Recipes, may help.
Avoid Side Sleeping
Maybe it's not even possible, but try not to sleep on the TMJD side of your face. If you are a person who sleeps on your back, rejoice. Sleeping on the side where you have the sore jaw does not help the situation one bit, which you probably already know. Most of the time, as you are aware, you will wake up in pain. Unfortunately, there are no clever tricks for managing the sleep issue, but here are a few ideas.
Try cradling your head, or putting your arm under it so the pressure is not on the jaw joint. (However, just gravity alone can cause the joint to ache.)
Tom McDannold, fellow TMJ sufferer, recommends sleeping with the bottom of the pillow at eye level, so the lower half of one's face is off the pillow. Again, gravity may cause pain.
Start on the Back
For starters, lay on your back, focus on your breathing and relaxing your jaw. Concentrate on making sure the lower jaw is relaxed. Place the tip of your tongue gently behind the front teeth. Some people find it helpful to start off in this position. If one places large pillows or cushions along both sides of one's head, that may help keep one from rolling over to one's side.
Even before one retires for the night, a teaspoon of "Natural Calm Plus Calcium" (a magnesium-calcium formulation) in a glass of warm water can help one relax naturally. Follow directions on the container. Eventually the dosage may be upped to four teaspoons for maximum calming. The product contains magnesium, calcium potassium, vitamin C, vitamin D3 and Boron.
No Alcohol or Stimulants
Avoid alcohol and stimulants of any kind in the hours before bed. It has been shown that alcohol and stimulant usage may exacerbate TMJ grinding and clenching.
A good night's sleep is essential for health and well-being. TMJ Disorder can be extremely disruptive to one's sleep, so it is critical that one find a way to relieve jaw pressure at bedtime.