How TMJ Can Be Affecting Your Sleep

TMJ can cause many sleep problems and affect your function from day to day. This is especially the case when combined with sleep disorders or other narcoleptic problems.

Dr. Dunaway is a specialist in TMJ disorders and can address TMJ pain to help restore patients to optimum functionality by achieving a good night’s sleep. Here is how TMJ could be affecting your sleep.

What is TMJ?

TMJ refers to the joint that hinges the jaw and allows it to open and close. Otherwise known as the temporomandibular joint, TMJ is prone to malfunctions which can be chronic or temporary. This dental condition can impact one’s sleeping pattern due to the accompanying pain that it can cause. This pain is not always specific to the jaw and can spread throughout the face and body.


If You’re Experiencing TMJ, Some Symptoms May Include:

  • Poor bite alignment
  • Swelling and pain around jaws or ears
  • Tenderness and discomfort around the jaw joint or other connected body parts, such as the neck, ears, and shoulders
  • Lockjaw when in an open or closed position
  • Clicking or popping sounds when eating, which emanates from the jaw
  • Soreness of the face

How Does TMJ Affect Your Sleep?

There are many ways that TMJ can affect your sleep. Three of the most common reasons include:

Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea is a medical condition whereby, when someone sleeps, their airways are cut off. The brain alerts the heart to keep beating in an attempt to generate oxygen, which leads to a person waking up and gasping for breath.

According to recent studies, TMJ is one of the main causes of sleep apnea. This is because a misaligned jaw alters the tongue’s position, which may cause it to obstruct the airways through the night. This, in turn, affects oxygen levels and contributes to daytime tiredness, memory issues, and irritability.


Bruxism occurs when someone excessively grinds or clenches their teeth during sleep. This is an unconscious behavior that can be detrimental to teeth and the TMJ joint. Significant clenching of the jaw can cause unnecessary strain which eventually leads to headaches. This can have an indirect impact on one’s quality of sleep due to restlessness or the inability to overcome head pain. Our exceptional team of dentists will resolve this through mouthguards or other specialist treatments.

Night Headaches

If you suffer from TMJ and you’re experiencing migraines at night time, it’s likely that the two are connected. A misaligned bite puts strain on connecting muscles which can result in pain in the back of the head, forehead, or neck.

How to Treat TMJ

If you have been diagnosed with TMJ, Dr. Dunaway encourages you to book an appointment at our dental facility right away for TMJ and sleep treatment. We operate a compassionate dental practice that puts the care of patients at the forefront of its aims.

For more information on our general dental services or to book an appointment, please get in touch.