So, ever heard of sleep bruxism?! Initially, neither did we but unbelievably it’s a seriously common night-time activity! If you’ve ever found yourself waking up with an aching jaw, or in need of a headache-relieving temple rub, chances are you’re one of the 80% of people in the UK that grinds their teeth!
This is a condition that sees sufferers clenching their jaws and grinding either when sound asleep (usually during particularly stressful or tense periods) or when awake. You might be thinking, ok so grinding my teeth isn’t ideal but is it really that bad? Sadly, whilst the act itself might seem pretty harmless besides the odd ache, not getting a handle on the issue could do serious damage to the area over the long term. As always on the Sleep Lab, we’ve got all the info you could ever need…
WHY DO WE DO IT?!
You’ve guessed it, it’s most often because of the big ‘S’ word: Stress. Stress is most definitely on the rise with over 65% of people in the UK admitting to feeling noticeably more stressed since the outbreak of COVID-19 began in March 2020. It also unfortunately means that in this day and age teeth grinding is more common than ever before. Aside from the big ‘S’ , certain daily habits and lifestyle choices can dramatically increase your chances of grinding your teeth, and not surprisingly they include the usual suspects. Excessive use of caffeine, alcohol, tobacco and even some medicines function as a stimulant affecting the quality (and quantity) of your sleep.
Why should we be concerned about this? Besides the fact it can give you a very stiff jaw and more aches and pains than you’d like, the effects of this condition can run deep. If left untreated it can seriously damage the teeth, causing increased sensitivity, cavities and even infection or abscesses! Not what we want. As with anything medical we would always advise you to speak to your healthcare professional (in this case your dentist) as they could well recommend a mouthguard or other treatments but if you want some potential remedies fast, read on!
HOW TO STOP IT?
To stop grinding your teeth when you’re suffering from stress or anxiety often requires you to learn how to both release and manage your internal stress levels. Stress management techniques can come in the form of lots of different shapes and forms. Be it regular physical exercise, meditation, yoga, essential oils, cooking, a massage or warm bath, the list is endless. The secret is to find something you enjoy that allows you to unwind, make dedicated time for on a daily basis and most importantly, STICK TO.
How’s your sleep hygiene?
January is a great time to do a sleep audit. After all, failing to prepare is preparing to fail, are we right?! Now is the time to look at our lifestyle choices and start correcting unhealthy habits or tweaking environmental factors that can seriously affect the quality of our sleep. We always recommend avoiding caffeine from after lunch onwards (but AT LEAST 6-8 hours before bedtime) drinking alcohol, smoking, or eating big meals in the evening…
Take the time to craft your own bespoke bedtime ritual (and invest in some key players), this could be the key to unwinding effectively before sleep. All too often we rush around physically and mentally with a thousand things on the to do list, collapse on the sofa with a bottle of something alcoholic and watch tv until our eyes become so heavy, we can barely keep watching. Only then do we climb the wooden hills to bed-fordshire which doesn’t exactly scream: restorative nights sleep, does it?! The trick with this ritual is to make it sacred and MANAGEABLE (i.e., not 5000 steps long). Think of something simple you can perform every single night without fail, like spritzing the Drowsy Sleep S.O.S Pillow Spray on your Drowsy Silk Pillowcase and slipping on your Drowsy Silk Sleep Mask before you get into bed. These seemingly simple actions when repeated with consistency night after night provide the anchor you need for your new bedtime ritual. Turning it into a space in the day reserved just for you, reducing stress, and prepping your mind and body for sleep.
THE BOTTOM LINE…
Unfortunately, grinding your teeth as you slumber in the long term has the potential to be a serious problem and shouldn’t be ignored. Rectifying the issue involves a deep dive into self-analysis to establish what isn’t quite working in your life currently AND more importantly, how it can be changed. Secondly, it requires a serious commitment to implementing that change, even if it means cutting back on the fun stuff or getting serious about stress.
Are you a serial teeth grinder? Come and join in the conversation over on our Instagram, you might just pick up some more tips!
Until next time,