Grinding your teeth is a bad habit that can be highly annoying for any unlucky soul who happens to sleep with you. I say this because I know from experience – it sounds like the person next to you is eating nuts with the shells on and as well as being loud it’s simply the kind of noise that makes you cringe – like fingernails on a black board. As well as just being irritating however, it can also be generally very bad for you causing headaches and of course damaging your teeth. It’s certainly something you need to combat if it’s an issue, so here we will look at some things to try.
Sleep With a Mouth Guard
This is one of the most obvious solutions if you find yourself grinding your teeth – simply putting a rubber mouth guard in can be effective in preventing you from grinding your teeth together because it keeps them apart. The downside is of course that you end up looking a bit like a rugby player going to sleep, and that you can still clench your jaw very tightly which may still cause headaches – however as a temporary solution it is very useful and you may find that after using it you gradually stop needing it.
Grinding your teeth is sometimes – though not always – a sign of stress. Thus one of the most obvious ways to combat the problem is often to address the root cause of the stress rather than the teeth grinding directly. This may require therapy, lifestyle changes, or just a long holiday.
Relax in the Evening
Chronic stress can contribute very easily to teeth grinding if it results in disturbed sleep, but so can simply being too worked up before bed. If you watch an action film, do a workout and then drink a mug of coffee before sleep then you are far more likely to be active when you sleep and far more likely to grind – keep the time building up to sleep as a time to relax and unwind so that when you go to sleep you are relaxed and your heart rate is down.
Use Muscle Relaxants
Meanwhile you can also help to relax your body and mind with muscle relaxants before sleep whether those are sleeping pills or a glass of warm milk (which will stimulate the production of melatonin). Meanwhile even just getting a massage before bed, or taking a warm bath can help, as can using muscle relaxation and breathing techniques. Try to avoid becoming dependent on sleeping tablets as this is unhealthy in it’ own right – but again these are a useful temporary solution.
You are most likely to grind your teeth when you are only lightly sleeping and when you are experiencing REM sleep as opposed to SWS (slow wave sleep). You can encourage yourself to sleep more deeply by ensuring that your room is dark and quiet, by going to bed at a regular time most nights, and by avoiding eating before bed.
Help From a Friend
If you are just worried about the condition of your teeth more than the quality of your sleep, and if you sleep with a partner who is woken by your grinding (ahem) then you can always just ask them to wake you each time you start to crunch your teeth. Again an interim solution, but you may find that you gradually start to do it less – or you could then just put in your mouth guard.