We all know how crucial good sleep is for our health, but for those of us with Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ), getting a good night's sleep is often easier said than done.
The relentless discomfort often spoils what should be a rejuvenating rest.
One thing that helped me reclaim my sleep was practicing breathing exercises as part of my bedtime routine. Deliberate, mindful breathing can help relax the body and mind, and significantly improve the quality of your sleep.
Here are the breathing exercises that have had a great impact on my TMJ issues.
Often referred to as "belly breathing", diaphragmatic breathing has been a game-changer for me.
This simple yet powerful technique involves taking slow, deep breaths through your nose, allowing your diaphragm (not your chest) to rise.
This deep, rhythmic breathing helps reduce stress and promote relaxation, preparing your body for a good night's sleep.
The 4-7-8 technique has been my go-to exercise when I'm struggling to fall asleep.
This technique involves inhaling for 4 seconds, holding your breath for 7 seconds, and then exhaling slowly for 8 seconds.
It's surprisingly effective in calming the mind and helping you drift off to sleep.
Box breathing, often used by athletes to manage stress, has been beneficial in my battle against TMJ-induced sleeplessness.
This technique involves inhaling, holding your breath, exhaling, and holding your breath again, each for a count of four.
The rhythmic, mindful nature of box breathing helps promote a sense of calmness, preparing your body for sleep.
On days when my TMJ pain is particularly bad, I find guided breathing exercises incredibly helpful.
These exercises, available on numerous apps and websites, guide you through different breathing techniques and often include calming background music.
They help take your mind off the pain and lead you towards relaxation and sleep.
This technique combines deep breathing with progressive muscle relaxation, another technique known to promote better sleep.
It involves tensing and then relaxing different muscle groups while maintaining deep, slow breathing.
It helps relieve muscle tension, a common problem for TMJ sufferers, and induces sleepiness.
The Wim Hof Method, named after its Dutch creator, is a relatively new but powerful breathing technique I've found beneficial.
This method involves three distinct phases: a cycle of 30 deep, fast breaths; breath retention after exhaling; and a recovery breath held for 15 seconds. Not only does this method help reduce stress and promote relaxation, it has also been linked to increased control over the body's autonomic nervous system, something that can directly benefit TMJ sufferers.
It's a bit more intense than the other techniques, but I've found it to be an incredibly effective tool for promoting better sleep.
Breathing exercises have made a huge impact in my struggle with TMJ-related sleeplessness.
They've not only helped me fall asleep faster but also improved the quality of my sleep.
Remember that consistency is key when it comes to breathing exercises, so do them regularly.