Bruxism, or how the body relieves tension during sleep

29 March, 2019 / Mateusz

In Europe, this affects up to 25 percent of the population, mostly young women and men, but it also occurs in children. Bruxism, or the unconscious clenching of the jaw muscles during sleep, happens above all to people living in constant tension and stress, causing a number of afflictions and dangers. What exactly is bruxism and how can you fight it?

Suppressed aggression

Already in our ancestors, the mandible was the strongest organ serving to defend and show aggression. A similar mechanism can be observed in young children who use these primary reflexes to show anger or dissatisfaction – usually biting or ostentatiously gritting their teeth. As a result of evolution, the grinding or clenching of the jaw today is a symptom of suppressed aggression and is characterised by people who cannot cope with stress or bad emotions. In stressful situations, it ends with increased muscle tension, which lasts from a few seconds up to even an hour (including breaks)! The effect? Damage to the teeth and even the entire bite. In some, as a result of permanent clamping, the facial features change by moving the bite line. The prolonged and strong tension of the masseter muscles leads to their overgrowth, which gives a picture of a so-called square face.

At night and during the day

If you think that unconscious jaw clamping is a phenomenon that occurs only at night, then you are mistaken. The gnashing of the teeth and excessive movement of the jaw muscles occurs most often at night, but it also appears during the day when we work in strong concentration, we get nervous or we experience everyday stressful situations. The clamp is involuntary and we have no control over it. Awareness of this process most often takes place when pain or lockjaw suddenly occurs that prevents mouth opening. There may not only be pain in the maxillary line, but also severe headaches, earaches and even the spine. Such practices also lead to teeth abrasion and sleep disruption, which in the long-term process usually ends up with problems with falling asleep, getting up, focusing and concentration.

Sleep disorders

Bruxism is the most common symptom or the result of other afflictions and diseases. People who suffer from chronic stress and, as a result, fatigue, are much more likely to experience this dysfunction. The problem may also affect snorers or those who struggle with sleep apnoea. Who else is in the risk group? All those who talk during sleep, sleepwalkers, they often wake up, are in a shallow sleep, as well as people experiencing hallucinations or lucid dreams. The risk group also includes addicted smokers, coffee lovers and those who like to hit the bottle. The problem concerns not only adults but also children – the results of many studies confirm that teeth clamping applies to as much as 59 percent of children. So what can you do to get rid of the problem or to secure yourself and your family against it? Firstly, you need to control the stress, frustration and suppressed aggression.

Sensory quilts

If you suspect that bruxism can affect you or your child, which is why you are struggling with sleep disorders, it is a good idea to use a therapeutic sensory quilt. It is slightly heavier than a standard quilt, causing a feeling of very gentle pressure. The pressure, in turn, initiates sending information to the brain that the body is located in a specific place and time, and thus is safe. As a result, the level of cortisol (stress hormone) decreases (the body does not have to be in full reactionary readiness anymore), and the body slowly goes into a state of relaxation and tranquillity. The use of a sensory quilt is also a great solution for people who suffer from sleep disorders, cannot cope with stress and its unloading – also in the case of children. According to research, this is one of the most effective, non-invasive and non-pharmacological activities that reduce stress and have a positive effect on the effectiveness of rest.