A neurology practice noted that of its patients who had restless legs syndrome (RLS), 60% also had bruxism (grinding teeth during sleep). They found that 52% had RLS, bruxism, and migraines.
Do you relate?
The lead neurologist for this study speculated there is a gene that links these conditions.
It gets more interesting. Both restless legs syndrome and bruxism are involuntary movements occurring during sleep. Is bruxism “restless jaw syndrome?”
I’m always happy to see more research about TMJ-related issues, especially because there are so many factors that play a role in jaw dysfunction and pain.
More about bruxism.
Bruxism includes clenching and grinding the teeth. Some distinguish these as “waking bruxism” and “sleep bruxism”.
They may have different causes, in my opinion.
Sleep bruxism, in contrast to daytime clenching, is hard to treat because it occurs when unaware of your behavior and unable to change it.
Waking bruxism is a habit that can change with awareness and practice. I’ve helped many clenchers learn how to relax their mouth position.
Some things I’ve noted about bruxism in my manual therapy practice:
Many people don’t know they grind during sleep until a dentist tells them they have damaged teeth.
Bruxism often requires expensive dental work: mouthguards or splints to prevent further damage, and crowns to fortify cracked or broken teeth.
Sometimes the noise of grinding during sleep is loud enough to wake up family members, and that’s how people learn they have sleep bruxism.
People who grind at night often wake up with jaw, face, or neck pain, earaches, and/or headaches.
Over time, bruxism can damage the temporomandibular joints, possibly requiring surgery.
Dentists and jaw issues.
Many people expect dentists to be experts on jaw issues, yet their domain is treating the teeth and gums.
Learning about TMJ disorders is not required in dental school.
General practice dentists can prevent further tooth damage with appliances like mouthguards and splints. They can repair existing tooth damage.
Some dentists may try to adjust the positioning of the TMJs, and a few dentists also address airway issues (like sleep apnea, which also may accompany sleep bruxism) in their work.
Dentists do not address stress or tension in the jaw muscles, which contribute so much to jaw pain.
Some dentists and hygienists in the Austin area refer people with jaw pain or issues opening wide to me. (New alternative to manual therapy during the COVID pandemic: my upcoming online course, Self-Help for Jaw Pain.)
Solutions to try.
If you grind your teeth during sleep, it is possible to stop by using hypnotherapy and EFT.
I don’t know if it works for everyone, but it’s soothing — I always fall asleep before it ends. Less stress is always desirable.
As mentioned above, dopamine agonists are prescribed for low dopamine levels.
Dopamine is released when your brain is expecting a reward — when you anticipate a pleasurable activity such as eating a delicious meal, spending time with someone you love, or receiving a big check.
It’s sometimes called “the happy hormone” because it affects your enthusiasm, motivation, and focus.
If you suffer from bruxism, before going the pharmaceutical route with dopamine agonist drugs, you may want to consider nutrition — consuming foods or taking supplements that raise your dopamine levels.
In particular the amino acid tyrosine increases dopamine.
When I started doing distance sessions at the beginning of the COVID lockdown in March, I would feel energy pouring out of my hands just as I would when doing bodywork with someone in my office, even though the receivers were now at a distance, sometimes in other states.
I didn’t know what to do with it at first with no body in front of me, but I definitely understood it was an indication of me being in a resourced state for healing.
In the 27-hour intensive course I just completed in Long Distance Healing, the instructors called this phenomenon “energy hands”.
It’s fairly common for bodyworkers to experience this energy flowing out their hands, especially when the type of bodywork they practice includes deep listening with their hands, as do craniosacral therapy and Reiki, or if they are also trained in some types of yoga or meditation that cultivate this kind of awareness.
(By the way, distance healing is not craniosacral therapy, which always includes physical touch, but some craniosacral skills transfer over to distance healing.)
With my distance receivers, I started placing my energized hands on the area of the body the receiver had identified as wanting attention. Usually these identified areas are experiencing some form of disconnect from the healthier parts of the body.
Receivers would begin to feel sensations of change in that area: for example, the area would change shape, color, or temperature, pain would lessen or disappear, tension would soften, and sensations would become more diffuse, possibly move to another area, or even bounce around (“Hey, you’re finally looking at me! Yippee!”).
Although our bodies are constantly healing themselves below our level of awareness, in these sessions, receivers sense the healing as it occurs.
To be clear, I don’t heal you. Your own cellular intelligence is the healing power. I show up for you in a resourced state (built on years of yoga, meditation, and studies in how healing works), which your system can entrain to. I show up with presence, curiosity, and some suggestions, as an ally and a witness, with an intent (shared with you) for healing to take place, but no agenda about how that will happen, because it’s your body, your history, your awareness, and your healing.
I have not yet worked with anyone who did not experience a change for the better. I’ve worked with people trying their first energy healing session after Western medicine was unable to help, and I’ve worked with people who are deeply experienced in their own somatic awareness.
We practiced with partners during the training, placing energy hands on our partner’s shoulders and having them say when they felt them and whether they wanted the touch to be more intense or diffuse, and then disconnecting and switching partners.
We also did this with the adrenals, which pump adrenaline and cortisol into our systems, since most of us are feeling some stress and anxiety because of COVID, the economy, our culture, the future, etc.
When my partner held my adrenals, after about a minute, I felt my autonomic nervous system down-regulate into a deeper parasympathetic (rest and digest) state.
That’s another benefit of working with energy hands. I can put my energy hands inside your body, not just on the skin.
I want to do more distance healing sessions. These sessions are collaborative, empowering, use a lot of dialogue, and are based on consent. I cannot do anything to you that you do not allow.
If you’re wondering what it’s about and would like to try it, I’m offering sessions on a donation basis for a limited time. Look at what it’s worth to you, what you can afford, and donate accordingly.
After half an hour, if you don’t think it’s doing anything for you, we’ll end the session without your donation.
It’s so sweet to see how this new change in direction is turning out!
I’ve now worked with a couple of people whom I’ve never met. I wondered what it would be like.
Doing just one hands-on session with someone creates a relationship, a history, a shared experience, an energy field based on mutual intent for healing. The distance sessions I’ve done with people I know have worked out well, and I’ve attributed that to “Well, we’re familiar. We know each other. We’ve already established a field of trust.”
What would it be like to do a session, over the phone, with someone halfway across the U.S. whom I’ve never met?
I’m happy to report that, just as for hands-on sessions with people I know, these long distance sessions have also worked out well.
I listen with full attention. Sometimes I have a clue about what’s going on in their body-mind system, and sometimes I don’t. Either way, having the person relax and scan their body helps identify a location that wants attention.
From there, I ask questions that help the person engage in listening and communicating with that location.
I’ve recently encountered this quote:
Attention is the most basic form of love. Through it we bless and are blessed.
~ John Tarrant
That’s really the key, giving attention.
Sometimes people may be in pain, which is a signal that something needs attention.
Sometimes people feel stuck emotionally, for example, feeling anxiety before an important meeting.
Sometimes people simply need more resources to help them get through these extraordinary times.
Sometimes memories they’ve repressed emerge.
We work toward some kind of resolution, even if we don’t know what it is at first.
It could be feeling less pain.
It could be feeling some clarity about a situation.
It could be finding new images, even a vision, that gives someone courage and strength to move ahead.
It could be integrating traumatic memories from childhood with the resources of an adult.
However a distance session takes place, it’s always an adventure.
Siri Scull, certified hypnotist, coach, and nutritionist, and I (MaryAnn Reynolds, LMT, board certified in therapeutic massage and bodywork, provider of TMJ relief sessions) are offering a free class on April 1, 7:30-8:45 pm at Soma Vida.
This (optional) class serves as an introduction to our 4-class series offered remotely via Zoom on April 8, 15, 22, and 29 at the same time period.
This 4-class series includes: ~ Hypnotic visualizations to help you unwind tightness ~ Specialized exercises and techniques to soften the jaw ~ Nutritional & supplement suggestions to promote relaxation ~ Best sleep practices to promote a relaxed jaw ~ Ongoing support as you change habits on a conscious and unconscious level
The tuition is $149 for the 4-class series taught over Zoom. Save $25 if you bring a friend! You may pay MaryAnn via PayPal (paypal.me/maryannreynolds) or Venmo (www.venmo.com/MaryAnn-Reynolds-1) at the April 1st meeting or before April 8 to secure your spot.
Class is taught by Mary Ann Reynolds, MS, LMT, board certified in therapeutic massage and bodywork, providing TMJ Relief sessions and packages, AND Siri Scull, NC CHt, certified Hypnotherapist, Coach, and Nutritional Counselor specializing in habit change.