Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Locked jaw while sleeping - is that bad?"
I have always had problems falling asleep in class and church no matter how hard I tried to stay awake. Recently, I started dreaming during those times, and my jaw has started to tighten/lock during the times I have fallen asleep. Today it felt like my whole face tightened up. Is this bad?
Sorry to hear about your problems and I recommend that you speak with your doctor and dentist. Falling asleep in abnormal places and without complete control over your ability to fall asleep can be a sign of bigger problems. One of the most common, especially among those who are overweight, and even more among those who are overweight AND snore, is the diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA. In this condition, a person is unable to sleep restfully because their airway becomes blocked by soft tissue when the muscles of their mouth and throat relax. This requires waking up, partially, to take a deep breath in order to remain alive. It can be scary for the partners of those who sleep with these people. With regards to your jaw tightening, this can be a sign of stress and anxiety, and may be a sign of TMJ disorder. In this condition, people will often grind or clench their teeth at night, resulting in ear or hemifacial pain throughout the day. It can be confused with a number of different symptoms, but is fortunately easy to treat for most people. It may require speaking with your dentist to fit a bite block or something to wear while you sleep. Please speak with your doctor and dentist.
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