a man laying awake and on his back in his bed

Fighting My Insomnia by Doing a 180 – Literally

I used to love bedtime – many, many moons ago. I loved everything about it. Snuggling into the sheets, bringing the quilt up to cover my entire head, and finding that perfect position was so satisfying. And the pillows, oh, the pillows!

I would flop onto my stomach, smash my face into my favorite one, and draw my hands underneath my body – ready for sweet dreams. As it turns out, my favorite sleeping position was doing nothing for me. It’s really too bad, too. I loved sleeping on my stomach.

Looking for answers for my teeth clenching

Last summer, after many sleepless nights and noticing I was clenching my teeth, I began researching temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders. I was experiencing some discomfort in my jaw and had more than a few times noticed I was grinding my teeth on and off even throughout the day.

In addition, I felt my jaw pop when chewing gum. Not sure if it was related to my insomnia, I thought TMJ was worth checking into, and the dentist seemed the logical place to start my search for answers.

TMJ and sleep habits

After a routine examination and a peek at my molars, my dentist agreed that the condition of my back teeth and the experiences I described all seemed to point to TMJ. Feeling somewhat validated, I listened as my dentist began to list all the things I needed to change.

Unfortunately, my sleep habits were high on the list. I don’t know that I was surprised – after all, I did have my suspicions about a connection between TMJ and my sleeplessness. I was, however, disappointed to find that my favorite sleep position was the first thing to go.

You want me to sleep how?

Make no mistake, my dentist plainly stated that stomach sleeping is the worst. That’s almost a direct quote, folks. But, gosh, it’s so cozy. I guess I can see how lying facedown night after night might not be the best idea.

As comfortable as I am when I do manage to drift off, I tend to wake up with an achy neck. The stiffness in my jaws should have been a clue long before this trip to the dentist. What’s the old adage? With age comes wisdom? I guess it’s coming, just not at a fast enough clip for me. I feel like I should have seen this coming.

The struggle to adopt a new sleep position

What I didn’t see coming was how difficult it would be to start sleeping on my back at night. After a lifetime of falling asleep on my stomach, face smashed into the pillow, I was now going to have to acquaint myself with a whole new side of the bedroom.

I was going to have to try to drift off staring at the ceiling and hope against hope I could keep myself from turning over in the night. Fully expecting my insomnia to be at an all-time high, I ventured into uncharted waters. After a week or so of fighting to sleep, I gave in and took to online forums.

Introducing a contour pillow into my sleep routine

I did a little research on stabilizing my head and trying to keep my neck comfortable. For this stomach-sleeper, it all sounded like pure torture. Strangely enough, I found solace in a contour pillow. I know! They look like abominations, don’t they?

I was completely taken aback when I used mine for the first time. The groove that cradles the neck looks like it would be incredibly uncomfortable, but it actually does its job quite well.

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My new best friend...maybe

After several months of getting to know my contour pillow, I find that I seek out that groove and almost – yes, almost – have that same cozy feeling toward it that I had toward stomach sleeping not that long ago.

Once I am nestled in bed with my head in place, I don’t think too much about turning over. It’s been an enlightening experience, to say the least. I’m, by no means, cured of my insomnia, but I am making strides and eliminating causes. It’s too bad I am having to do it on my back...sigh…

Have you tried a different pillow or changed mattresses in hopes of better sleep? Tell us about your experience in the comment section.

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