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An easy bedtime routine that helped me sleep better

A quick, three-step regimen that took 20 minutes at night helped me with my migraines, neck discomfort, and shoulder pain.

By event zeePublished 5 months ago 3 min read

Since I can remember, I have lived with teeth grinding and have always worn mouth guards to prevent wearing my teeth. I never experienced sleeplessness or anything like that, but it was certain that I would wake up with a headache and jaw discomfort as stressful situations occurred throughout my life. Additionally, doing a 9 to 5 job while seated and staring at a screen all day is bad for the neck and shoulders; as a result, mine are frequently uncomfortable.

For a life with fewer (or no) headaches, exercising regularly, drinking coffee only in the morning, having an ergonomic workspace, and avoiding stressful tasks at the end of the day were important. However, up until I had to write my monograph (which involved coding, writing, collecting data, processing data, etc.), I hadn't given some advice for getting more sleep much thought.

Despite being under a great deal of stress, I rarely had headaches or painful jaws when I woke up most days. I still follow this routine, and when I don't, I typically regret it because I start to feel sore in places where I wouldn't have felt them if I had been following my 20-minute regimen.

This exercise is based on the stretching-heating-massaging method (not necessarily always in this order). The heat relieves some of the tension released by the stretch, the massage (at least for me) is more relaxing after the heat.

Stretch the neck, shoulders, and jaw

This one doesn't even take five minutes, but you'll see the change right away. I occasionally hunt for more complicated stretches, but most of the time I stick to the fundamentals:

  • Neck flexion to one side, holding for 30 seconds on each side;
  • 5 times clockwise, then counterclockwise, turn the neck;
  • One time with each arm, bring the arm across the front of the body at roughly chest height and hold it there for 30 seconds;
  • 10-15 times, fully and slowly open and close the jaw.

Apply heat-especially in the neck and jaw

I generally get my thermal bag ready before stretching so I can administer heat to the sore spots. I stretch, then place the bag on my neck (which was the sorest part of my body that day), and as it starts to get a little cooler, I place it on my face (a little on each side of the mandible and my forehead). Usually, 2 minutes on each sensitive area (or hurting spot) can already make a difference.

Massage in the sore places

It depends on the day, but I always enjoy rubbing my face, shoulders, and neck with my hands or a massager. There are numerous specialized massages in the mandibular region designed to treat teeth grinding. The massages that work best for me are as follows:

  • Massage the lower jaw on both sides in circles, going clockwise and counterclockwise;
  • Put a little extra pressure behind my jaw, right below my ears, while making circles;
  • Move your hands up and down while massaging your jaws.

Choose a movement that feels comfortable in the moment for each area, repeat it for 30 to 1 minute, and do it at least three times: once for the face, once for the arms and shoulders, and once for the neck.

Extra: avoid screens at least for one hour (more, if possible) before sleep

Probably the most difficult item on this list, and the one for which I long ignored it. But it's a major development.

Even though I wouldn't plan demanding tasks like going over my teacher's notes in the evening, it's possible that I would receive a message or email that would keep me thinking about what I should be doing or making plans on how to complete it.

That was an issue for me because I don't have the energy or willpower to complete a task adequately in the last hour of the day, so it seems very evident that I should just be relaxing for the next day-that was previously scheduled.

I continue to do this every day to relieve tension and to attempt to sleep more deeply-I give myself an hour to unwind anyway I like, free from any obligations or distractions.

This essay discussed a very easy to adopt 20-minute nighttime regimen that enhanced my sleep, especially in light of the negative effects of daily computer use and having bruxism/teeth grinding. This habit has helped me sleep better, which has enhanced the quality of my life during a particularly stressful time.

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