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How Your Tongue Affects Your Sleep

By Emily Lindholm

Your posture is important for the functionality of the body, movement, and pain management, but did you know that this includes your tongue as well?  If you've never heard of tongue posture, welcome to the club!  I only began to learn about it recently after a new dentist told me that I have a tongue tie, which has a major effect on sleep.  Turns out that I have had sleep issues for years and had no idea it was related to my tongue!  Hopefully, after reading this, you'll have a better idea whether or not your tongue is taking the correct posture when you sleep.

The Role of the Tongue

Our tongues are in motion a lot during the day, helping us talk, chew, and swallow, but our tongues play a much bigger role than most of us are aware of.  Our tongues have an influence on how we breathe and sleep too.  

The tongue must be functioning properly or else it can disrupt our airways.  This is one reason why it's important for the tongue to have a full range of motion.  At night, the tongue should maintain a particular position in your mouth to help you sleep.  There's actually a huge connection between the tongue and our nervous system.

Proper Tongue Posture While Sleeping

Pay attention to where your tongue rests while you're in bed.  It should be resting at the roof of your mouth, particularly behind the front top teeth.  In fact, there's a connection happening in that area behind the teeth when the tongue is resting there.  By making this connection, it helps signal the release of dopamine and serotonin.  Make sure that tongue is relaxed when resting there and not strained.  If you find that the tongue is being pulled back away from the roof of the mouth, this can present problems, such as:

  • Mouth tension
  • Teeth grinding
  • Sleep disorders
  • Swallowing with the wrong muscles
  • Mouth breathing at night
  • Neck and shoulder tension

Mobilizing the Tongue

Just as it's healthy to move our bodies, it's also beneficial to exercise the tongue!  Not only can tongue exercises help it maintain this important sleeping posture, but they can improve our breathing and digestion as well.  If the tongue is not functioning properly, it can restrict our chewing abilities and even our mouth airways.  If you find that you may need help with tongue posture, you can find videos online to show you how to properly work the tongue muscles.  Most people who have had improper tongue movement and alignment also have neck and shoulder tension.  In this case, it is wise to consult a chiropractor.  

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Santa Rosa, Calif.  

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