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For many, January is a month of setting goals. For some, this means deciding to lead a healthier lifestyle. Usually these goals involve what you eat and how much you exercise–but did you think about your sleep health? At Andolino Orthodontics, we know that getting adequate sleep can help not only your overall health, but your mouth health, as well! We have touched on good sleep habits before, but here is a more in-depth look at how sleep affects our health.

In terms of your overall health, you have probably noticed that being sleep-deprived can make you grumpy, forgetful, or prone to making mistakes. This is because of how your brain is affected by lack of sleep: many areas of the brain, including the amygdala, hippocampus, and neocortex, are significantly impaired. Together, these areas of the brain mediate emotional, cognitive, and memory functions. A lack of sleep makes it very difficult for these processes to function properly.

A lack of quality sleep can also negatively affect your mouth health. It can cause inflammation in the soft tissues in your mouth, particularly the gums. In a 2010 study, the Emory School of Medicine found an increase of inflammatory hormones among sleep-deprived subjects. One inflammatory marker, the C-reactive protein, was found to be 25% higher in sleep deprived patients (6 or fewer hours) than those who had gotten a healthy amount of sleep (7-9 hours for most healthy adults). These increased inflammatory hormones put you at risk for heart disease and stroke, as well as periodontitis, or swelling of the gums. In fact, a recent study from the Osaka University Graduate School of Medicine concluded that sleep deprivation among their subjects was the number 2 cause of swelling of periodontitis (the number 1 cause was smoking). Swelling of gum tissue can be damaging to your general mouth health as well as your orthodontic treatment.

Adequate and restful sleep can reduce symptoms of TMD, or temporomandibular joint disorder (also referred to as TMJ). Adequate sleep can also help you manage stress better, reducing tension in your jaw. Meditation and other relaxing activities just before bedtime may also help you get better quality sleep. If you struggle with managing stress, contact our office for our basic meditation guide.

For more information, contact Dr. Frank Andolino’s office in New York, New York, at 212-753-5575.