When we sleep, we require steady oxygen absorption to maintain body function and to heal. When we do not receive enough oxygen while we rest, the lack of oxygen will interfere with this healing process. All the cells within our bodies require adenosine triphosphate (ATP), a molecule that carries energy. A majority of ATP is created by breaking down oxygen. When there is a lack of oxygen in the body, our muscle cells convert remaining glucose, or sugar, into lactic acid. When too much lactic acid is produced, muscles will have a difficult time contracting and result in significant discomfort.
The pain we experience in the muscles near our jaw can be related to a lack of oxygen we are absorbing while sleeping. If there is a blockage in our airway or nasal sinuses, this can create a disturbance in the oxygen we breathe in and absorb while at rest. Depending on the severity of the airway obstruction, you may experience some or many symptoms. For instance, many people report noticing that they grind their teeth at night. When the brain registers the body is not absorbing enough oxygen, we often start grinding the teeth to move our jaw forward and open the airway. By doing this subconsciously, we overwork our jaw muscles. This creates an uncomfortable aching in our jaws when we wake up from sleeping.
When there is noticeable teeth grinding present, it usually accompanies popping or clicking of the TMJ joints. Because our jaws are working overtime while we are at rest, it will also put a heavy strain on these joints. If we continue to grind the teeth and miss out on our needed oxygen intake, we strain not only our teeth and TMJ, but our entire bodies as well. This includes a slow decline in our mental clarity, organ function, and musculature. Unfortunately, people will not realize the lack of oxygen absorption being a problem until the damage is done. This makes observing our quality of sleep vital to ensuring we age as gracefully and oxygenated as possible.