TMJ, teeth grinding, jaw clenching, and tension can all lead to clenching jaws or jaw pain that interferes with sleep and with everyday life. This relaxation script will help to decrease clenching of the jaw by guiding you to release the muscles that lead to jaw tension, and will guide you to fall asleep free from tension.
Areas where tension tends to build need to be relaxed often, deliberately, to undo the habitual tensing that occurs. During this relaxation script, I will remind you several times to release the tension in your jaw and reduce jaw clenching. It is normal if you find at first that your jaw relaxes and then gets tense again. Jaw clenching can recur several times while you are relaxing, but the reminders will help you to teach your body to relax this area. By relaxing over and over, jaw clenching can be decreased eventually by creating a new habit of relaxed muscles.
Let’s begin the relaxation to decrease jaw clenching. Get comfortable, finding a position that will allow you to relax and go to sleep. Adjust your position as needed to allow yourself to start to relax.
You may want to close your eyes.
Take a deep breath in, through your nose. Exhale fully through your mouth.
Breathe in… and slowly out.
In…. and out.
Keep breathing slowly like this, smooth… deep breaths. Allow your breathing to calm and center you.
As you breathe calmly, you can turn your attention gradually from the external to the internal.
Start by observing your external environment. The sounds around you… the room you are in… the feel of your clothes on your body… the surface you are on. Take in the details of the your surroundings.
Now start to turn your attention inward. Notice your body…. your thoughts…. Focus completely on your internal world. If you were to rate the physical tension you are experiencing right now, overall, what number would you rate the tension at, between 0 and 10? Where in your body is the tension stored? Do you have one area that is the most tense? How about the least tense? Where is your body the most relaxed? Just spend the next few moments focusing on how you are feeling right now.
Focus specifically now on your jaw. Is there any jaw clenching happening right now? Don’t try to change this yet – just observe.
Now let the tension go, and allow your jaw to slacken. Does your jaw feel more relaxed now?
This time, tense your jaw, just a little. Hold your teeth together with just enough pressure that you can feel a slight tension in the muscles of your jaw. Do not tighten to the point of discomfort. Simply maintain a comfortable, steady pressure. Notice how the muscles on the sides of your face and jaw are tight, firm, and tense. Hold this mild tension for a few moments, noticing how it feels.
Now allow some of the tension to leave, very slowly…. so slowly, your jaws are becoming ever so slightly more relaxed. Let your muscles get a little softer…. a bit looser…. until your teeth are still touching, but with no pressure at all. You almost cannot tell if your teeth are in contact with each other, because they are touching so lightly. Notice how the muscles of your jaw are maintaining some tension. They are still firm because they are keeping a hold on your jaw, this very specific amount. Observe this state… your jaw is not yet relaxed, the muscles are holding onto some tension, but your jaws are not tight. This very specific jaw clenching is not comfortable or relaxed, but not painful either. A neutral state of moderate tension.
Now tense your jaw again, so that you are holding your teeth together with some pressure. The muscles of your jaw are tight, but not too tight. Tense, but not painful. Hold this tension, feeling how tight the muscles hold your jaw. Jaw clenching firmly.
And now, relax, letting the tension leave your jaw all at once, so completely, that your lower jaw drops lower until your teeth are not touching. It is as if your lower jaw is simply floating. Your muscles are completely loose… feel the free, relaxed feeling in the muscles of your face and jaw.
You may even feel your lips part slightly, allowing your jaw to just hang loosely. No jaw clenching at all.
Now open your mouth wider, as wide as is comfortable. You might even want to yawn. Stretch the muscles of your face and mouth as you open your mouth wide.
Now relax, letting your mouth close loosely and comfortably. You will be holding your mouth now in a relaxed position, no jaw clenching at all, with your teeth slightly apart, your lips barely touching, and your muscles loose and relaxed. This is the way your body can learn to hold your jaw. From this point forth, when you hear the phrase “relax your jaw,” you can comfortably and easily let your lower jaw hang loosely in this position.
Take a moment to notice this feeling of relaxation in your jaw.
Now let’s relax the rest of your body. Starting at the top of your head, allow a feeling of relaxation to grow. Feel your scalp relaxing first, a tingly feeling of relaxation that spreads down… to your forehead and the back of your head… the sides of your head and your ears… moving down now, down your face…. eyes, nose, mouth, chin. Your cheeks feel very relaxed. Loose, limp and relaxed. Feel your lips softening and relaxing. Completely letting go of tension.
Feel the relaxation continue, letting your neck and shoulders relax. As your shoulders lower into a relaxed position, feel your jaw relaxing too. Relax your jaw. Lower your jaw and your shoulders together, relaxing them both. Feel the muscles completely giving up their hold.
The feeling of relaxation continues. Feel your upper back relaxing. Feel your chest relaxing as well, all the way from your shoulders and collar bones, down to the bottom of your ribcage, and your sides. Feel your middle back relax… the muscles letting go, relaxing completely. Let your stomach, sides, and lower back relax as well. Feel the relaxation through the core of your body. Warm and heavy. Calm and relaxed.
Allow your arms to relax, becoming very heavy. Feel any tension from your upper body flowing from your shoulders, down your arms, all the way to your hands, and draining out your finger tips and away. Your arms relax from the shoulders, to your upper arms, elbows, lower arms, wrists, and hands. Your arms are very heavy and relaxed.
Relax your jaw. Let the muscles loosen and give up their hold. No tension. No jaw clenching. Simply relaxed and loose. Relax.
Now let your lower body relax. The area of your hips relaxes as you feel the relaxation moving from your lower back and down… all the way to your upper legs… your knees…. lower legs… and feet. Feel any remaining tension flow out through your toes, draining away, leaving your body. Leaving only a feeling of relaxation and calm. Your legs are very heavy and relaxed.
Your whole body is relaxed now. Allow the relaxation to deepen. Relax your jaw. Floating… relaxing.
Just relax now, luxuriating in this calm, peaceful feeling.
Relax your jaw. Deliberately let your lower jaw drop into a free, relaxed position. Relax any other areas in your body that are tense. Feel all the tension just draining away…. A feeling of deep relaxation remains. Calm…. peaceful…. relaxed.
Over the next few moments, you can just relax and rest as you fall asleep. Allow yourself to drift off as you become more and more deeply relaxed. Relax your jaw once more, feeling the complete relaxation there as you relax even more deeply.
A sleepy feeling of heaviness spreads throughout your body…. feel yourself sinking into the surface you are on… sinking deeper… softly surrounded by relaxation.
Your arms are so heavy…. and your legs are very heavy. Even your thoughts are heavy…. relaxed…. deeply relaxed and calm.
You are so warm… so sleepy… as if everything is slowing down…. so peaceful…. so calm….
Relaxing ever more deeply.
I’ll count now from 1 to 5. When I reach 5 you will be deeply asleep. Feel yourself drifting off to sleep, closer and closer to deep sleep with each number.