SleepGuard Biofeedback Review

SleepGuard Review

Review: The SleepGuard from Holistic Technologies
Official website:
Price: Between $295 and $395

This SleepGuard review is based on my personal experience with the SleepGuard headband itself, clinical research studies related to the principles behind it, and experience of a few other people who have written about it. The headband apparently got rave reviews on a national morning TV show “RTL Punkt 6” in Germany[1] (which is like the German version of Good Morning America) , but since I don’t speak German, I have not contacted any of the people involved with that study. One thing I will say to start with is that I found the customer service of this company to be exceptional. It took me a while to realize that the unit I first received had an unusual defect – in fact I didn’t know it was a defect until I communicated with the manufacturer. They were amazed I had put up with the problem and fixed it immediately. So if you wind up trying the biofeedback headband and you have any problems, definitely contact the manufacturer. I will discuss this in detail later in this review.

The SleepGuard Biofeedback Overview

The SleepGuard website states: “The SleepGuard biofeedback headband provides a gradual, gentle audio reminder to relax each time it senses that you are clenching your teeth, allowing you to learn your way out of your clenching habit while remaining asleep.”

While clenching or grinding may have become habitual for some (the theory being that for some people the sensation of clenching is soothing to some part of the subconscious – like thumb-sucking for kids or pencil chewing or nail biting for adults), for others clenching or grinding may go away if a causal factor is removed (like a food one is allergic to or a stressful situation or a drug being used).

Prior to SleepGuard, research on biofeedback during sleep to reduce bruxism showed that for most people, if biofeedback is discontinued after 30 days, teeth grinding returns to its original levels. [2] [3] I corresponded with SleepGuard to ask what percentage of people they found got lasting relief after only using the device for a couple of months and then discontinuing use, and they said it is a small percentage (like 2%), so their results seem to support the prior research. In any case, whether you are kicking a habit that happens in sleep or finding the cause of non-habitual bruxism, it is likely to take some time, and relief along the way would be welcome, even if that relief requires continuing to wear the headband during sleep for many months. The clinical studies, customer ratings on various websites, and testimonials are are evidence that SleepGuard has been providing this relief for a lot of people. Since the manufacturer offers a 21-day free trial and a 30-day money-back guarantee, I decided to try it myself.

I had heard that SleepGuard is easy for some people to use, and not so easy for other people to use, so I decided to investigate this. The most common issue turned out to be related to keeping the sensors in contact with your skin, because if they lose contact the unit will beep when it shouldn’t. The next most common issue has to do with what muscles you use when you clench. I will cover both of these possible issues in this review. Lastly it is possible that you get a unit that is not functioning right, so I will also cover a few things to be aware of that should not happen, and what to do if they do happen.

How to figure out whether it will detect your clenching

In order to figure out whether it is likely the SleepGuard unit can help you, you can do a simple test to find out what muscles you clench with. First test for the temporalis muscles: put your fingertips at your temples when your jaw is relaxed and press lightly. Then clench and feel whether muscle fibers tighten under the skin your fingertips are pressed against. If you feel muscle fibers tighten, you use your temporalis muscles during clenching, and SleepGuard should be able to detect that.

If you don’t feel muscle fibers tighten at your temples, the next muscles to check are the masseter muscles. Place your fingertips on your face just behind your back teeth (molars) and press lightly while your jaw is relaxed, and then clench briefly. If you feel the muscle bulge, you use your masseter muscles while clenching, and SleepGuard should be able to detect your clenching using extended sensor pads.

The muscles of mastication (chewing muscles) are shown below. The temporalis, masseter, and medial pterygoid muscles provide the force that clench the teeth together. The lateral pterygoid muscles are used to move the jaw back and forth and from side to side.

Muscles of mastication
If you can’t feel either your masseter muscles or your temporalis muscles tighten while you clench, you are clenching entirely with your medial pterygoid muscles, and SleepGuard can’t reliably detect that.

Differences between grinding and clenching

Although grinding and clenching are both classified as bruxism, beyond the obvious physical difference that grinding includes rubbing away enamel from your teeth, and clenching does not, there may be some significant neurological differences between grinding and clenching. It was discovered in the 1970s that grinding (known in the literature as Rhythmic Masticating Motion, or RMM for short) often results from a micro-arousal during sleep. [4] Whereas clenching seems to be more of a stress response which often becomes habitual during sleep.

The most significant problem that grinding usually results in is worn tooth enamel. Although some grinders clench hard, many do not. Whereas clenchers often clench very hard, resulting in inflamed roots of teeth (sometimes requiring root canal), inflamed structures in the temporomandibular joint, migraines, and many forms of referred pain from muscle trigger points.

The micro-arousals that trigger grinding can either be something within a dream a person is having, or something external (like a noise or a bright flash of light). At first when I read this I was concerned that the biofeedback sound might trigger grinding, but biofeedback research [2] [3] and reviews written by customers indicates that is not the case. The difference between the micro-arousal research and the biofeedback research appears to be that if the person knows what a sound (heard in sleep) means and how to respond to it, they can respond the way they want to, whereas if they don’t know what the sound is, it triggers part of the sympathetic nervous system[5] (fight or flight response), just like a bad dream does, which can result in grinding.

SleepGuard may be better for clenching than for grinding

Although the biofeedback sound starts within tenths of a second of when clenching or grinding begins, it may take you one or two seconds in your sleep to respond, so if you are a grinder rather than a clencher, while SleepGuard may enable you may to reduce your enamel wear, you won’t cut it to zero. So if you are a grinder you might want to count on SleepGuard mainly to prevent migraines and other TMJ-related pain, and use a mouth guard to prevent wearing down your teeth. To be fair though, if you are a grinder who can’t stand to wear a mouth guard, or who takes the mouth guard out subconsciously during sleep, SleepGuard may be the best solution because although it won’t reduce your enamel wear to zero, it can help you cut it down significantly.

Sleep laboratory studies have shown that clenching episodes tend to happen immediately after the deep sleep phase. This is usually when we are dreaming, thus the dream we are having is likely to have our attention and it may take us longer to react to another stimulus (such as the biofeedback sound of the SleepGuard unit). In addition, people who grind (like people who snore) learn to ignore the sounds they are making, so they don’t wake themselves up. This explains why most people who suffer from sleep bruxism are not aware of it until someone (like a roommate or a dentist) informs them.

The SleepGuard unit does not detect bruxism for ALL users

As I mentioned above, as it is standardly configured, the SleepGuard headband detects temporalis (at the temples) muscle tension (to detect clenching and grinding), and frontalis muscle tension (to help prevent tension headaches). But what if you clench with different muscles? There are three muscles that can clench the teeth together: the temporalis (at the temples), the masseter (between the back molars and the jaw joint), and the medial pterygoid (inside the jaw, next to the tongue). The SleepGuard unit as it comes when you order it can detect the temporalis (which gets used for clenching along with the masseter in most people), and with added extended sensor pads (which cost $25 extra) it can detect the masseter muscles, but if you are one of a small percentage of people who clench only with their medial pterygoid (which includes most front-teeth-only clenchers), the headband can’t detect that muscle, because it is inside the jaw bone.

Better sleep or worse sleep?

As mentioned above, research suggests that teeth grinding at night is correlated with micro-arousals during a light dream state of sleep [4]. During a micro-arousal, the brain becomes slightly more “awake” than it was the moment before, but not fully awake. The micro-arousals may be from moments of fear within the dream. Light sleepers may become more “awake” than other sleepers during a micro-arousal that accompanies bruxism, and the added effect of hearing the biofeedback sound may wake a light sleeper without that person being able to stop grinding before awakening. So if you are a very light sleeper, you may not sleep as well with the SleepGuard headband.

On the other hand, if you are a serious clencher and your REM sleep is being compromised by your clenching, you may actually sleep better if you are able to reduce your clenching significantly with the SleepGuard headband.

SleepGuard emphasizes in their instruction manual the importance of doing a couple of minutes of daytime conditioning each day to build up a part of your subconscious mind that will instinctively and reliably respond to the biofeedback. Given that you don’t want to cause micro-arousals in your sympathetic nervous system, I think the daytime practice is important.

What if it beeps when it shouldn’t beep?

The SleepGuard unit picks up EMG muscle signals through two conductive rubber sensor pads which are positioned partly on the outer edges of the forehead and partly on the temples. So it picks up frontalis muscle tension (like raising eyebrows) as well as temporalis muscle tension (which is part of clenching for most people). The contact between the sensor pads and the skin needs to remain moist through the night for this to work properly, and if your skin is dry or oily, or if you roll around in your sleep a lot, one of the pads can disconnect. If this happens, the unit picks up electronic signals from the air and it thinks you are clenching, so it beeps. If this happens a lot, your subconscious mind probably won’t trust that the sound means anything, and you will have a harder time benefiting.

The manufacturer recommends that you wipe your forehead and temples with a damp cloth and then put on the unit with your skin still moist. For many people this works fine, but if you move a lot in your sleep you may get some false beeping unless you use the optional conductive adhesive gel pads. The gel pads definitely give a more reliable connection, so I recommend using them during the three days when you measure your starting (baseline) level of clenching (which is done with the biofeedback sound turned off). Otherwise you may get some disconnections that get counted as clenches, and you won’t know it, because the unit is in silent mode during baseline measurement.

After I started using the unit in biofeedback mode, I found that I didn’t need the gel pads for a good connection, but I have heard that some people do. I have also heard that some people’s skin puts out oil at night that disconnects the unit in the middle of the night. If that happens to you, I recommend contacting the manufacturer to extend your money-back guarantee or free trial, and if they can’t help you work out a solution, return your unit, because having a good connection is vital to benefiting from the biofeedback.

How to know if your SleepGuard unit has a problem

Since my SleepGuard unit had a problem for more than a month before I even realized it was a problem, I want to list here a few things that are not normal behavior, so you will know to contact the manufacturer if any of these things happen with your unit.

SleepGuard Review - Snoring

My first SleepGuard had a vibration sensitivity defect, and at first I couldn’t understand what was going on, because one morning the screen showed 89 clenching counts and on others only 12. That’s when my wife told me the headband kept beeping when I was snoring. I checked with the manufacturer and they said that behavior indicated the unit was defective. They repaired it at no charge and reimbursed me for my postage. I learned from them that a day-to-day variation (in number of bruxism events) of a factor of three can be normal, a variation of a factor of more than 7 (which is what I saw) probably indicates a problem (unless the variation is between a night with the unit in silent mode and a night with the unit in biofeedback mode).

SleepGuard units should not be sensitive to vibration, but there are other things besides clenching that use jaw muscles, so those things can make the unit sound briefly. Non-clenching activities that use jaw muscles include swallowing, and yawning.

In Conclusion

My recommendation is that if you regularly experience some sort of pain or discomfort from nighttime clenching or grinding, the SleepGuard unit is worth trying. If you just grind and don’t have pain or significant discomfort, I recommend you just stick with a mouth guard.

When you try the SleepGuard biofeedback headband, make sure to read the instructions completely, and make sure to start using it soon after you get it so you have plenty of time to see how well it works for you. It’s not for everyone, it takes some dedication to really benefit from it, so I give it four stars. Some people have gotten rid of significant TMJ pain and discomfort (including migraines) with SleepGuard. I have to say that the customer service is top notch. You really get a sense that Lee Weinstein (the inventor of the SleepGuard headband) is really there to help you.

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Marc Livingston

If you did try the headband, post your SleepGuard review below.


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Average rating:  
 9 reviews
by Jill Barnes on SleepGuard
This headband is giving me my life back

I have suffered form frequent migraines for over 4 years. Drugs have only slightly dulled the pain, and mouth guards made my migraines more frequent. In less than two weeks using this headband, I reduced my nighttime clenching more than 85% in the first two weeks, and my migraines became less and less frequent. Now, after two months of use, I haven't had a migraine in over a month, and my whole life has changed. I am doing much better at work, and I am not afraid to make social plans because now I can actually predict that I will be feeling well!

I highly recommend this headband to anyone who gets migraines and thinks they might be related to teeth clenching.

by Troy C. on SleepGuard
Sorry to Say...

True to the ad, my bruxism were reduced significantly early on. I was seeing a chiro at the same time for neck adjustments. I'd been having terrible spasms; couldn't eat; couldn't talk. They suddenly went away. But they came back just as bad ten days later. After more chiro and CMT plus SleepGuard, I was then free of spasms another 30 days. Now my spasms are coming back -- even with my $300 headband and $800/mon in treatments. Bottom line, it may help some, but, esp. for people like me, who grind in a forward motion, SleepGuard doesn't even register. Tell the truth, according to SleepGuard, I have almost zero clenching, yet my temples are sore and my spasms have returned. Buyer beware.

by Tisha Frazier on SleepGuard
Awesome product

I recently got my sleepguard unit. It alerts me the second I start clenching or grinding. I have tried everything out there and this is the only thing that helped. My bruxism has effected my life in the worst way, causing facial swelling that caused me so much pain and insecurity, it ruined my life. I have seen at least 30 dentists, Doctors, had blood tests for auto immune disease, you name I have tried it. I thank God for stumbling onto this. I highly recommend it.

by Rob on SleepGuard

"Recent researches suggest that teeth grinding at night can be provoked by micro-arousals through sensory stimuli (the noise of an alarm for example)"

If this were true, everyone would have a bruxism problem.
This device can work & significantly decrease your grinding. However, If you have had a TMJ problem misdiagnosed for 20 years (like me) your jaw may be able to outsmart this device. The first 5 days I used it I saw good improvement in my TMJ symptoms (mainly dizziness). But then my jaw found a way to clench without being detected. I tried many different settings - always the same result. It would work for a few days then my jaw would adapt. Ultimately, at the lowest setting my jaw would drop down and push backwards. The headband would not detect this. Supposedly this device can be set up to monitor your masseter muscles. I'm waiting for a response from the owner to see how this can be done. Currently, I am only able to use mid-level detection with rsults. This eliminates harsh clenching but allows moderate clenching.
Ive spent thousands on TMJ dentists and so far they have given me no results. I spent $400 on this device, set it to moderate detection & at least get some relief.

by Cristy on SleepGuard
Sleep Deprived

I feel like my bruxism contributes significantly to my chronic daily headaches and neck pain. I have ground and chipped my teeth, and sometimes wake up with sharp jaw pain. I have tried muscle relaxants, which either didn't work or had intolerable side effects. The night guard protects the teeth, but doesn't stop the muscle contractions. I hoped this biofeedback device was the perfect non-drug solution.

Unfortunately, after about 3 months I have not seen results. I still get consistently beeped over 30 times a night (sometimes up to 70). It may well succeed at interrupting the bruxing, however it does not seem to train me to stop initiating the clenching/grinding. So while I have less jaw pain and tooth soreness, I feel very sleep-deprived. I can sleep 11 hours and still wake up groggy. I think the constant interruptions are not allowing me to have deep sleep and this is taking a real toll on my health.

Indeed I did have 30 days in which I could have returned it, however during that time I still had hope that I could be "trained". Now it seems that I can be trained to interrupt the grinding or to wake up at the beep, but will not be trained to simply not brux. The cost of being constantly sleep-deprived is not worth the little bit of pain relief I get from the device.

by Dana Laggan on SleepGuard
Helps me more than anything else I've ever tried!

If you are looking for something that's absolutely 100% perfect and perfect for everybody at all times, I think that it is an unrealistic goal! I've spent thousands of dollars on bite guards and TMJ doctors, etc. The biteguards make me only clench harder. If you are a heavy clencher like me then I think you'll be extremely pleased with the SleepGuard. At least give it a risk free try! This is truly one of my favorite products in my life and I seriously do not know what I would do without it! I was destroying my teeth/gums/jaw and had horrible pain from clenching. Do I still clench even though wearing the Sleepguard? Yes, but WAYYYYYYYYYYYY less than without. I am a super duper heavy sleeper and super duper clencher...I think pretty much the worst case scenario. My feelings are if it can help me, it can help anybody! I do use a small lightweight rubbery type teeth protector from my dentist to prevent damage from clenching that I still do before the beeping makes me release. This should clear up the concern about teeth damage that the author of this article talks about.There's nothing to say you can't still use something to protect your teeth still if this is a concern of yours. All I can say is that of everything I've tried, this is by far my best option and I'm thrilled with it. I think expecting perfection from any product is unrealistic. You have to look at your overall goal and success with that goal. Overall, I am THRILLED with the SleepGuard and soooo thankful for the inventor inventing it! :-)

by Mylene Merlo on SleepGuard
The SleepGuard saved my life!

I appreciate that we're all different, and different things work for different people... because you can try it for a month without paying for it, I encourage anyone suffering from bruxism to try it and see if it works for them. It saved my life! The biofeedback headband finally allows me to sleep without the fear I'll wake up with a cracked tooth. From the first night I tried it, I stopped waking up in pain from clenching. Completely improved the quality of my life.
So, it *might* not work for you, but it's definitely worth trying. It cost less than half than my last dentist nightguard, so I really don't think it's that expensive. Much less than a crown!

by Amy on SleepGuard
I've Used It, It Works!

I must respectfully disagree. From your review, it doesn't look like you've actually used this device. Have you? I have. And I can say without a doubt it works tremendously.

Also, in regards to the expensive price tag, they let you use it for free for 30 days if you send them your results. So you can use it for free to see if it works before you decide to buy it. After that, they offer a $50/month rent-to-own plan.

The company is run by an extremely nice inventor who you can contact personally.

I used this, and it cured the headaches, jaw aches, and dizziness that I was experiencing from grinding my teeth at night.

I am not affiliated with the company.

by Eric Ackley on SleepGuard
One expensive headband

It's one expensive $300 headband. Seriously, I really wanted this to work at stopping my teeth grinding. But despite my effort, the SleepGuard is as effective in my drawer than on my head. Thankfully, I was able to return it and get a refund without any problem.

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